Amongst other milestones and having discovered Uranus, everyone knows what Sir William Herschel stands for in the world of astronomy. But as a composer? Interestingly, he spent a large part of his life as a professional musician and amateur astronomer, and held several musical director and organist positions in Bath.
There is of course a long tradition of a relationship between music and astronomy. There was a time when musicians and astronomers were trained in the same disciplines, when they could claim equal knowledge of the music of the spheres. But not Herschel, he wasn’t mystical or metaphysical in his approach to the art of music. He was a practical musician of his time, and he lived in a time when musicians were very occupied with the problems of survival. His whole family were involved in music at a high level of performing, and his sister Caroline was an accomplished soprano, especially during their time in Bath.
A contemporary of Mozart, Herschel composed and performed a variety of works including six symphonies, 12 concertos and 33 voluntaries and pieces for organ. In his house in Bath, 19 New King Street, the Herschel Museum fills the senses with the strains of his beautiful compositions as we imagine the excitement when Herschel found the first planet to be discovered with the telescope.
Today (14th March) Junior Consort will perform a composition by the Bath composer, Jools Scott, written for Shean Bowers and the Melody Makers of Bath Abbey, in tribute to the late Stephen Hawking – The Galaxy, from The Music of the Spheres with words by Sue Curtis 'Echoes of the Milky Way….'
Mrs Bethan Fryar (Director of Vocal Studies)