Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Music Research Seminar: Christopher Roberts

‘She played extremely well on the harpsichord. Her fortune likewise was large’: the musical and romantic pursuits of John Courtney, an eighteenth-century Beverley gentleman

This week’s research seminar in Lecture Theatre 1 of the School of Music will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday 9th October.

The speaker is Christopher Roberts (University of Leeds).


John Courtney (1734-1806), gentleman and keen amateur musician, lived in Beverley, near Hull, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.  Between the years 1759-1768 and 1788-1806 he kept a diary (Hull History Centre, DDX/60/1-4).  This offers a wealth of new information on the social and musical life in the provinces.  Beverley was a thriving centre in the eighteenth-century, hosting its own theatre, races, assembly rooms and subscription concerts.  Courtney took full advance of these and had a range of musical interests: he sang, played the organ and harpsichord, and composed a number of cantatas and country dances (some of which were published).  He was a regular subscriber to music publications and concerts and also hosted musical soirées at his house to which family, friends and local and travelling professional musicians were invited.  Courtney’s diary enables us to examine the role that music played in his courtship routine, the qualities he looked for in his prospective wife, the extent of his network of amateur and professional musicians, and the musical culture available to this gentleman of leisure.

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