A title applied to a dramatic work. Although attempts have been made to identify them as members of a single, distinct genre, feste teatrali fall into two quite distinct classes: operas and serenatas (seeSerenata). When divided into acts, as in Marazzoli’s Gli amori di Giasone e d’Isifile (1642, Venice) and Cesti’s Il pomo d’oro (1668, Vienna), they belong to the first category; when they are undivided or consist of two parts, as in works written for the Viennese court to librettos supplied by Metastasio, Pariati, Pasquini and others, they belong to the second. What operas and serenatas so labelled have in common is that they are presented on stage (unlike most serenatas described merely as ‘drammatico’) and celebrate, often with direct allusions, some important public event such as an imperial birthday or wedding.
The first of Metastasio’s nine serenatas titled festa teatrale by their author was La contesa de’ numi (1729, Rome, music by Vinci); all the rest except La pace fra le tre dee were written for the Viennese court. The last work in the series was Hasse’s Partenope (1767). No librettist after Metastasio appears to have revived the term.
R.Monelle: ‘Gluck and the festa teatrale’, ML, liv (1973), 308–25
J.Joly: Les fêtes théâtrales de Métastase à la cour de Vienne (1731–1767) (Clermont-Ferrand, 1978)
Hungarian string quartet. One of Europe's most accomplished period-instrument quartets, it was founded in Budapest in 1982 by Istvan Kertész and Erika Petöfi, violins, Peter Ligeti, viola, and Reszö Pertorini, cello. While the Festetics's repertory embraces the complete quartets of Mozart (which it has recorded) and many of Beethoven's and Schubert's quartets, the group has a special affinity with the quartets of Haydn. Its complete recorded cycle of the quartets, made in collaboration with the noted Haydn scholar László Somfai and using the most authentic editions, has been widely praised for its perception and its unity of style. The Festetics performs regularly in Hungary and throughout Europe, and has appeared at major festivals in Budapest, Vienna, Stuttgart, Utrecht and elsewhere.
Festing, Michael Christian
(b London, 29 Nov 1705; d London, 24 July 1752). English composer and violinist. He was a son of John and Elizabeth Festing, and it is possible that the family had some connection with Gros Festin, near Stralsund in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. John Festing, one of his brothers, played the flute and the oboe, and left a sizable fortune, which he obtained mainly by teaching. He is believed to be the musician portrayed in Hogarth's painting The Enraged Musician (1741, now in the Tate Gallery, London).
Michael Christian Festing was primarily a violin virtuoso. He was taught the violin first by Richard Jones and then by Francesco Geminiani. Festing in his turn gave violin lessons, Thomas Arne being one of his pupils. It is likely that the manuscript discovered in 1993, containing three of Festing's op.4 violin solos (GB-Lbl), belonged to one of his pupils. His first public appearance was on 6 March 1723 at Hickford's Room, London, and the first mention of music composed by him occurs in a concert advertisement in 1726. In 1729 he performed at the York Buildings, Villiers Street, and his first published composition, Twelve Solos for a Violin and Thorough Bass op.1, dedicated to the Earl of Plymouth, appeared the following year. On 4 November 1726 he replaced James Moore as a member of the King's Musick. His close involvement with the court is shown by the appearance of three sets of minuets for the reigning monarch's birthday, each ‘perform'd at the Ball at Court’. Festing was also closely associated with amateur music societies, the earliest of which met at the Swan Tavern, Cornhill. He was a member of the Academy of Ancient Music, but he and Maurice Greene left over the Bononcini–Lotti affair of 1731 and set up the Apollo Academy in the Devil Tavern. According to Burney, Festing was director of the orchestra at the Italian opera house in 1737; however, Hawkins claimed that John Clegg became leader. In 1738 Festing and a group of colleagues founded the Fund for the Support of Decay'd Musicians and their Families, later known as the Royal Society of Musicians; for many years he acted as honorary secretary. All the notable musicians of the day, including Handel, became members. When the Ranelagh Gardens were opened in 1742, Festing was appointed musical director, providing compositions and leading the band for the next ten years. He had two sons and two daughters; Michael (b 1725) married Maurice Greene's daughter, Katherine.
Festing's works generally show a clear line of development from the Baroque to the galant style. The early instrumental pieces employ ground basses, canons at the octave and fugal treatments. His output in general is more adventurous than that of Geminiani, although in some respects close parallels can be drawn between the two composers. In particular, virtuoso improvisatory passages reflect the influence of Geminiani, rising as high as d'''', which was then regarded as the uppermost limit of the violin's register. Festing followed Geminiani's example in his elaborate and detailed ornamentation of the solo parts; more unusually, the bass lines (notably of the trio sonatas) are extensively marked with bowing, phrasing and ornaments. All Festing's works include sudden and unusual modulations. Key changes up or down a tone are common, and other dramatic modulations reflect the Spanish harmonies of Domenico Scarlatti. Some of Festing's vocal compositions were written for Ranelagh, and others were performed at the Apollo Academy. Most of the cantatas are homophonic, with orchestral accompaniments, and include arias with binary structure. In many respects they resemble the cantatas of John Stanley. His Ode on the Return of … the Duke of Cumberland is particularly noteworthy for its use of full Baroque orchestra including kettledrums, trumpets, oboes and horns. His Ode on St Cecilia's Day reflects the influence of Handel's oratorio Alexander's Feast. His odes and cantatas owe their importance to their break from the Italian tradition; the use of extended aria forms and inventive orchestration, and the imaginative use of dramatic gesture betray an English trait.
Minuets with their Basses for Her Majesty Queen Caroline's Birthday 1733, vn/rec/hpd, b (1733)
12 Concertos (1734), nos.1–8, 4 vn, va, vc, bc, nos.9–12, 2 rec, 2 vn, va, vc, bc
Minuets with their Basses for Her Majesty Queen Caroline's Birthday, vn/rec/hpd, b, bk 2 (1734)
Minuets with their Basses for His Majesty's Birthday, vn/rec/hpd, b (1735)
8 Solos, vn, bc (1736), 2 transcr. vc, GB-Lbl
6 Setts of Airs, 2 Ger. fl/vn, bc (1737)
8 Concertos, a 7, 4 vn, va, vc, bc (1739)
6 Sonata's, 2 vn, b (1742)
6 Solos, vn, bc (1747)
6 Solos, vn, bc (hpd) (c1750)
6 Concertos, 4 vn, va, vc, bc (hpd) (1756)
2 concs., F, ob, G, 2 ob, Lbl
2 concs., transcr. hpd, Ob Tenbury MS784; conc. no.2 transcr. from op.3 no.10 (without movt 3); conc. no.3 transcr. from op.5 no.1
2 solos, transcr. hpd, Ob Tenbury MS784; solo no.1 transcr. from op.1 no.9; solo no.4 transcr. from op.4 no.6
An English Cantata call'd Sylvia, and 2 songs (1744; 2/1747 with 5 songs)
An Ode on the Return of … the Duke of Cumberland, S, 2 ob, tr, 2 hn, kettledrum, 2 vn, bc (?1745; 2/1746 with 5 songs); text by Havard
Milton's May Morning and Several Other English Songs, S, 2 fl, 2 vn, bc (1748)
A Collection of  English Cantatas and Songs (1750)
6 English Songs and a Dialogue with a Duet (n.d.)
Single songs (c1730–50): Cupid Baffled; On Tree Top'd Hill; Reason for Loving, Address’d to Salinda; The Doubtful Shepherd (Lyttelton); The Lass of the Mill; The Poor Shepherd (Gay); Tis Not the Liquid Brightness; Yielding Fanny
For thee how I do mourn (ode), SATB, GB-Lcm
Ode on St Cecilia's Day (J. Addison), SATB, 2 vn, va, vc, bc, ob, Lcm
O Great George for ever, catch, 3vv, Lbl
Our God is Great (double canon), SATB, Ckc
The honest heart, song, Lbl, inserted in T.A. Arne's Love in a Village, 1762
Numerous works and arrs. appear in 18th-century anthologies: see RISM
DNB (J.A. Fuller-Maitland)
W.Wroth: London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1896; repr. London, 1979)
Gentleman's Magazine, xxii (1752), 337
M.Sands: Invitation to Ranelagh (London, 1946)
B.Lam: ‘Michael Festing’, MMR, lxxxi (1951), 31–4
G.Beechey: ‘Michael Christian Festing and his Violin Sonatas’, The Strad (1974), 339–51
B.Matthews: Members of the Royal Society of Musicians 1738–1984 (London, 1985)
R.Leppert: ‘Imagery, Musical Confrontation and Cultural Difference in Early 18th-Century London’, EMc, xiv (1986), 323–45
C.Price: ‘Newly Discovered Autograph Keyboard Music of Purcell and Draghi’, JRMA, cxx (1995), 7–111
H.D.Johnstone: ‘Yet More Ornaments for Corelli's Violin Sonatas, op.5’, EMc, xxiv (1996), 623–33
MELANIE GROUNDSELL (text, bibliography), ELIZABETH M. LAMB (work-list)