The Messiah, 1754

On the 24 December 1750 Abraham Adcock took office as a trumpeter in the court of King George, the role was largely ceremonial performing at state occasions including funerals and proclamations of war.
   The tradition of the state trumpeter began during the Restoration where fifteen trumpeters and one sergeant trumpeter were established and paid £60 per annum a piece, this later rose to £91 5s by the reign of William III. By 1782 the pay had fallen to £51 per annum with the inclusion of the officer’s trumpet, his livery every three years (worth £8 6s 8d), fees of honour; and fees for performance at court ceremonials and creations.
   Abraham continued to be employed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office for almost a decade and it may have been during this period that he married for the first time; in truth there is currently no information about, when, where and to whom he married, however when he married into the Croker family in 1761, he was described as ‘widowed’.

Foundling Hospital Chapel

Foundling Hospital Concert

In May 1754 Adcock is recorded as performing at the Foundling Hospital Concert of The Messiah earning a fee of half a guinea:

“[Edited] From the Minutes of the Committee of the Foundling Hospital, 29/05/1754
The Treasurer reported that the Net Money arising from the performance of the oratorio of the Messiah in the chapel of this hospital the 15th instant, amounted to the sum of £607. 17. 6.


To wit… £ s d
666 15 0 For 1219 tickets and by cash rec.
58 17 6 Paid for musicians, constables etc.

as by the following account

Adcock 10 6 –
Willis 8 – –
Fr. Smith 10 6 –
Trova 10 6 –
Miller 10 6 -”

According to John Tobin’s article from the Musical Times of April 1950 this is the first list of Messiah performers preserved at the Foundling Hospital and as a consequence ‘these lists give the names of numerous London musicians… Abraham Adcock and Justice Willis played the trumpet…’
   The first concert had been performed under Handel’s directorship in 1749, and the money arising from the proceeds was to be used in the completion of the hospital chapel. For the occasion, Handel had composed the anthem Blessed are they that considereth the poor and needy, thereafter known as the Foundling Hospital Anthem. The benefit concerts became an annual event, but Handel’s directorship may have ended with the concert of the 15 May 1754 where Adcock made his appearance.


charles_jennensCharles Jennens

The nature of the relationship between Handel and his musician can only be guessed, it may have been merely cursory; when and how they came together cannot be established, but it could have been when they were both working at the Covent Garden Theatre, or the initiator may have been Charles Jennens.
   Jennens was another Leicestershire man, born in 1700, he had worked as a librettist and collaborator on five Handel oratorios. It is possible that he had already recommended Adcock to the composer Richard Mudge who was searching for suitable musicians.
   Mudge published his set of concertos in 1749, though they may have actually been written earlier in the 1740s and some sources suggest that the Trumpet Concerto was actually written for Adcock.
   The genre was copied by Mudge’s fellow English composer Capel Bond. Adcock was engaged to perform Bond’s Trumpet Concerto at the Vauxhall Gardens season of 1754; he would later be employed by Bond to perform at the Birmingham Festival in 1768. 



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