Locke, Matthew: The Rare Theatrical
Facsimile: New York Public Library, Drexel MS 3976
Introduction by Peter Holman
The Rare Theatrical contains eight pieces called ‘Curtain Tune’, two called ‘Symphony’ and an ‘Act Tune’. Unfortunately, the pieces do not have titles that appear to relate to particular plays, so it is generally impossible to go further. However, there is no doubt that The Rare Theatrical also contains music that does not come from theatre suites, for example the six four-movement suites of ‘brawls’, one in each of the main sections.
The music is scored almost uniformly in four parts using a single treble over alto, tenor and bass, a scoring that was particularly associated with violin bands at the time. Since the English court violin band, the Twenty-four Violins, is known to have played both for court balls and in the London commercial theatres and Locke was one of its composers, we may conclude that The Rare Theatrical is in some way derived from its repertory.