The Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Musick | A Delightful Recreation: The Music of Thomas Jefferson

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A Delightful Recreation: The Music of Thomas Jefferson

by The Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Musick

The selection of music presented here re-creates Jefferson’s Williamsburg entertainments and gives the listener a sample of his musical experience. Recorded in the Governor’s Palace ballroom, this recording captures the spirit of the times of Jefferson
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Il cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Inventione, Concerto No. XII, Op. 8: I. Allegro
3:36 $0.99
2. Il cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Inventione, Concerto No. XII, Op. 8: II. Largo
2:34 $0.99
3. Il cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Inventione, Concerto No. XII, Op. 8: III. Allegro
3:35 $0.99
4. Sonata No. IV in F Major, Op. 5: I. Adagio
2:07 $0.99
5. Sonata No. IV in F Major, Op. 5: II. Allegro
2:30 $0.99
6. Sonata No. IV in F Major, Op. 5: III. Vivace
1:51 $0.99
7. Sonata No. IV in F Major, Op. 5: IV. Adagio
1:53 $0.99
8. Sonata No. IV in F Major, Op. 5: V. Allegro
2:43 $0.99
9. Sonata No. I in F Major, Op. 7: I. Adagio
3:36 $0.99
10. Sonata No. I in F Major, Op. 7: II. Allegro
4:31 $0.99
11. Sonata No. I in F Major, Op. 7: III. Allegretto
2:26 $0.99
12. Selections from Premier livre de pieces de clavecin: I. La d'Herecourt
6:11 $0.99
13. Selections from Premier livre de pieces de clavecin: II. La lugeac
3:09 $0.99
14. Sonata No. VI in E-Flat, D. 568: I. Moderato
5:12 $0.99
15. Sonata No. VI in E-Flat, D. 568: II. Andante
3:02 $0.99
16. Sonata No. VI in E-Flat, D. 568: III. Minuet
1:26 $0.99
17. St. David's Tune
5:01 $0.99
18. O, O Let Me Weep
6:16 $0.99
19. Oh, Had I Jubal's Lyre
2:47 $0.99
20. Cupid, God of Soft Persuasion
3:20 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The gentry of Virginia called their world genteel or civil. These words described the way they presented themselves, their relationships with others, and the social graces they expected. Philip Vickers Fithian, the New Jersey-born tutor to the children of Robert Carter of Nomini Hall, noted that Virginians expected gentlemen to be proficient in “dancing, boxing, playing the fiddle, and small sword, and cards.” His enumeration of the social graces was not glib. This was an ordered and rational society. The expressions of that society appeared in the architecture of their plantation homes, the political ideals that eventually led Virginians to revolution, and their social relationships with each other.
Thomas Jefferson’s life affords an outstanding example of the way that music provided a vehicle for social interaction. Jefferson began his training in the arts at an early age. At the Reverend James Maury’s boarding school the young boy studied music and dancing. By the age of fourteen he was already an able violinist. His violin would gain him access to the most important individuals in Virginia society.
George Wythe, Jefferson’s law teacher and mentor, introduced the young man to Francis Fauquier, royal governor of the Virginia colony. Fauquier was in the habit of inviting several gentlemen to the Governor’s Palace, where they entertained themselves by performing as a small ensemble. The invitation to perform with them ushered Jefferson into the company of Virginia’s most powerful men. John Randolph, lawyer and brother of speaker of the House of Burgesses Peyton Randolph played violin. Councillor Robert Carter played harpsichord and German flute. These gentlemen—and others—contributed hours of entertainment for Jefferson. Their friendship also provided the patronage essential for Jefferson’s future as a lawyer, legislator, and respected gentleman of his society.
Jefferson’s interest in music is well documented. His music library contained theoretical, critical, and historical volumes, along with vocal and instrumental music. Jefferson’s efforts at cataloging his music collection in 1783 reveal a keen interest in Italian art music. This appreciation is not surprising, since the most influential musicians in Continental Europe and the British Isles were Italian. Francesco Geminiani’s important violin tutor, entitled The Art of Playing on the Violin (1751), influenced Jefferson, as did Francis Alberti, an itinerant music master for whom Jefferson had much regard. One of Jefferson’s favorite composers was Carlo Antonio Campioni (1720-1793). He requested that his London merchant send him “everything else Carlo Antonio Campioni had composed of Solos, Duets, or Trios, printed copies would be preferred, but if not to be had, [he] would have them in manuscript.” Jefferson owned a 1740 J. Walsh edition of Arcangelo Corelli’s (1653-1713) celebrated opus 5 solo sonatas, one of the forty-two editions published during the eighteenth century.
The art music of Jefferson’s time sought to speak of a subtle range of human feeling. Roger North revealed the expressive nature of Corelli’s art when he asked, “Non udite lo parle?” (“Do you not hear it speak?”) Musical art spoke by mirroring the dual nature of the genteel and rational worlds. By exploiting the dualisms of musical art—stressed and unstressed metrical accents, undulating harmonic rhythms of dissonance and consonance, rhythmic activity and rest—the accomplished performer communicated a complete range of human emotion through sound. This is precisely the musical aesthetic explored in the violin concerti of Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).
Jefferson’s musical experiences exceeded his own violin music, and the geographical confines of Monticello. Jefferson shared a love for the predominant keyboard instrument of the eighteenth century, the harpsichord, with his wife, Martha, and his daughters, Martha (Patsy) and Polly. Both daughters studied harpsichord with Claude-Benigne Balbastre (1727-1799) during the Jefferson family’s tenure in Paris (1784-1787). “La Lugeac” from the Premier Livre de Pieces de Clavecin (1759) seems to have been a favorite in the Jefferson household, if the tattered and discolored edges between the pages of this particular piece are any indication. The sonata for harpsichord and German flute by Karl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) represents a genre particularly well suited to the Jefferson’s musical forces, as the German flute was nearly as popular as the violin during the eighteenth century, and Jefferson owned a German flute tutor by an unknown author. He also heard the instrument in Williamsburg and Paris. Finally, Jefferson often hummed tunes while riding on horseback to survey his farms. One of his favorite tunes was “St. David’s Tune,” which his eldest sister, Jane, had sung at Shadwell in his youth. Jefferson owned The Psalms Set full for Organ or Harpsichord (1718) by Daniel Purcell (d. 1717) and composed a transliteration text of Psalm 25.
Jefferson also experienced musical art performed by itinerant theater troupes in the Williamsburg theaters. The American Company, managed by David Douglas, came to Williamsburg complete with actors, singers, and instrumentalists. Perhaps he heard Miss Storer present the works of Felice de Giardini (1716-1796), Henry Purcell (ca. 1659-1695), or George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) during an entr’acte entertainment at Williamsburg’s theater. This close association with Williamsburg continued until 1780. As a student, a lawyer practicing before the bar, a legislator, and as the second elected governor of Virginia, he frequently visited or lived in the city. During much of this period he practiced his music at least three hours each day and constantly enjoyed the musical company of other gentlemen and ladies. He also heard the rich literature of voluntaries, interludes, and the music of prominent European composers performed on the Bruton Church organ by the church organist, Peter Pelham. As a frequent visitor to the Raleigh Tavern and the Capitol, Jefferson heard subscription concerts and danced at the balls and assemblies.
For Jefferson, music was a “delightful recreation” and a “companion which [could] sweeten many hours.” While his personal involvement with musical performance declined sharply after 1780, his interest in this particular fine art persisted in his activities as an enthusiastic parent, grandfather, and president.

Violinist Kevin Bushee is a graduate of Oberlin College specializing in the repertoire of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Jane Hanson is the ensemble’s soprano. A graduate of Bucknell University, she has spent the greater part of her career as a vocalist and performer for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Thomas Marshall is Colonial Williamsburg’s master music teacher and harpsichordist. Baroque flutist Herbert Watson joined the music staff at Colonial Williamsburg in 1968 and is featured arranger and performer in many Foundation publications and recordings. The ensemble routinely supplements its ranks with the many fine performers in Virginia.


Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)
Concerto XII, opus 8
Il Cimento Dell’Armonia e Dell’ Inventione
(The Contest of Harmony and Invention [ca.1725])
[1] I. Allegro {3:36}
[2] II. Largo {2:34}
[3] III. Allegro {3:35}

Arcangelo Corelli (1653 – 1713)
Sonata IV, opus 5
[4] I. Adagio {2:07}
[5] II. Allegro {2:29}
[6] III. Vivace {1:51}
[7] IV. Adagio {1:53}
[8] V. Allegro {2:41}

Carlo Antonio Campioni (1720 – 1793)
Sonata I, opus 7
[9] I. Adagio {3:56}
[10] II. Allegro {4:31}
[11] III. Allegretto {2:24}

Claude-Benigne Balbastre (1727 – 1799)
Selections from Premier Livre de Pieces de Clavecin (1759)
[12] I. La D’Herecourt {6:11}
[13] II. La Lugeac {3:09}

Karl Friedrich Abel (1723 – 1787)
Sonata VI in E-flat
[14] I. Moderato {5:12}
[15] II. Andante {3:02}
[16] III. Minuet {1:24}

Daniel Purcell (d. 1717)
[17] “St. David’s Tune” {5:00}
Henry Purcell (d. 1717)
[18] “O, O Let Me Weep” {6:15}

George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759)
[19] “Oh, Had I Jubal’s Lyre” {2:45}

Felice de Giardini (1716 – 1796)
[20] “Cupid, God of Soft Persuasion” {3:11}


Kevin Bushee—violin

Jane Hanson—soprano

Ulysses Kirksey—violoncello

Susannah Livingston—violin

Annie Loud—violin

Thomas Marshall—harpsichord, organ, and pianoforte

Wayne Moss—viola da gamba, violone

Jeffrey Swaluk—viola

Herbert Watson—German flute

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has a long history of excellence in the performance of historical music. The Governor’s Musick performs on antique or reproduction instruments, studies period treatises on performance, and combines these elements in a unique representation of eighteenth-century Virginia’s music. Music plays a distinct role in this living history museum. Colonial Williamsburg is more than a museum; it is a re-created eighteenth-century environment. Creating the environment does not stop, however, with the restoration and reconstruction of the city’s buildings, furnishings, and landscape. The sounds of this eighteenth-century community are an integral part of that environment, and the Governor’s Musick performs daily for the visitors to this reconstructed capital of Virginia. In addition, the ensemble regularly presents evening concerts in the Historic Area.


The selection of music presented here re-creates Jefferson’s Williamsburg entertainments and gives the listener a sample of his musical experience. Recorded in the Governor’s Palace ballroom, where he performed with Governor Fauquier during his student days and while he lived there as Virginia’s governor, we hope this recording captures for you the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s life and times.
Certain selections from “A Delightful Recreation” were featured July 4, 1993, on a national radio broadcast entitled “Thomas Jefferson…A Life with Music,” presented by Colonial Williamsburg and American Public Radio. Recorded using digital technology, this compact disc re-creates an authentic environment similar to what might have been experienced in eighteenth-century Williamsburg, true to Colonial Williamsburg’s commitment to historical accuracy.

All income from the sale of this recording is used for the purposes of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, which operates the Historic Area of Williamsburg, and to carry forward its educational programs. Colonial Williamsburg also welcomes tax-deductible contributions. Friends interested in discussing gifts to the Foundation are asked to contact the Director of the Colonial Williamsburg Fund, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-1776.


Executive Producer Richard M. McCluney

Producer Michael L. Puckett

Broadcast Producer Mary Beth Kirchner

Recording Engineer Paul Blakemore

Liner Notes Bill White

Musical Director Kevin Bushee

Art Direction Helen Mageras

Photography Tom Green
Dave Doody

Illustrations Research Mary Norment
Kathy Dunn
Mary Keeling
Margaret Pritchard

Mastering by Masterfonics (Benny Quinn)

A Delightful Recreation—The Music of Thomas Jefferson

Featured on American Public Radio

©1993 by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation



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