Music and Theatre in Handel's World: The Family Papers of James Harris, 1732-1780
James Harris (1709-80) was an author of philosophical treatises and an enthusiastic amateur musician who directed the concerts and music festivals at Salisbury for nearly fifty years. His family and social circle had close connections with London's music-making: his brother was a witness to Handel's will, and his correspondents sent him lively reports on all aspects of musical life in the capital-opera, oratorio, concerts, but also about the leading performers, music copyists, and instrument makers. In 1761 Harris became a member of Parliament and thereafter divided his time between London and Salisbury. His letters and diaries provide an unrivalled record of concert- and theatre-going in London, including exchanges of letters with David Garrick about a production at Drury Lane. As his children grew up an engaging family correspondence emerged. We learn of his daughters' involvement in concerts and amateur theatrical productions; his son, who pursued a diplomatic career, reported on operas, concerts, and plays in the court of Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great. Now, for the first time, it is possible to enjoy in full the lively first-hand descriptions from Harris's family papers, which contribute fascinating insights into contemporary eighteenth-century musical and theatrical life.
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