CECILIA MARIA BARTHÉLEMON
(1 Sept. 1767–5 Dec 1859)
II. Surviving Works, New Editions, Recordings
The English singer, composer, pianist, and organist Cecilia Maria Barthelemon was the daughter of two leading London musicians: the singer and composer Maria Barthelemon, née Mary (Polly) Young, and the violinist François-Hippolyte Barthélemon. She was raised to be a musician. As a baby she evidently accompanied her parents on their tour to Dublin, Ireland, in 1771–72. Her parents were probably her first music teachers; she played harpsichord and piano, also organ and harp, and she sang. When they toured Germany, France, and Italy in 1776–77 she sang for the King of Naples and for Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France; it is also reported that she sat on the lap of Marie-Antoinette while her parents performed. She reportedly studied harpsichord, piano, and organ with the Leipzig musician Johann Samuel Schröter (ca. 1752–1788) who was then in London. After 1778 she occasionally appeared on stage with her parents, sometimes performing her own songs and keyboard works.
Her public debut as a singer was on 3 March 1779 at the Haymarket Theatre; between Parts I and II of Handel’s Messiah, she and her mother sang an Italian duet. Further public appearances followed. In April 1782, in an amateur production on a private estate, Cecilia Maria played the part of First Fairy in a musical play, The Arcadian Pastoral, for which her father led the orchestra and her mother organized a small off-stage chorus. In April of 1784, at a performance of Thomas Arne’s opera Eliza, presented as a benefit concert for her father, after Act I she played a piano concerto (her father accompanied her on the viola d’amore), and after Act II she and her mother sang a “favorite” Italian duetto.
Her published music all dates from around 1786 to 1795; the dedications indicate the Barthelemon family’s position as musicians to the English elite. Her debut publication was the customary volume of sonatas: Three Sonatas for the Piano-Forte, or Harpsichord, the Second with an Accompaniment for the Violin … opera prima, published by “the author” in 1786. The 22-page volume is dedicated to Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia Matilda (the composer’s teacher, Schröter, had been Music Master to the queen’s household since 1782), and the list of around 325 subscribers includes many members of the royal family, the nobility, and leading musicians, including Mrs. Miles (née Guest) and Miss Savage.
The Barthélemons became friends of Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) during his stay in England in the 1790s, and he often visited the family at No. 8, Kennington Place, Vauxhall. He gave copies of his music to Cecilia Maria Barthelemon, then in her early twenties; she later inscribed it with recollections of his visits to her family’s home when he sang his canzonettas while accompanying himself on the piano. In 1792 she published Two Sonatas for the Piano-Forte, or Harpsichord, with Accompaniments for the Violin [in no. 1], German Flute [in no. 2] & Violoncello [in both] … , opera seconda, dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Dutchess of York, who was also one of Haydn’s many English friends and patrons. Cecilia Barthelemon’s next published work was the Sonata for the Piano-Forte or Harpsichord … dedicated to J. Haydn M. D. [doctor of music] … op. 3, published in 1794. It is a three-movement work in G major with a distinctly Haydnesque wit. Her last published sonata was A Sonata for the Piano-Forte or Harpsichord, with an Accompaniment for a Violin … op. IV, which appeared around 1795.
Her 1795 piece, The Capture of the Cape of Good Hope, for the Piano Forte or Harpsichord, Concluding with a Song and Chorus, is an example of an exceedingly popular genre of the time, the “battle sonata,” celebrating a military victory, in this case a British victory. The Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa had been the site of a Dutch settlement and a provisionary station for the Dutch East India Company since the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1793, during the French Revolutionary Wars, France declared war on Holland and Britain and Spain; Holland put up little resistance, and in 1795 made peace with France, coming under French protection as the Batavian Republic. The capture of the Cape of Good Hope by British naval forces that year was thus crucial to Britain’s defense against French imperial designs. Miss Barthelemon perceived the event as a cause for celebration in music, and so did her publisher. The composer dedicated the piece “to Vice Admiral the Honorable Sir George Keith Elphinstone, KB.”
The inscriptions in her copies of Haydn’s music under two names, Hinchcliffe and Henslowe (or Henslow), indicate that she was married twice; she and Henslowe evidently had a daughter, Fanny. On the title page of Haydn’s aria Son pietosa, she wrote:
Mio caro Maestro Haydn gave me this Song when I was Caecilia Maria Barthelemon (now Hinchcliffe) often have I sat with him when he play’d his Sweet Canzonetts & he used to shed tears when he sang “The Season comes when first we met but you return no more” & I said to him, “Papa Haydn, Why do you cry?” & he said, “Oh! my dear Child. I do not like to leave my English Friends, they are so kind to me!”
On her copy of the Second Sett of Dr Haydn’s VI Original Canzonettas she wrote her name Cecilia Maria Henslow, and continued:
I had the great pleasure to hear the famous Doct. Haydn play & sing his beautiful Canzonetts,
(in my youth) in my Dear Father’s House at Vauxhall. Oh! what a treat it was! The dear good &
respected Haydn was often with us — & express’d much pleasure, when my beloved mother
took the upper part (with me) of a Duett of Handels (in his fine Opera of Poro) … .
To this Cecilia Maria’s daughter added the following: “Given into my hands by my dear Mother. Fanny H. Henslowe.”
Cecilia Maria’s marriage to Captain E. P. Henslowe1 has been dated as late 1796, perhaps December. A few years later she was a subscriber to Haydn’s Creation, listed as “Mrs Ed. Henslow.”
She does not appear to have had an independent performing career or to have continued publishing music after her marriage—although the op. 2 sonatas were reprinted around 1803, the copy in the New York Public Library being her autographed presentation copy to Henslowe. By her mid-twenties she had left the professional music world and what Cyril Ehrlich, in his history of the music profession in Britain, calls her “auspicious career,” perhaps for the financial stability of a “good” marriage. The date of her death is unknown.
II. Surviving Works, New Editions, Recordings
The works are listed in order of publication. Library locations are from Barbara Garvey Jackson, “Say Can You Deny Me”: A Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th through the 18th Centuries (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1994), 44–5.
Op. 1: Three Sonatas for the Piano-Forte, or Harpsichord, the Second with an Accompaniment for the Violin … opera prima. Vauxhall: The Author, 1786. Score, 22 pp. Dedicated to Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia Matilda. GB: Bu, Lbl (2 ex., one dated ), Ob. H: Bn. US: NYp (with composer’s autograph).
- New edition of sonata no. 2 in Cecilia Maria Barthélemon: Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas, ed. Calvert Johnson (Fayetteville: ClarNan Editions, 1994).
- Recording of sonata no. 3 on Kingdom (UK) CD 2010 (1989), “Music for solo harpsichord by 18th century women composers”; Barbara Harbach, harpsichord.
Op. 2: Two Sonatas for the Piano-forte, or harpsichord, with accompaniments for the violin [and violoncello in no. 1], german Flute & Violoncello [in no. 2] … opera seconda. Dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Dutchess [sic] of York. [London, 1792]. Parts. GB: Bu, Lbl, Ob.
———. Ibid. London: Vauxhall, 1792. D: KUNikb (cat. date as 1729).
———. Ibid. London: for the author by E. Riley . . . [1803?]. US: NYp (composer’s presentation copy to Henslowe [her husband], with autograph).
- New edition in Cecilia Maria Barthélemon: Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas, ed. Calvert Johnson. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.
Op. 3: Sonata for the Piano-Forte or Harpsichord … dedicated to J. Haydn M.D. … op. 3. London: John Bland, 1794. 9 pp. GB: Gu, Lbl, Ob. H: Bn.
- New edition, ed. Sally Fortino. Bryn Mawr: Hildegard, 1995.
- Recorded on Gasparo CD 281 (1990), “18th Century Solo Harpsichord Music by Women Composers, vol. II,” Barbara Harbach, harpsichord.
Op. 4: A Sonata for the Piano-Forte or Harpsichord, with an Accompaniment for a Violin … op. IV. Dedicated to Her Majesty The Queen of Naples. London: Longman & Broderip, for the Authoress [c1795]. Parts. GB: Gu (incomplete), Lbl (2 ex.), Ob.
- New edition in Cecilia Maria Barthélemon: Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas, ed. Calvert Johnson (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1994).
The Capture of the Cape of Good Hope, for the pianoforte or harpsichord, concluding with a song and chorus. Dedicated to Sir George Keith Elphinstone, KB. [London]: Lewis Lavenu . GB: Lbl.
New edition, with introduction by D. Hayes, in Women Composers: Music Through the Ages, edited by Sylvia Glickman and Martha Schleifer (12 vols; New York: G. K. Hall/Macmillan, 1995– ), vol. 3, pp. 213–232.
Baldwin, Olive, and Thelma Wilson. “Cecilia Maria Barthélemon.” New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers. London: Macmillan, 1994. Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers. New York: Norton, 1995.
Caldwell, John. English Keyboard Music Before the Nineteenth Century. New York: Praeger, 1973.
Ehrlich, Cyril. The Music Profession in Britain Since the Eighteenth Century: A Social History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.
Fiske, Roger. English Theatre Music in the Eighteenth Century. 2nd edn; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Gribenski, Jean. “François Hippolyte Barthélémon.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, XV (supp.). Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1973: cols 514-515.
Hogan, Charles Beecher. The London Stage, 1660–1800, “Part 5: 1776–1800.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968.
Jackson, Barbara Garvey. “Say Can You Deny Me”: A Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th through the 18th Centuries. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.
Johnson, Calvert. Preface to Cecilia Maria Barthélemon: Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas, ed. Calvert Johnson. Fayetteville, AR: ClarNan Editions, 1993.
Landon, H. C. Robbins. Haydn in England 1791–1795. Vol. 3 of The Collected Correspondence and London Notebooks of Joseph Haydn. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976.
Raessler, Daniel M. “London’s Dancing Dogs, or, The Other Pianoforte School.” Early Keyboard Journal 13 (1995): 81–105.
Sands, Mollie. “Polly (Mary) Young [Mrs. Barthélemon].” In New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan, 1980: XX, 578.
Shedlock, John South. The Piano-Forte Sonata: Its Origins and Development (1895). Rept.; New York: Da Capo Press, 1965.
Zaslaw, Neal. “François-Hippolyte Barthélemon.” In New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan, 1980: II, 194.