Tag Archive | Baroque

Wedding Music: The Jeremiah Clarke Trumpet “Mystery”

The Jeremiah Clarke Trumpet Tune and Ayre and Trumpet Voluntary or Prince of Denmark’s March

The English composer Jeremiah Clarke (c. 1674 – 1707) has had the great misfortune to have his two best compositions wrongly attributed to his much more famous contemporary Henry Purcell (1659-1695):

Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Tune and Ayre:

Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary or Prince of Denmark’s March:

The Confusion between Jeremiah Clarke and Henry Purcell

Jeremiah Clarke (1659-1707)

Jeremiah Clarke (1659-1707)

You will still, quite often (as in one of the above videos), hear both of these pieces being attributed to the wrong composer: i.e. the Henry Purcell Trumpet Tune and Ayre and the Henry Purcell Trumpet Voluntary or Prince of Denmark March.

Music historians have known better for at least 50 years. The rightful composer of both works is Jeremiah Clarke. Now, when dealing with 400-year old music it is expected that there will be, from time to time, some confusion regarding who wrote what.

When I was in college as a music major  I learned Eight Little Preludes and Fugues by “Bach” on the pipe organ only to later find out that these pieces are actually now believed to have been written by the virtually unknown composer Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780).

These things happen. It seems to me, however, highly suspect that Jeremiah Clarke should have be robbed of his fame the way he has been for several centuries.. Of  course, as with the Eight Little Preludes and Fugues, the confusion over the authorship should not in any way detract you from enjoying or using the wonderful music for your Wedding.

I have no evidence to back this up, but I would suspect that Jeremiah Clarke ‘s lack of acknowledgment originally may have stemmed, at lest in part, from the fact that he committed suicide:

“A violent and hopeless passion for a very beautiful lady of a rank superior to his own” caused him to commit suicide. Before shooting himself, he considered hanging and drowning as options, so to decide his fate, he tossed a coin—however the coin landed in the mud on its side. Instead of consoling himself, he chose the third method of death, and performed the deed in the cathedral churchyard.Suicides were not generally granted burial in consecrated ground, but an exception was made for Clarke, who was buried in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral(though other sources state he was buried in the unconsecrated section of the cathedral churchyard.” Wikipedia

With such narrow-mindedness being the prevailing attitude in the early 18th Century it is quite easy to imagine that the name of hugely famous Henry Purcell was substituted for that of the out cast “suicide” Jeremiah Clarke.

The Jeremiah Clarke Trumpet Tune and Ayre

The Trumpet Tune and Ayre written by Jeremiah Clarke for the stage production The Island Princess which was a joint musical production of Clarke and Daniel Purcell (1664-1717), Henry Purcell’s younger brother.

The “Ayre” or “Air” is the quieter song-like section sandwiched between the main Trumpet Tune:

The Jeremiah Clarke Trumpet Voluntary or Prince of Denmark’s March

Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, also known as the Prince of Denmark’s March, is believed to have been written in honor of Prince George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne of Great Britain.

The Royal connection has come down the centuries as Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary was used as the Processional for Lady Diana Spencer on the day of her marriage to HRH Prince Charles at St. Paul’s Cathedral (1981, about 2:18 in the video below).

So, Jeremiah Clarke did eventually receive the recognition that he was due. If he was listening, he would be pleased to hear his music accompany Princess Diana’s walk down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral where he had been organist in the late 17th Century.

Patrick Byrne, Piano

I would love to work with you to help make your own Wedding or special event a truly beautiful experience for your family and friends.

For more information please go to my main Wedding Music page.


Wedding Music: Handel Water Music

Handel’s Water Music for Your Special Day

If you want to add a Royal touch to your Wedding day, try using some music from Handel’s Water Music.

Here is a modern performance of this ancient music that tries to present it as it may have sounded in Handel’s day:

Handel’s Water Music is a Suite Deal!

Handel’s Water Music is a group of 21 pieces that are grouped into three suites or sets of music. The video above is of all three suites and lasts just about an hour.

George Frederick Handel (left) and King George I on the Royal Barge

George Frederick Handel (left) and King George I on the Royal Barge

Handel and his Water Music

George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was, along with J.S. Bach (1685-1750), one the most important composers of the Baroque Era. The history of music is divided up into several eras. The Baroque Era lasted from roughly 1600 until the deaths of Bach and Handel in the mid-18th century.

Although Handel was born in what is now Germany he had his greatest successes during the many years that he lived in Great Britain where he settled in 1712. That is where he composed his most famous work — The Messiah — which was premiered in Dublin, Ireland in 1741.

Handel wrote his Water Music for King George I (1660-1727) when the King requested a concert to accompany one of his many Royal cruises. The preferred method of travel for the British Royalty in those days was by boat.

Royalty can bore very easily so Handel, who was a relative new comer at the time, used this Royal commission to write some sprightly out-door music to entertain the King and his Court as the Royal fleet made its way up the River Thames.

Floating up the River Thames on one of the royal barges, Handel’s Water Music was heard for the first time on July 17, 1717:

“The first performance of the Water Music suites is recorded in the Daily Courant, a London newspaper. At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 July, 1717, King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace for an excursion up the Thames toward Chelsea. The rising tide propelled the barge upstream without rowing. Another barge provided by the City of London contained about fifty musicians who performed Handel’s music. Many other Londoners also took to the river to hear the concert. According to the Courant, “the whole River in a manner was couver’d” with boats and barges. On arriving at Chelsea, the king left his barge, then returned to it at about 11 p.m. for the return trip. The king was so pleased with the Water Music that he ordered it to be repeated at least three times, both on the trip upstream to Chelsea and on the return, until he landed again at Whitehall.” Wikipedia

Handel’s Water Music: “Air”

For Weddings, there are two sections of Handel’s Water Music that are still very popular today. The first is the “Air”, the fifth selection from Water Music Suite No. 1 in F. The term “Air” is what composers during the Baroque used to designate compositions that are song-like and not dance-based or a march. Most of Handel’s Water Music is made up of fast dances and lively marches so this “Air” is somewhat slower and quieter than the rest of the Suite.

Here is the “Air” followed by two livelier dances (a “Minuet” (3:20) and a “Bouree” (5:18)) from the Water Music Suite No. 1 in F. This video gives a look at how this popular music came to be used in the ballrooms of the 18th Century.

Handel’s Water Music: “Hornpipe”

The other selection from Handel’s Handel’s Water Music that is still popular with today’s Brides is the “Hornpipe” which is No. 11 and ends Water Music Suite No. 1 in F. The people of the Baroque Era loved to dance. The music of this time is filled with dances from various sources. Hornpipes were originally crude “sailor’s dances”. Baroque composers like Handel adapted them for a more refined aristocratic audience:

Again, this video gives you a valuable glimpse of how Handel’s music was enjoyed in the ballrooms of the aristocracy during the 18th Century. The video begins with the “Hornpipe” which is followed by a “Menuet” (3:11) and “Rigaudon” (5:57)

The “Air” and “Hornpipe” for Your Wedding

Using Handel’s music for your Wedding is a great way to add a touch of tradition without using the usual Wagner and Mendelssohn marches.

Played a bit slower than the above dance recording — remember you are processing slowly down the aisle — the “Air” makes a wonderful entrance or Processional.

Of course, at the end of your Wedding Ceremony you are not expected to march down the aisle at such a slow pace. That is where the “Hornpipe” shines.

Both the “Air” and “Hornpipe” sound really good on the piano. If a pipe organ is available, it is possible to capture the Baroque sound of the original.

The “Air” played slowly on the piano:

The “Hornpipe” played with gusto on a really big pipe organ:

Patrick Byrne, Piano

I would love to work with you to help make your own Wedding or special event a truly beautiful experience for your family and friends.

For more information please go to my main Wedding Music page.

Wedding Music: The Pachelbel Canon in D

The Pachelbel Canon in D

The Johann Pachelbel Canon in D is one of my personal favorites. I am always happy to see it requested by a Bride.

Here is this beautiful piece in its original version as composed by Pachelbel in the 17th century.

Pachelbel and his Canon in D

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1709) lived a long-time ago. He was born 35 years before J.S. Bach (1685-1750) who, for most non-musicians, is about as far back in time as they care to listen.

Like Bach, Pachelbel was a hard working German musician who composed a great deal of music during his life time. As is the case with most of the pre-Bach composers, most of their music has long been forgotten unless you are into “early music.”


Pachelbel is thought to have composed his Canon in D for Johann Cristoph Bach’s wedding in October of 1694. Johann Cristoph (1671-1721) was J.S. Bach’s oldest brother and a pupil of Pachelbel.

Much of the music of the Baroque Period (which is the era that we are dealing with here) was written for a specific occasion, such as a Wedding, and then forgotten.

This is apparently what happened to the Pachelbel Canon in D which was not published until 1919.

The Pachelbel Canon in D becomes a Hit!

Jean-Francois Paillard's hit record

Jean-Francois Paillard’s hit record

Being published doesn’t necessarily mean being played and the Pachelbel Canon in D remained virtually unknown for another half century.

The Canon in D was recorded by Arthur Fiedler in 1940 but again didn’t get much notice.

That was not the case when Jean-François Paillard (1928 –2013) recorded the Canon in D in 1968.




At the time that this recording was released I was just getting into Classical music. I well remember what a sensation Paillard’s recording of the Canon in D caused first among Classical music fans and then the general public. To think that this beautiful piece had been virtually unheard of for 274 years was hard to understand.

Naturally, Brides immediately fell in love with the Pachelbel Canon in D and it soon began to challenge the Wagner “Bridal Chorus” for the title of most-popular Processional or entrance song. It was perfect: a Classical piece that helped the Bride break with tradition. Boomer brides were a rebellious lot!

Of the many recorded versions of  the Pachelbel Canon in D the one I like best is by pianist George Winston (b. 1949).

George Winston's December

George Winston’s December

Winston’s Canon in D was recorded in 1982 for his album December. Thanks to Winston, the Pachelbel Canon in D hence became associated with Christmas in addition to weddings  and is sometimes even referred to as the Christmas Canon. I like Winston’s version because, while honoring Pachelbel’s original “Canon”, he explores it almost like a Jazz musician would.





What is a “Canon” Anyway?

The term canon can be confusing. In the world of music it has nothing to do with howitzers or other military usages. Canon is a cousin of rounds and fugues where melodies are echoed by one another in different voices or instruments.

In addition to the intertwined polyphonic melodies, Pachelbel achieved the hypnotic effect of his Canon in D by supporting the swirling melodies with a musical technique called a ground bass. The ground bass in the Canon in D can easily be heard in the first eight notes of the piece. These eight notes repeat over and over for the entire Canon in D forming its hypnotic foundation or “ground”.

Patrick Byrne, Piano

I would love to work with you to help make your own Wedding or special event a truly beautiful experience for your family and friends.

For more information please go to my main Wedding Music page.