Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Estelle Murphy
Eighteenth-Century Music
'Inspire Us Genius of the Day': Rewriting the Regent in the Birthday Ode for Queen Anne, 1703
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In 1701/2 the writer and poet Peter Anthony Motteux collaborated with the composer John Eccles, the Master of the King’s Musick, in writing the ode for William III’s birthday. The surviving autograph manuscript is listed in the British library manuscript catalogue as: ‘Ode for the King’s Birthday, 1703; in score by John Eccles’. The entry then states that the composition had already reached fol. 10v when King William III died and therefore the words up to that point had to be amended to suit his successor, Queen Anne. On closer inspection of this manuscript, it seems that much more of the ode had been completed before the king’s death and that much more than the words ‘king’ and ‘William’ were amended to suit a succeeding monarch of different gender and nationality. This ode was performed before Queen Anne on her birthday in 1703 and the words were published shortly afterwards. The discrepancies between this printed version of the ode and the words as they appear in their musical context reveals that no fewer than three versions of the same text were created in the rewriting of this work. These curious discrepancies call into question issues of authority not only in the case of the poet and composer but also in the case of poetry and music themselves. Moreover, a careful analysis of the watermarks and rastrology gives insight into the collaborative process of reengineering that was, in fact, applied to an already completed work. This article explores the problems of textual versus musical authority presented in this manuscript. It also investigates the problems faced by its creators in reworking a piece originally intended for a foreign male war-hero for a female British Queen during a period of political and religious fragility.
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