The first day of musicOMH’s 2020 Classical Advent Calendar opens a door on a piece by the first organist of the rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral
The Prince of Denmark’s March (aka ‘Trumpet Voluntary’) by Jeremiah Clarke, who died on 1st December 1707. He was the very first Organist at the newly rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral, and he probably wrote this now-evergreen piece in 1699. It has accompanied many brides to the altar, including Lady Diana Spencer at her wedding to Prince Charles, which took place at St Paul’s.
A piece with such (generally) happy associations was, ironically, composed by a man whose unrequited devotion to a lady of higher rank than his own led to his suicide just eight years later – the story goes that Clarke tossed a coin to decide whether he should hang himself from a tree or drown himself, but the toss was inconclusive and he ended up shooting himself at home.
Despite this sad end to his life, his work lives on as an inspiring occasion piece; we’ve chosen a slightly off-beat version of it, showcasing the natural trumpet – it’s played here by Julian Zimmerman, with Daniela Niedhammer on the organ.