The Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Musick | Encore! Music from the 18th Century Theatre

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Encore! Music from the 18th Century Theatre

by The Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Musick

The music selected for this recording represents the style of music that could have been experienced in theatres throughout North America in colonial times. Music from many English plays was often sung and played in homes and taverns by amateurs as well.
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Virgin Umask'd: Overture
3:27 $0.99
2. The Beggar's Opera: Fill Ev'ry Glass
0:47 $0.99
3. The Beggar's Opera: What Shall I Do / Virgins Are Like
2:47 $0.99
4. The Beggar's Opera: What Shall I Do
0:35 $0.99
5. The Beggar's Opera: Cease Your Funning [Flute Version]
1:44 $0.99
6. The Beggar's Opera: Cease Your Funning
0:56 $0.99
7. The Beggar's Opera: If the Heart of a Man
1:10 $0.99
8. The Beggar's Opera: Youth's the Season Made for Joy / Cotillion
2:25 $0.99
9. The Beggar's Opera: When Young At the Bar
1:32 $0.99
10. The Beggar's Opera: Over the Hills and Far Away
1:31 $0.99
11. As You Like It: Under the Greenwood Tree
2:40 $0.99
12. The Tempest: Ariel's Song
2:28 $0.99
13. Quaker's Dance
1:36 $0.99
14. Cymbeline: Dirge
2:26 $0.99
15. The Honest Yorkshireman: Overture
3:49 $0.99
16. The Honest Yorkshireman: Shall I Stand Still
2:23 $0.99
17. The Honest Yorkshireman: Why Should Women so Much Be Controll'd
1:14 $0.99
18. The Honest Yorkshireman: My Charming Arabel
1:20 $0.99
19. The Tailor's Dance
1:27 $0.99
20. The Provok'd Husband: What Tho' They Call Me
1:45 $0.99
21. The Busie Body
1:31 $0.99
22. High Life Below Stairs: Come Here Fellow Servant
2:09 $0.99
23. Minevit (Minuet) for a Woman
0:59 $0.99
24. The Beggar's Wedding: Sure Marriage Is a Fine Thing
1:15 $0.99
25. The Recruiting Officer: Come Fair One Be Kind
1:46 $0.99
26. Love in a Village: My Dolly Was the Fairest Thing
1:48 $0.99
27. Love in a Village: Young I Am
2:50 $0.99
28. Thomas and Sally: Overture
2:03 $0.99
29. Thomas and Sally: Scotch Gavotte
2:50 $0.99
30. Thomas and Sally: Gigue
0:53 $0.99
31. Thomas and Sally: In Vain I Strive / My Former Times
2:10 $0.99
32. Thomas and Sally: Let Fops Pretend / Ye British Youths
3:27 $0.99
33. The Honest Yorkshireman: Come Learn By This Ye Bachelors
2:00 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Broadway may be the center of musical theatre today, but the first theatre in British North America was built on the Palace Green in the colonial capital of Williamsburg, Virginia in 1716.

When Merchant William Levingston signed a contract with his indentured servant Charles Stagg – actor, violinist, and dancer – the document stated that both would “bear equal share in all the charges of cloathes, musick, and other necessaries for acting in play…” From this time forward, music played a vital role on the colonial Virginia stage.

The first theatre was a short-lived venture, but a second one was built on a site near the Capitol building in 1751. It was here that Lewis Hallam’s “Company of Comedians from London,” staged the first professional theatrical performance in British North America in 1752. In an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette, Hallam claimed they were “perfected” in “all the best Plays, Operas, Farces and Pantomimes, that have been exhibited in any of the Theatres, these ten years past.” The announcement for the company’s first performance also stressed the songs in the plays. Later playbills continue the emphasis on music. A theatre built around 1760, also near the Capitol, was home to most of Williamsburg’s theatrical activity, and it was here that many Virginians from all walks of life – including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington – enjoyed countless evenings at the theatre.

MUSIC in the Theatre
The American Company – successor to Lewis Hallam’s London company – placed increasing importance on both instrumental and vocal music in their productions, as noted in their advertising. Moreover, they added plays to their repertoire that featured more stylized music than their earlier “ballad operas.” Their manager, David Douglass, announced in 1765 that he had

“collected some very eminent performers from both the theatres in London, particularly in the Singing-Way so that the English Comic Opera, a species of entertainment that has never yet appeared properly on this die the water, is likely to be performed…this winter to great advantage.”

The company advertised the use of an orchestra for a performance of Love in a Village the first English “comic opera” in Williamsburg in 1771. Williamsburg’s Bruton Parish Church organist, Peter Pelham, had previously served as the “conductor” of the music for The Beggar’s Opera in 1768.

The typical colonial theatre was shaped like a shoebox, with almost half of the space consisting of the stage. The remaining area contained the seating – the boxes, pit, and gallery. The wealthier colonists sat in box seats, which were raised on either side of the theatre and faced each other rather than the stage. The object of sitting in box seats was to be seen and admired – in addition to watching the play, of course. The “pit” consisted of backless, wooden benches on the floor area of the theatre where the “middling sort” watched, although the pit is said to have been preferred by George Washington. The gallery was what we call the balcony today – a raised seating area used by the “lesser sort,” students, sailors, and even slaves. In England, these lowly theatre patrons were known as “the gallery gods,” because their cheers or jeers could make or break a play.

A Pattern of Theatre
An evening’s entertainment in Williamsburg’s 18th-century theatres followed a pattern of presentation firmly established in the English-speaking theatre by mid century. Surviving handbills and advertisements of the colonial companies indicate the same plays and types of entertainment were presented as their counterparts in the Old World. Colonial troupes continue these presentation formats not only because it was what they knew, but because their audiences expected it.

Programs were varied and rich in entertainment, designed to appeal to the taste of as broad an audience as possible. Although all elements of the format do not appear in every announcement, some aspects were presented each evening.

An evening’s entertainment lasted from three to five hours and consisted of the following:
The amount of music colonial companies provided most likely depended on available musicians.

This introductory event was usually spoken but sometimes sung before the mainpiece.

The main body of work was a play of three to give acts, ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary works. The great majority of the plays demanded music in some form such as songs, dances, choruses, atmospheric background, and fanfares. The musical plays could not be performed at all without music – plays such as the ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera, the quasi-operatic type such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and comic operas such as Love in a Village.

Like the prologue, the conclusion or afterward was usually written as part of the mainpiece and sometimes sung.

Plays contained dance in some form, whether individual dances such as solo minutes, character dances, or English country dances.

This consisted of one or two acts that might be a farce, pantomime, ballad, or composed opera.

These were performed during the seven-minute intermissions between the acts, known as “entr’actes” and after the mainpiece.

Especially during the benefit season, these took the form of individual or group dancing, instrumental or vocal music, rope dancing, and other forms of entertainment. Often the evening would conclude with a general dance by all the performers.
Professional ACTORS
The efforts of the colonial players should not be compared to the performances at the great patent theatres in London – Drury Lane and Covent Garden – the pinnacle of theatrical achievement in the English-speaking world. Rather, they should be compared to those of the smaller London and town theatres, and to the touring and summer suburban companies.

Colonial players were competent actors – substantial, all-around players, thoroughly trained professionals who capably filled the secondary positions in the London theatres. They came to the colonies not only in search of employment but – especially in the case of the younger actors – in order to gain further experience. A study of the London, provincial, and Irish theatre cast lists reveals names of actors who came to America, some of whom returned to England to reach the covered goal of performing on the stages of Drury Lane or Covent Garden.

Sophisticated Audiences
A number of Virginians had firsthand acquaintance with the finest of English theatre music through their visits to the London playhouses. Much of this music was owned by Virginia gentry and could often be found for sale in Williamsburg at the printing office and certainly at booksellers in large cities such as New York and Philadelphia. Scores in reduced form for home use – the text of plays and books which featured theatre music along with other popular songs – were all owned by men such as Jefferson, Washington, and Robert Carter. The playhouse in Williamsburg was a favorite way for Virginians to spend an evening in town.


The music selected for this recording represents the style of music that could have been experienced in theatres throughout North America in colonial times. Even in places where theatre companies did not perform, music from many English plays was often sung and played in homes and taverns by amateurs for their own enjoyment. Of the plays, whose music is featured – The Beggar’s Opera, Cymbeline, A Wonder or the Honest Yorkshireman, The Provok’d Husband, High Life Below Stairs, The Recruiting Officer, Love in a Village and Thomas and Sally – have all been documented as being performed in Williamsburg between 1736-1772.

Written by Henry Fielding (1707-1754), this play became popular as an afterpiece following its first London performance in 1735. The play tells the story of a wealthy squire who – wanting to keep his money in the family – expects his daughter, Lucy, to marry one of the family’s poorer relations. But Lucy plans to marry the footman, with whom she has fallen in love. All the music for this play came from borrowed sources, including The Beggar’s Opera. The Murray-Kean Company performed the first documented staging of the play in America in New York in 1751.

John Gay (1685-1732) wrote this play first performed in 1728 at London’s Lincoln’s Inn Field. Known as the greatest theatrical success of the 18th century, the play took a satirical look at politics and the Italian opera and used recognizable tunes with new lyrics written by Gay for its 69 songs. Pickpockets, thieves, scoundrels, prostitutes, and other “lesser sorts” of 18th-century London society make up the characters of the play. Several characters are thinly disguised portrayals of prominent English politicians, including the Prime Minister, Robert Walpole. The feuding between Italian opera divas Faustina and Cuzzoni adds to the satire.

The music borrowed for the play included dance tunes, ballads, and music composed by Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and George F. Handel (1685-1759). The first known performance of the play in Williamsburg was June 3, 1768, under the musical direction of Williamsburg church organist Peter Pelham. In March 1771, the Virginia Gazette advertised the score for sale “set to Musick” available for purchase at the town printing office.

These three plays by Williams Shakespeare (1564-1616) are represented musically with songs by Thomas Arne (1710-1778). The productions most likely used versions of the plays altered by London playwright and actor David Garrick (1717-1779). A portrait owned by Colonial Williamsburg (facing page) of the American actress Nancy Hallam by American artist Charles Wilson Peale portrays Miss Hallam as Imogen in a scene from Cymbeline. Cymbeline and The Tempest were performed numerous times in the colonies.
Henry Carey (ca. 1687-1743) wrote this popular colonial balled-opera afterpiece with nearly two dozen performances between 1752 and 1774. The subject of the play, like many plays of the period, is marriage – in this case, an arranged marriage. Sir Penurious Muckworm arranged for his niece Arabella to marry a Yorkshire country squire named Samuel Sapskull Jr. Carey wrote the play and eight of the play’s 20 songs.

This play was started by Sr. John Vanbrugh and left unfinished when he died in 1726. It was completed by Colley Cibber (1671-1757) in 1728. The two songs featured in the play were written for Cibber’s London production in 1728 by Henry Carey. The songs were written for the character Jenny, a young country girl who comes to London with her family to look for a rich husband. The only dated Williamsburg performance was on April 22, 1772, with Thomas and Sally as the afterpiece.

This comedy was written in 1759 by the Rev. James Townley (1714-1778), a friend of actor David Garrick. The play tells the story of a master who informs his servants he is leaving to visit his country estate, but instead conceals himself to see if his servants are cheating him. The servants entertain servants of the master’s friends with a supper and dance. The song is composer Jonathan Battishill’s first contribution to the stage. He eventually became harpsichordist at Covent Garden Theater and married the actress Miss Davies. High Life Below Stairs was performed in Williamsburg in May of 1768 as an afterpiece to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

Written by Charles Coffey (d. 1745) in 1729, this play was a ballad opera “riding on the coattails” of its famous predecessor, The Beggar’s Opera. Though the play was apparently never performed in the colonies, several songs – including this one – were published in a very popular anthology of song called The Musical Miscellany which was available for sale at Williamsburg’s printing office and was purchased by several Williamsburg families.

George Farquhar (1678-1707) wrote this play which premiered at London’s Drury Lane Theatre in 1706. This comedy about 18th-century British military enlistment practices was a popular play throughout the colonies and was performed at least 30 times in seven different cities and towns. It was most likely performed in Williamsburg’s first theatre a dozen years or so after its first London performance. It was a favorite of George Washington, who was a regular attendee at the theatre in Williamsburg. It featured just two songs, “Come fair one be kind” and “Over the hills and far away,” but these became quite well known, and the melodies were both used in The Beggar’s Opera some 20 years later.

This play by Isaac Bickerstaffe (ca. 1735-1812) was the first English comic opera performed in the colonies. David Douglass, manager of The American Company of performers advertised in the South Carolina Gazette on Oct. 19, 1765 that he had just arrived and had brought over “at great expense…some very eminent performers…particularly in the Singing-Way, so that English Comic Opera, a species of entertainment that has never yet appeared properly on this side of the water” would be performed that next season. The music for this play was compiled by Thomas Arne, who also composed 19 of the 43 selections. The songs featured here were written by Arne, G. F. Handel, and Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) respectively. As in The Beggar’s Opera, the melodies are often borrowed from these composers with new words to fit the plot of the play. The music from Love in a Village was widely available in the colonies, and the families of both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned the score. Both men likely saw the play when it was performed here on May 1, 1771.

Thomas Arne wrote this all-vocal opera and, though small in scale, it was very successful in London and in the colonies. It was written in 1760 and was performed more often in London than any other afterpiece until the end of the century. The music is remarkably sophisticated with recitatives and airs, yet – unlike the Italian opera of Handel’s day – was based on easily recognizable characters. There are only four parts including Sally, a young milkmaid betrothed to the sailor, Thomas, her older “friend” Dorcas, who is trying to persuade Sally to forsake her sailor and take up with the lecherous but wealthy squire. The orchestration featured a new instrument at the time, the clarinet, and by the time of its first American Company could muster enough horns and possibly some clarinets for the entry music. The role of the squire was sung by Stephen Wools, the best male vocalist on the 18th-century American stage, who had been trained in London by Arne himself. The first recorded performance of Thomas and Sally in Williamsburg was on April 21, 1772, a night on which George Washington attended the theatre. The music for this play was also widely owned and available in the colonies.


1. Overture from THE VIRGIN UNMASK’d or THE OLD MAN TAUGHT WISDOM, a ballad opera by Henry Fielding, 1735; arr. Herbert Watson from original tunes. 3:25
THE BEGGAR’s OPERA, a ballad opera by John Gay, 1728; music from the score printed in 1729 by John Watts, with basses by Dr. Johann C. Pepusch, reprinted by Dover Publications, Inc., 1973.
2. “Fill ev’ry glass,” words by J. Gay; music from Wit and Mirth or Purge Melancholy vol. 1: edited by Thomas D’Urfey in 6 vols., 1712-1720. 0:45
3. “What shall I do”/Virgins are like:” “What shall I do,” words and music by Henry Purcell, from Pills, vol. 4. “Virgins are like,” words by J. Gay; arr. By J. Pepusch. 2:44
4. “What shall I do,” violin version from Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 4. 0:32
5. “Cease your funning,” flute version from Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 6. 1:42
6. “Cease your funning,” words by J. Gay; music source unknown; arr. by J. Pepusch. 0:54
7. “If the heart of a man,” words by J. Gay; music, “Would you have a young virgin,” from D’Urfey’s Pills vol. I. 1:08
8. “Youth’s the season made for joy”/Cotillion 2:23
a. “Youth’s the season,” words by J. Gay; music from an early edition of John Playford’s The Dancing Master, arr. by J. Pepusch.
b. Cotillion from Reciieil de Dances de Bal pour l’annee’ 1706, by Raoul-Auger Feuillet, bass line by J. Pepusch; arr. J. Hanson.
9. “When young at the bar,” words by J. Gay; music, “If love’s a sweet passion,” by H. Purcell; arr. by J. Pepusch. 1:29
10. “Over the hills and far away,” words by J. Gay; music source unknown, arr. by J. Pepusch. 1:28
11. “Under the greenwood tree,” from As You Like It, a play by William Shakespeare 1598-99; music by Thomas Arne, publ. in H. Robert’s Clio and Euterpe, 1758-1762. 2:37
12. Ariel’s Song, from The Tempest, a play by Shakespeare; music by T. Arne; publ. in Robert’s Clio and Euterpe. 2:25
13. Quaker’s Dance, from The Dancing Master, vol. 2, 4th ed., by John Young, 1728; arr. by H. Watson. 1:33
14. Dirge, from Cymbeline, a play by Shakespeare; music by T. Arne; publ. in Robert’s Clio and Euterpe. 2:23
A WONDER or THE HONEST YORKSHIREMAN, a ballad opera by Henry Carey, 1736.
15. Overture, arr. by H. Watson from orig. tunes. 3:47
16. “Shall I stand still,” words and music by H. Carey; arr. by H. Watson. 2:21
17. “Why should women so much be controll’d,” words and music by H. Carey; arr. by H. Watson. 1:12
18. “My charming Arabel,” words and music by H. Carey; arr. by H. Watson. 1:17
19. The Tailor’s Dance, from New and Curious School of Theatrical Dancing, by Gregorio Lambranzi, 1716; arr. by H. Watson. 1:24
20. “What tho’ they call me,” from The Provok’d Husband or A Journey to London, a play by Sir John Vanbrugh and Colley Cibber, 1728; words and music by H. Carey, publ. in The Musical Century, vol. 1, 1737. 1:43
21. The Busie Body, from A Treatise of Chorography or The Art of Dancing Country Dances after a New Character, by John Esses, 1710; arr. by H. Watson 1:28
22. “Come here fellow servant,” from High Life Below Stairs, a play by James Towley, 1759; music by Jonathan Battishill, from Songs of the Williamsburg Theater, by J. Molnar, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1972. 2:06
23. Minevit (minuet) for a woman, from The Art of Dancing, 1735, Kellom Tomlinson; music by “Mr. Luly,” arr. by H. Watson. 0:58
24. “Sure marriage is a fine thing,” from The Beggar’s Wedding or Phoebe, a ballad opera by Charles Coffey, 1729; music source unknown, from A Williamsburg Songbook, arr. by John Edmunds, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1964. 1:13.
25. “Come fair one be kind,” from The Recruiting Officer, a play by George Farquhar, 1706; music by Richard Leveridge, from Songs of the Williamsburg Theater. 1:42

LOVE IN A VILLAGE, a comic opera by Isaac Bickerstaffe, 1762; printed for J. Walsh, London, 1762.
26. “My Dolly was the fairest thing,” words by I. Bickerstaffe; music by George F. Handel. 1:46
27. “Young I am,” words by I. Bickerstaffe, music by Baldassare Galuppi. 2:48

THOMAS AND SALLY or THE SAILOR’S RETURN, a comic opera by Thomas Arne, 1760; printed for Harrison & Co., London, c. 1785.
28. Overture 2:00
29.Scotch Gavotte 2:48
30.Gigue 0:51
31.”In Vain I Strive”/”My former times,” words and music by T. Arne. 2:07
32.”Let fops pretend”/”Ye British youths,” words and music by T. Arne. 3:24
33.”Come learn by this ye bachelors,” from The Honest Yorkshireman, a ballad opera by H. Carey; arr. by H. Watson. 1:59

John Barrows
English Flutes

Jennifer Edenborn

Jane F. Hanson
voice, tabor

Michael Monaco

Wayne Moss
viola de gamba

Paul Vrooman

Herbert Watson
German & English flutes

A Colonial Williamsburg PRODUCTION

Senior Executive Producer
Richard L. McCluney Jr.

Executive Producer
William G. Wagner

Producer, Audio Engineering, and Mastering
Todd A. Judge, MPSE

Associate Producer
Henry McCoy

Assistant Engineer
Chuck Smith, C.A.S.

Musical Direction and Liner Notes
Jane F. Hanson
(with selected notes from John W. Molnar’s Songs of the Williamsburg Theater, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1972)

Art Director
Elizabeth Eaton

Barbara Rust Brown

Tom Green

When you purchase music recorded by Colonial Williamsburg PRODUCTIONS you are preserving a legacy. Each purchase helps support The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s preservation, research, and educational programs.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation welcomes private contributions. Friends interested in discussing gifts to the foundation are invited to contact:

Development Office
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Post Office Box 1776
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-1776.

The Performing Arts Department presents music, theatre, and dance programs at the Kimball Theatre, Hennage Auditorium, and in locations throughout the Historic Area. For more information on music recordings and programs offered, visit our Web site, or call 1-800-HISTORY.



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