-Let's say I have a character who lives in England whose parents moved to America for some reason or another (it's not really important as to why). A voyage across the Atlantic takes roughly three months, right? So obviously any letters they write to each other would have a somewhat significant lag between when they were sent and when they are recieved.
What I'm unsure about is how often, if at all, the parents would be able to make a trip back to England to visit their family there. They're an upper middle-class family, so I'm assuming they'd have the money to visit at least once if they wanted (unless I'm just way off with that). Is that something that was even done back then? How long would they stay in England to make a six-month round-trip stay on a ship worthwhile?
-Now let's say the son who's in England and his wife take a trip to Italy, not for business purposes. They don't have any children to worry about. Say they leave from London, about how long would it take to get from there to, I dunno, Rome? What kinds of things might one do during a trip to Italy during that time? This couple really enjoys music, so I'm guessing seeing at least one opera would be a must :}. As with the earlier scenario, how long would they probably be staying in Italy in order to make their travels worthwile? Would an upper middle-class couple even be able to do such a thing to begin with?
Random sidenote question that's also been bothering me: This guy is proficient in Italian, certainly enough to do what needs to be done while in Italy. But let's say he isn't, and neither is his wife, and let's assume for the fun of it that they don't have any old family friends or aquaintances in Italy that know English. How would they get around?
-Unrelated question (sorta), but during that time period, how common would have small chamber groups have been (chamber groups are small groups of musicians, usually either string players or woodwinds, rarely mixing the two, of about 4-8 members or so; not to be confused with the orchestras of the time, which could sometimes be that small)? I know they were more common than you find nowadays, but would it be reasonable for a musician to make his living in such a group or not? I know this could depend greatly on whether or not the group played for upper-class patrons or whatever. Were such chamber groups just made of musicians pulled from a local professional orchestra, or were they individuals who found each other and decided to form a group? For what kinds of things could they be hired? How likely would it be that say a string group had a continuo/keyboard player, or how often would they need to drag one in if they didn't? Along those lines, how likely would it be for someone to make a living as a keyboardist, assuming he didn't have a position as something like the organist of a church? How likely would it have been than a keyboardist would have doubled on a more common instrument (violin, maybe?)?
And last but not least, who played the music for operas, if the opera house itself didn't have an orchestra (or did all opera houses have their own orchestras)? The local professionals or individuals that were plled together to form a group?
Sorry for so many questions at once ^^;.