Part 3 Research – Thomas Britton

Thomas Britton was by all accounts quite the entrepreneur.  He was born in 1644 and died in 1714 and was one of the earliest concert promoters.

He was an English charcoal merchant in Clerkenwell, not the most obvious route into music marketing, but above his premises, he started holding meetings for musicians to come and play in his loft from 1678. These concerts attracted many leaders of fashionable London.  Seems hard to believe given that his premises were quite small and were accessed by an external staircase, which must have proved very tricky for ladies in their dresses of many layers to negotiate.

Britton also amassed over the years quite a collection of music and instruments as well as designing his own concert programmes.

Roger L’Estrange inaugurated the venue with a viol performance.  Other musicians that were known to perform there were J.C. Pepusch (German-born composer who later became co-founder of the Academy of Ancient Music), John Banister (an English composer and violinist), Philip Hart (organist), George Frederic Handel (no introductions needed) and amateurs John Hughes, Henry Needler and J. Woolaston.

It was also the premiere venue for Matthew Dubourg, an Irish composer and violinist who was a mere child when he made his first appearance at Britton’s loft.  He later went on to work with Handel many times.

Britton himself played the voil de gamba and recorder and composed short pieces; Samuel Pepys thought him an expert on Tudor liturgical music.

References:
Sadie, S (1988). Grove Concise Dictionary of Music. London: Macmillan Press. 109.
Unknown. (Unknown). Thomas Britton. Available: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Britton. Last accessed 30/09/13.

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