The Arts In Berwick -- Music

Silence is Golden

Music for civic ceremonies from 16th-19th.Centuries were provided in Berwick by the town 'waites'. Early on some of these were quite talented -- for example between 1735 and 1758 John Oswald from Crail was employed to lead the waits. His son James Oswald (1710-1769) became one of the leading composers of his day in the Scots/Italian style eventually ending up at the court of George III. Oswald's music is now enjoying something of a revival.

But by the 19th.century the waits' lack of talent had become an embarrassment and the post was abolished. The eccentric beggar 'Jimmy Strength' (1728?-1844) was little better, most people giving him money to get him to stop playing. Rather more talented was the famous virtuoso Niccolo Paginini who gave a recital in Berwick on 2nd.October 1833. But then, as everyone knew at the time, he had sold his soul to the Devil to play like that.

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