read with great interest your piece on Worgan’s Piano (Clavierübung,
Issue 20, July 2000) as George Bouchier Worgan was my g-g-g-great uncle
being the older brother of my g-g-g-great grandfather Thomas Danvers
family music legacy started with James Worgan (1713-1752) and Dr. John
Worgan (1724-1790) who was the most famous of the Worgan organists. Dr.
John taught all of his children how to play the piano and the organ and
that trait was passed down the line for many generations. They also were
very active composers and played at many of the Churches in London as
well as giving many performances at Vauxhall Gardens.
Worgan is probably best remembered for his playing of the Easter Hymn
commonly known as the Worgan Tune (Jesus Christ is Risen Today)
as well as having taught Charles Wesley how to play the piano. In
addition he was good friends with Handel who would probably have been
the composer of choice in 1790 in Australia especially with George
Bouchier being an acquaintance of his.
retrieved the following piece from the Internet concerning the time
period in question:
Scarlatti was not especially well-known as a player outside his circle,
his harpsichord sonatas certainly were. Particularly in England, a
following for his works developed that established his reputation as one
of the foremost keyboard composers of his time. Between the first
publication of thirty sonatas in his Essercizi in London in 1738
and the end of the 18th century, more than one hundred sonatas were
available in English prints. Of these, more than sixty had been
published by 1760, around the time of Scarlatti’s death. For the English
public, the keyboard works of Scarlatti, together with those of Händel,
formed the foundation of their repertoire.
on the dearth of native English composers, Charles Burney (1726-1814)
said, “Handel’s compositions for the organ and harpsichord, with those
of Scarlatti and [Domenico] Alberti, were our chief practice and
delight, for more than fifty years.”
Burney, in reminiscing about the state of music in England around 1750,
harpsichord lessons and organ concertos, and the two first books of
Scarlatti's lessons, were all the good Music for keyed-instruments at
that time in the nation; and there were original (and) difficult
. . .
Handel's organ concertos long remained in possession of the first and
favourite places, in the private practice and public performance of
every organist in the kingdom; and Scarlatti’s were not only the pieces
with which every young performer displayed his powers of execution, but
were the wonder and delight of every hearer who had a spark of
enthusiasm about him, and could feel new and bold effects intrepidly
produced by the breach of almost all the old and established rules of
. . .Mr.
Kelway, a scholar of Geminiani, kept Scarlatti's best lessons in
constant practice, and was at the head of the Scarlatti sect. He had, in
his voluntaries on the organ, a masterly wildness, and long supported
the character of a great player, in a style quite his own, bold, rapid
and fanciful. With his harpsichord playing I was not acquainted, but
have often been assured that he executed the most difficult lesson of
Scarlatti, in a manner peculiarly neat and delicate.
. . . In
his youth, [John Worgan, 1724-90] was impressed with a reverence for
Domenico Scarlatti by old [Thomas] Roseingrave’s account of his
wonderful performance on the harpsichord, was well as by his lessons;
and afterwards he became a great collector of his pieces, some of which
he had been honoured with from Madrid by the author himself. He was the
editor of twelve at one time and six at another, that are admirable,
though few have now perseverance sufficient to vanquish their peculiar
difficulties of execution. He is still in possession of many more, which
he has always locked up as Sybil’s leaves.
I do have
a copy of George’s diary and it’s an interesting story and a nice piece
of our family history, along with the Bikwil article on the First
Piano in Australia!