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Senate House Library

Discovery of one of the first ‘benefit concerts’ in 18th century collections


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SHL Research Collections

Senate House Library staff have discovered a very rare book detailing what appears to be a unique benefit concert held in the 18th century.

As part of a wider project to catalogue some 18th century works in storage, we found a collection known as “Music Locked Cupboard”. In it there is a volume by Thomas and Michael Arne which contains the music performed at a special benefit event in Covent Garden on the night of 19 March 1773 for what appears to have been a hurricane in the West Indies. There is an oratorio by Michael Arne (son of Thomas – composer of Rule Britannia) Within this volume there is a piece called “The Thunder Ode: written on the hurricanes in the West Indies.” A newspaper review the next morning read:

“The several musical Pieces performed last night at Covent Garden Theatre were very favourably received by a numerous Audience… the Thunder Ode composed by Mr Michael Arne met with the greatest applause”

SHL Research Collections