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Humanities LibreTexts

Private and Public Performances

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  • During the 1500s and 1600s, European royal and artistic patrons supported the arts - and were often accomplished musicians and dancers too.  English King Henry VIII composed songs, including "Pastyme with Good Companye" - a happy little ditty extolling the pleasure of leisure. 

    In France, King Louis XIV brought playwright/actor Moliere to the royal court, and imported Jean-Baptiste Lully,a musician and composer from Italy.  Together they wrote, choreographed and produced operas, plays, and musicals often starring the King who loved to sing and dance. Lully also directed the court’s military band and two orchestras.

    In competition, English King Charles II’s Band of 24 Violins played in outside afternoon concerts. These became the first public concerts established in 1699.  “Coffee house concerts” followed and for one shilling, you got admittance and free ale and tobacco.  This reestablished public performances that had disappeared with Greek and Roman civilizations.

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