Augustin’s London practice and publications

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Like other dancing masters, Augustin published books of dances. One is in the British Library, another is described by Lynham, and they give us some indication of Augustin’s status. There may have been more dance collections, now lost.

c.1950 Lynham traced a copy of a book then in the possession of Mrs Farebrother, a Noverre descendent, but now apparently lost: ‘Twelve Cotillons, two favourite Allemandes and six Minuets adapted by Augustin Noverre, Marlborough Street, London. Printed for William Napier, corner of Lancaster Court, Strand, Price 2/6’.

Lynham names two of the cotillons, which take their titles from Jean-Georges’ ballets, hence the adaptation. Grove gives the date of the ballets but nobody now knows who composed the music.

La Fontaine de Jouvenance, from the ballet of that name first performed in Paris in 1754 and in which Augustin may have danced. It was to have been shown at Drury Lane in 1755 but its wreaths, cradle, and very young Cupid were overtaken by riots.

La Toilette de Venus (the ballet title adds: ou les ruses de l’amour) was a ballet d’action first performed in Lyons, 1758.

Lynham names three minuets, each one a tribute to Augustin’s pupils and patrons: The Hon. Miss Thynne’s Minuet, Lady Charlotte Bertie’s Minuet, Miss Garrick’s Minuet. Miss Thynne was the eldest daughter of a branch of the courtier Thynne family, but which branch it is impossible to say. Charlotte Bertie was a daughter of the Earl of Lindsey. She was a court habituée c.1787 and a box subscriber at the King’s Theatre in 1787 and at the Pantheon in 1791.

Miss Garrick’s Minuet is really a tribute to David Garrick. Miss Garrick is either his sister or his niece as he had no children of his own. His sisters can be ruled out; Jane d.1746, Magdelene d.1762 and never left Lichfield; Merial married in 1754. Miss Garrick is, therefore, the elder Garrick niece, Arabella (Bell) b.1753. Her sister would correctly be Miss Catherine Garrick (Kitty) b.1756. The childless David Garrick and his wife took a lively interest in their colleagues’ children. When Colman’s three-year-old son visited them in 1766 Garrick wrote: ‘He is to make love to my niece Kitty and a plumb pudding.’

Arabella, Catherine and their three brothers, children of Garrick’s brother George, were treated by their uncle as his own. He sent his nephews to Eton and gave his nieces a fashionable education. In 1771 Fanny Burney described Arabella as ‘modest, reserved, quiet’, while the beauty, Catherine, was ‘all animation, spirit and openness’. In 1773 the sisters, aged 20 and 17, were sent to a select Paris boarding school run by Mme Descombes in the Faubourg St Honoré, where ‘finishing’ threatened to turn into one of Uncle David’s comedies. Arabella was pursued by an officer of dragoons. Clandestine letters were intercepted by Mme Descombes and sent to Garrick who ordered his nieces home in June 1775.

The dragoon continued his postal pursuit of Arabella, who kept him dangling until 1778 when she married Captain Frederick Schaw late of the 60th Regiment of Foot. Arabella died in 1819. Catherine married a Mr Payne, but her marriage and death dates are unknown.

Augustin probably taught both sisters; they were treated equally by their uncle and known as ‘the girls’, whose cheeky response was to call him ‘Fatty’. As to when Augustin taught them: a little polish before going to Paris, perhaps, or between 1775 and 1778.

The order of parts of the book: cotillons rather than minuets and no country dances suggests that it was compiled during the rage for Cotillon balls. It was published after Augustin moved to Great Marlborough Street between 1773 and 1784, but the dances would have been collected over a number of years. Miss Garrick may have become Mrs Schaw by its publication date. I don’t think the combined information fixes either Augustin’s removal date or the publication date which is not given by Lynham, but I think it was the earlier of the two extant books.

The British Library holds A new March, Six New Minuets, six new Cotillons and two new Country Dances, 3/6, to be had at Longman and Broderip, 26 Cheapside and T. Straights [the engraver] 138 St Martin’s Lane. The BL dates he book ‘1785?’. Longman and Broderip sold musical instruments and were music publishers of repute. From 1785 they published annual collections of Favourite Airs and Opera Dances, making music from the King’s Theatre available for domestic use in piano/violin/flute arrangements. Their customers were King’s Theatre box-holders from whom they collected subscriptions. For a provincial comparison with A New March, etc, the Norwich Mercury advertised annual collections of 12 or 24 country dances at 1/-, rising to 2/- by 1800.

On the title page of A New March is Augustin’s address: 48 Great Marlborough Street (present-day W.1, running east from Regent Street). It was then a smart address; Augustin was doing well. By 1838, Charles Darwin lived in the street and described it as ‘dingy’. Jean-Georges lived at no.40 during his 1787–89 seasons at the King’s Theatre.

The book contains no dedication; Augustin already had patronage and paid tribute by dedicating dances to his patrons. Nor did he need to finance the book by raising subscriptions.

Some of the music is attributed to two popular composers. Unattributed pieces may be Augustin’s own fiddle tunes or ‘borrowed’. He did not raid his brother’s ballets for this collection. The dances, spelled as printed are:

March: perhaps an entry for a pupils’ ball. The composer, ‘Mr Bartlémon’ was François Hippolyte Bartélemon, of whom, more anon.

Lady F. Finch’s Menuet, music by ‘Kotzwara’ – Frantisek Koczwara, a Bohemian with a lurid reputation.

The Hon. Miss Thynne’s Menuet by Koczwara

Miss Mawbey’s Menuet, unattributed

Lady H Grey’s Menuet, by Koczwara

Miss Haynes’ Menuet, by Koczwara

Mr Noverre’s Menuet, by ‘the most gentlemanly minuet dancer’ as his obituary claimed. The minuets are not notated but composed for the accepted sequence of figures.

The Cotillons are unattributed but notated: La Belle Assemble, Les Jolie Dame, La Jolie Flamande, L’Academie, Avril, Les Delies de Windsor. The titles have been garbled by somebody with poor French. Augustin’s spoken English was never good; cries of ‘Goddem! Goddem!’ indicated that he was lost for a translation.

The county dances are unattributed but notated: Miss Gregg’s Delight and Miss Stevenson’s Fancy.

Miss Thynne, Lady F. Finch and Lady H Grey belong to courtier families. Miss Mawbey was a politician’s daughter. Augustin may also have taught their brothers, but without paying flattering tribute. Les Delices de Windsor – as it should appear – looks as if Augustin was angling for court patronage but in this respect he was not his brother’s equal.

François Bartélemon, b.1741 in Bordeaux, d.1808 in Surrey, was a composer and violinist, and head of a family of musicians. He came to London in 1764, worked at Drury lane, became a friend of Haydn and a member of the Society of French Migrants. He composed operas, burletta and incidental music. He became band-leader and composer at the King’s Theatre in association with Jean-Georges.

Frantisek Koczwara, b.Prague c.1750, d.London 1791, was an itinerant musician who worked in London from c.1776. Like Bartélemon he played in the Concerts of Ancient Music patronised by George III (‘Ancient’, here, means more than 20 years old). In 1754 he composed The Battle of Prague, a popular concert item. He played double bass in the King’s Theatre band. He was not a respectable connection for either of the brothers Noverre; he practised ‘unusual vices’ and died from auto-erotic asphyxiation whilst misbehaving in a brothel. His female accomplice was convicted of murder and hanged.

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