WITCHES ON A TRIP TO NAPLES

Henry MOZE, arr. JACKSON

 

Almost nothing is known about Henry Moze except that he was organist of St. Katherine by the Tower in London from 1763 until his death in 1787.

 “The Overture to the Entertainment of the Witches, or A Trip to Naples” (1770) is the only composition of his which has survived.  I found an incomplete set of parts to this work in the Library of Cambridge University and reconstructed the missing parts.

 I then expanded the original orchestration (strings, oboes and horns) to include other instruments of the modern orchestra and redistributed the 2nd violin part so that the piece could be played by a smaller ensemble.

 The minimum orchestration for a workable play-through is flute, oboe, violin and ‘cello, but this sounds a little thin and the addition of clarinet, 2 horns and viola makes it much more satisfactory.  The bassoon, trumpet, trombone, timpani and double bass parts are not structurally important, but add a great deal to the texture of the score and make for a colourful performance.

 For many years, friends and colleagues who played this work, (unable to find out very much about Henry Moze), were convinced that I had composed it myself as an elaborate joke.  They were particularly interested in the use of the word “trip” in the title, as it sounds rather modern.  In fact, it has been used to mean journey (usually a short or cheap one) since the early eighteenth century.

 The current title of “The Witches on a Trip to Naples” came about because of the indistinct typeface on the facsimile copies which Cambridge University kindly lent me: the “r” in “or” looked like an “n”.

 If anybody is able to unearth more information about Henry Moze, I would be delighted to hear it and, particularly, are there any other works of his (however fragmentary) out there?  He was clearly a competent composer with dramatic flair and a good ear for melody in the tradition of English popular theatre.

 

Andy Jackson

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