Marking The Event

Bridget Kendall looks at three of the most colourful and flamboyant political and royal summits in history, and examines the role music played in such events.


01The Toledo Summit Of 15022006072520060729

In 1502, three of the most influential courts in Europe converged when Philip the Fair, Duke of Burgundy arrived in Toledo with his Spanish wife Juana la Loca to be sworn in as heirs to the thrones of Castile and Aragon.

Over the next four months a whole series of ceremonies took place, providing a platform for cultural exchange between the Spanish musicians of the courts of Isabella and Ferdinand and the visiting Flemish performers, who included some of the very finest musicians of the age.

02The Royal Marriage Of 15892006080120060805

The scale of the spectacle organised in Florence for the wedding celebrations of the Grand Duke, Ferdinando de'Medici, and the French Princess, Christine of Lorraine, still impresses five centuries later.

This rich musical feast required the combined efforts of the entire artistic, intellectual and administrative forces of Tuscany to create a month of pageantry, political ceremonial and unequalled theatrical achievement.

03 LASTThe Coronation Of George Ii (1727)2006080820060812

Bridget Kendall turns the clock back to 18th century London and Westminster Abbey for the last programme in this series which looks at the role played by music at some of the most significant political and royal events in history.

After the death of George I unexpectedly in 1727, his son George II was keen to make a big splash.

Sweeping aside tradition and clearly possessing a theatrical bent the new King decided on Handel, the famous composer of opera as the best person to write four anthems for his coronation service.

The music included gems such as the magnificent Tallis litany O God, the Father of Heaven, Purcell's I Was Glad.

Handel more than rose to the occasion producing some of the best ceremonial music ever heard, including the legendary Zadok the Priest.