Michael Christian Festing, classical music composer

Michael Christian Festing


Though Michael Christian Festing was a prominent musician in London during his lifetime, he is largely known today for his work as a violin virtuoso. Born in the English capital on November 28, 1705, he studied first with Richard Jones and then with Francesco Geminiani, himself a former pupil of Alessandro Scarlatti. On March 6, 1723, Festing made his profession debut at a concert at Hickford's Rooms, London. Around this time, he also began to compose, naturally at first predominantly for his instrument, and the first known account of his music being performed is from an advertisement for a 1726 concert.

Festing's career was beginning to take off in the mid-1720s. The same year as the aforementioned concert, he helped found the Academy of Ancient Music, an organization with the purpose of playing music composed at least a century earlier. Its name and mission were reincarnated in 1973 as a period-instrument orchestra based in Cambridge, England. Festing later left the Academy in 1731. Also that year, he succeeded James Moore as a member of the King's Musick, and in 1734 and 1735 performed minuets for the birthdays of King George II and Queen Caroline. His first composition to be published, Twelve Solos for a Violin and Thorough Bass, op. 1, appeared in 1730. He became the director of the Italian opera house in 1737, and the following year cofounded the Fund for the Support of Decay'd Musicians and Their Families (later known as the Royal Society of Musicians) with Edward Purcell, Thomas Arne, William Boyce, Johann Christoph Pepusch and George Frederic Handel.  In 1742, Festing became the music director of the Ranelagh Gardens, which turned his work as a composer towards vocal music instead of instrumental. He died in London on July 24, 1752.

Festing composed a significant number of compositions ranging from sonatas, concertos and chamber music, to odes and cantatas. His career spanned the period of change between the florid Late Baroque and the galant style of the early Classical period, and consequently the music of his early and late periods, respectively, reflect these divergent styles. His music often employed sudden modulations, particularly to a key either a whole tone higher or lower, which gives it some resemblance to the works of Domenico Scarlatti. In his vocal music, which became more prominent at Ranelagh, he utilized more dramatic effects that were more distinctly English and not frequently seen in the dominant Italian style.

Composer Title Date Action
Michael Christian Festing Sonata VIII 02/03/2010 Play Add to playlist