Royal Jubilee a fine time to contemplate what will remain of this Elizabethan music


An iPad-generated portrait of Queen Elizabeth II created last week by Montreal artist Bénédictine.

I was reading Queen Victoria’s journals last week, and had to chuckle at her dislike for the “tedious” music of George Frideric Handel.

He had been dead for nearly 80 years by the time Victoria ascended to the throne, yet his music was still being played and sung.

While Prince Albert was alive, Victoria and her consort not only increased the number of royal concerts, they loved making their own music at home — perhaps the last royals to do so in earnest.

For Victoria’s 80th birthday, a who’s who of British composers contributed anthems in her honour — and I don’t think any of them are in regular performance. (Check out the list and audio samples here.)

Dipping into the sacred music of the Tudor era at yesterday’s concert for Bruce Hill further spurred me to wonder about the musical legacy of Elizabeth II.

Which composers of the era will endure, and which will be forgotten in the coming centuries?

Benjamin Britten will, unquestionably, be at the top of the list of survivors. (Which makes me think of the distaste the present Queen showed for the opera, Gloriana — a masterpiece, I believe — Britten wrote for her coronation festivities.)

What pieces or composers of the mid- and late-20th century do you think will endure?

To hopefully stimulate your thoughts, here are 90 minutes of music that span the last four-and-a-half centuries.

Some of the music of living composer John Tavener is likely to survive, because of its timeless quality, so I thought I’d set his music up against John Taverner, a great from early Tudor times.

Let’s start with the recent, John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil. The ancient is John Taverner’s magnificent Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, in honour of today’s church feast. (Both videos contain all the credits):

John Terauds

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