Great British Music

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Episode 3 of 4

Duration: 1 hour

Dr David Starkey's exploration of how the monarchy shaped Britain's music reaches the 18th century, when Great Britain became a dominant military and economic power, and the century which brought us patriotic classics such as God Save the King - the world's first national anthem - and Rule Britannia. Yet this was a time when the monarchy had never been more fragile, having lost much of its political and religious power and imported its ruling house from abroad. The supreme irony was that it was a musician from Germany, George Frideric Handel, who gave Great Britain and its new royal dynasty its distinctive musical voice.

Featuring specially recorded performances from Westminster Abbey Choir and a full baroque orchestra of Handel's Hallejulah Chorus and Zadok The Priest. Plus the Academy of Ancient Music performs extracts from Handel's operas and other works. Soloists joining the performances include Elin Manahan Thomas, singing 'Eternal Source of Light Divine' which was written for Queen Anne's birthday in 1714 and was performed by Elin to a global audience at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Also featuring what is believed to be the first public performance for 300 years of the music written for the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 - sung by the choir of St Paul's Cathedral just as it was back then.

David also discovers the true stories behind Handel's Water Music, written to accompany George I on a trip along the Thames, as well as his Music for Royal Fireworks, full of military instruments at the insistence of the soldier-king George II. He also visits the country estate of Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, where Thomas Arne's Rule Britannia was first performed as an act of defiance by an heir to the throne.

Music Played

25 items

Credits

Presenter
David Starkey
Series Producer
Peter Sweasey
Producer
Christopher Walker
Director
Christopher Walker

Broadcasts

Watch the Full Performances

Watch the Full Performances from Episode One

Watch extended versions of some of the musical pieces featured in the series.

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