Charles Burney’s travel diaries

wed 2 mar 2022

In Documento starting on 3rd March we’re covering the extraordinary travel diaries of music historian, composer and musician Charles Burney. His musical travel diaries in his ‘General History of Music‘ give an interesting perspective on 18th century musical life in Europe. Everything Burney heard we’ll hear in this series.

Charles Burney was born in 1726 in Shrewbury, England. He received music lessons from among others the composer Thomas Arne. After marrying his reputation as a composer grew rapidly in London. Later Burney and his family moved to the countryside and he became the organist at the St. Margaret Church in King’s Lynn. Alongside that he was also a music teacher and worked as impresario and musician at local concerts. But he came back to London in 1760 and left for Paris 1764 .

In Paris Burney decided he wanted to write the history of music. He didn’t want to copy other people’s writings but to explore for himself how music had developed. In order to do this Charles Burney undertook 2 long journeys. His first journey in 1770 through France and Italy produced his ‘Present State of Music in France and Italy‘.
Two years later, in 1772, Burney travelled through the Lowlands, Germany and Austria and wrote ‘Present State of Music in Germany, The Netherlands and the United Provinces‘.
After a further three years of hard work came his ‘General History of Music‘ in 1776. The fourth and last part of this ‘General History’ appeared in 1789.

Charles Burney composed in 1777 the first sonatas for piano four hands.
And in 1801 he began his last great project; he provided the musical entries for Rees’s Cyclopedia .
Charles Burney died on 12th April 1814 in London at the age of 88 .

Deel 1 Introduction: Thursday 3rd March 2022, 21.00 – 22.00 uur
Deel 2 The journey through France and Italy: Thursday 17th March 2022, 21.00 – 22.00 uur
Deel 3 Italy: Thursday 31st March 2022, 21.00 – 22.00