We eagerly awaited the premiere of Downton Abbey which was on PBS last night, and I was especially interested to see what was used for the music for Mary and Matthew’s wedding. It was John Stanley’s Trumpet Voluntary in D. This is a piece which I have played countless times, both as a solo organist and with a trumpeter.
Here is a video of this piece, in a performance by organist Bernhard Hannöver:
John Stanley (1712-1786) was a blind organist. I didn’t know till now, however, that it was an accident when he was 2 years old, that caused his blindness when he fell on a marble hearth with a china basin in his hand. He was a student of Maurice Greene, and was appointed to his first church job at age eleven. Apparently Georg Frideric Handel regularly heard Stanley perform on organ and harpsichord at the Society of the Inner Temple. Here’s what I found interesting from the Wikipedia entry:
Though virtually blind, Stanley had a remarkable memory which helped him direct many of Handel’s oratorios and to enjoy music-making and card games with his many friends. If he had to accompany a new oratorio he would ask his sister-in-law to play it through just once—enough to commit it to memory.
The term “trumpet voluntary” even has its own Wikipedia entry. It is a piece featuring the trumpet stop, and alternates with “plenum” — full organ. The most famous Trumpet Voluntary (also called “The Prince of Denmark’s March”) is the one by Jeremiah Clarke (1674-1707), and was used for the wedding of Princess Diana to Prince Charles. Click here and you’ll recognize it.