The classical period ensemble take a look at the musical melting pot that was London in the 1790s.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” according to the writer Samuel Johnson, “for there is in London all that life can afford.” The city doubled in population from the beginning to the end of the 18th century, housing close to ten percent of the entire population of England. Daniel Defoe commented that “This whole Kingdom are employed to furnish something, and I may add, the best of everything, to supply the city of London with provisions.”
Thriving business meant a concentration of considerable wealth, and the wealthy, including a swelling middle class, sought entertainment in their leisure, thereby providing a lively and enthusiastic audience for the arts. Importantly, this included a mixture of public concert settings, such as opera houses, theatres, music clubs, churches and pleasure gardens, as well as the private settings in the parlours, salons and drawing rooms of grand residences all over the city.
A demand was created for a mixture of both large and small scale music, with popular works often arranged in adaptations that could work in both settings. Thus it...