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22 November
Feast Day of Music
Johann Elias Ridinger, St. Cecilia with the Harp
S. Cæcilia, Ioh. El. Ridinger excud. A. V.

in Honor of Saint Cecilia

22 November 1739

Premiere

of George Fredrick Handel’s Famous

Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day

» (In  the)  rich  print  room  in  Dresden  only …

I  have  found  the  by  far  largest  part  of  the  mezzotints …

The  mezzotints

are  almost  unavailable  in  the  trade … «

Georg Aug. Wilh. Thienemann

(Life and Work of the Incomparable Animal Painter and Engraver

Johann Elias Ridinger)

275 Years Ago
— 22 November 1739 —
Premiere
of George Fredrick Handel’s Famous
Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day
at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre

Especially in the 17th and 18th century celebrated as “Feast Day of Music” with divine services and specifically composed concerts, November 22 is dedicated to the ecclesiastical memory of this noble Roman of the 3rd century. So also George Frederick Handel set John Dryden’s (1631-1700) Song for St. Cecilia’s Day from 1687, considered a masterpiece of English poetry, in music for the celebrations of 1739. And moreover combined the premiere of this Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day at the London Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre with a new performance of the almost four years older oratorio Alexander’s Feast as setting of Dryden’s Alexander’s Feast – or the Power of Musick –; an Ode wrote in Honour of St. Cecilia of 1692, published in turn to St. Cecilia’s Day 1697.

Dramatizing the episode on the banquet after the conquest of Persepolis 330 BC delivered to posterity by Plutarch, when Timotheus induces Alexander the Great by song and music to exact revenge on the defeated Persians by burning the city down. Yet ultimately culminating in the praise of Cecilia: indeed the pre-Christian bard could raise a mortal to the skies, but drawing down an angel was reserved for divine Cecilia, extending the hitherto musical limitations:

Enlarg’d the former narrow bounds,
And added length to solemn sounds,
With Nature’s mother-wit, and arts unknown before.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
Or both divide the crown;
He rais’d a mortal to the skies,
She drew an angel down.

Having been made inventress of the organ by the legend, she is throughout the year and beyond the confessions the patroness of music, in particular of sacred music. And still in 1942 Benjamin Britten venerated her anew by the Hymn to St. Cecilia.

Contemporarily
to Handel’s Odes for Saint Cecilia
Alexander’s Feast, or The Power of Musick
&
Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day
Ridinger created as Homage to the
Patroness of Music
his S. Cæcilia ,
here with the Harp as Rarer Attribute ,

adorned with martyr’s palm leaf & the head of an angel. Beside her an almost unclothed sympathetic young angel reading the notes. Mezzotint engraving. Inscribed: Ioh. El. Ridinger excud. A. V., otherwise as above within a large shell-cartouche in the lower margin. 20⅛ × 15¼ in (51.2 × 38.8 cm).

Stillfried (1876) 1420. – Not in Thienemann (1856) and with the exception of Counts of Faber-Castell (1958) here not provable elsewhere either. – Size variant unknown to Schwarz (Collection Baron von Gutmann, 1910) who in doubt about the – by the one here now confirmed – size stated by Stillfried in the 3rd appendix to Thienemann queries his copy of 24¼ × 19½ in (61.5 × 49.5 cm) listed under the same number. – Tipped of old at the corners on especially wide-margined heavy laid paper touched by browning at two of the far edges. – With fine little paper margin throughout below and intermitted here and there at the sides, above trimmed to platemark.

The rich sheet in rarer composition

in the excellent copy regarding printing and conservation

of a cultivated collection of in all parts nuanced, shining chiaroscuro. And in such a manner of quite extraordinary rarity not only on the market as quoted above, but in general, too. Already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “clean prints” of the velvety mezzotint manner at only c. “50 or 60” (!). “Soon after (the picture) grinds off for it not goes deeply into the copper.” Correspondingly then, it shall be repeated, Thienemann in 1856 :

“ The mezzotints are almost not to be acquired in the trade anymore …

and most of them I found in the Dresden printroom alone. ”

Not even there

then yet the one present here,

becoming known and described for the very first time

only 20 years later by Count Stillfried!

Here then furthermore

WITH THE RARER ATTRIBUTE OF THE HARP

as at the same time that hitherto uncommon musical instrument Handel introduced in Alexander’s Feast. Just as the lute in the Ode.

Saint Cecilia besides belonging to that “exclusive communion of divine intervenients – or, stated Protestantly, divine representatives – ” which quite topically, though “already for a longer while historians have rediscovered (for themselves) … (and) revived scientifically” (Peter Burschel reviewing Brad Stephan Gregory’s Salvation at Stake — Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe in the FAZ of August 2, 2000).

Offer no. 28,402 / EUR  1738. / export price EUR  1651. (c. US$ 1780.) + shipping


“ I received the (Ridinger) prints yesterday in perfect shape due to your careful and thorough packaging. They are spectacular … I believe I can safety say you are Honorable and Trustworthy … You will always have me as a Devoted customer. Regards. And God Bless. ”

(Mr. L. A. F., July 1, 2004)