Artist’s Own Words
This program is dedicated to the memory of Richard
Campbell, founding member of Fretwork, who took his own life in March 2011. In
the last few years of his life, Richard had been ruminating on a program for
Fretwork based on Thomas Mace’s book Musick’s
Monument …, published in 1676. Richard had strong connections with
Cambridge, where Mace lived most of his life and where Richard studied
Classics; and to Trinity College, where Mace had sung for the majority of his
life and where Richard’s grandfather had been Master.
the depression that he fought often deprived him of the ability to make
decisions, and his plans were never written down. But the following famous
passage surely provides a reason why this book should provide a template for
We had for our grave musick, fancies of three, four, five, and six parts to the
organ; interpos’d (now and then) with some pavans, allmaines, solemn and sweet delightful ayres; all which were (as it were) so
many pathetical stories, rhetorical, and
sublime discourses; subtil, and accute argumentations; so suitable and agreeing
to the inward, secret, and intellectual faculties of the soul and mind; that to
set them forth according to their true praise, there are no words sufficient in
language; yet what I can best speak of them, shall be only to say, that they
have been to myself (and many others) as divine raptures, powerfully
captivating all our unruly faculties and affections, (for the time) and
disposing us to solidity, gravity, and a good temper; making us capable of
heavenly and divine influences.
authors of such like compositions, have been divers famous English men, and
Italians; some of which for their very great eminency and worth in that
particular faculty, I will here name, viz. Mr. Alfonso Ferrabosco, Mr. John
Ward, Mr. [Thomas] Lupo, Mr. [William] White, Mr. Richard Deering, Mr. William Lawes, Mr. John Jenkins, Mr.
Christopher Simpson, Mr. [John] Coprario, and one Monteverdi, a famous Italian
author; besides divers, and very many others, who in their late time,
were all substantial, able, and profound composing masters in this art, and
have left their works behind them, as fit monuments, and patterns for sober and
wise posterity, worthy to be imitated and practiced: ’Tis great pity they are
too soon forgot, and neglected, as I perceive they are amongst many.
And these things were performed upon so many equal and truly sciz’d viols; and
so exactly strung, tun’d and play’d upon, as no one part was any impediment to
the other; but still (as the composition required) by intervals, each part
amplified and heightened the other.
This list of composers is as informative for the composers mentioned as for
those omitted: no Byrd, Gibbons, Dowland, Tomkins, or Locke. All those
mentioned were born at the end of the previous century, or early in the 17th;
none—apart from an aged Jenkins—were still alive when Mace published his book.
Mace himself was immensely long-lived for the 17th century: He was 94 years old
when he died in 1706. Mace was most likely talking about music meetings in
Cambridge (and perhaps York) during the 1630s and ’40s.
His book is entitled Musick’s Monument; or, A remembrancer of the best practical musick, both divine, and civil, that has
ever been known, to have been in the world. This long and entertainingly
verbose work is a vanity project of an old man maddened by the current fashion
for (in his view) inferior, superficial music, which had replaced the superior,
substantial, and serious music of his youth. Mace ranted against the new “high
scoulding violins,” for example, preferring the more interior world of the
viol. Although certainly a royalist, there is more than a hint of the Puritan
These ideas resonate strongly today, as the rejection of new music has been a
strong driving force behind the rediscovery of old music. But Mace is
attempting to preserve something which he knew, something that was slipping
from his grasp; he reminisces about composers, music, players, practices, and
music meetings that were current in his younger days.
It’s a shame that Mace’s own part-books haven’t survived, though several sets
from similar groups of players have; in these books, we see works from exactly
the kind of mix of composers that Mace mentions—mostly English, though mixed
with Italian madrigals by Monteverdi and Marenzio.
Alfonso Ferrabosco was born in Greenwich, the son of an Italian musician who was
greatly valued by Elizabeth I. In fact, when the father returned to Italy, Elizabeth kept the son in England to ensure the
father’s return—but to no avail. The younger Ferrabosco took up the post
of “musitian for the violles” at the court, and taught the young Prince Henry.
He collaborated with Ben Jonson and Inigo
Jones on elaborate masques, and he was one of the leading exponents of
the lyra viol, publishing a compendious volume of music for lyra in 1609.
John Ward was born and
educated in Canterbury and flourished under the patronage of Sir Henry Fanshawe. He then worked as an attorney for
Fanshawe’s son, Sir
Thomas; he does not appear to have worked as a professional musician. Ward
lived his life in London, and this gave him the opportunity to write consort
music for viols.
Lupo was part of the third generation of a Jewish-Italian-Iberian
family that had been employed by Henry VIII in 1540. Lupo was central to the
musical establishment based around young Prince Charles that included Orlando
Gibbons, John Coprario, and Alfonso Ferrabosco.
We know very little about William White.
He seems to have had connections with Durham in the northeast of England;
Thomas Tomkins dedicated a song to him. His consorts of five and six parts were
very popular, and appear to have been written in the 1630s.
Dering is unusual in this list in having converted to
Catholicism while in Rome; he seems to have spent a good deal of his life on
the continent. However, he returned in 1625 to work for the Queen and King
until his death. His Italian compositions—consisting of madrigals and
canzonettas—were all published, but his English music was not.
William Lawes was the younger of two composer brothers. He was apprenticed to
Coprario at the Earl of Hertford’s Wiltshire estate, where he most likely also
met Ferrabosco. He may well have been friends with the young Prince Charles.
Lawes’s brilliant consort music was probably written after 1635, when he joined
the Royal musical establishment. In 1642, he enrolled as a soldier in the
Royalist army, and he may have been involved in the Siege of York in 1644 (as
was Thomas Mace); he met his end in the Siege of Chester in 1645.
Jenkins was almost as long-lived as Mace,
and was unusual in that he had no court appointment until the restoration of
the monarchy in 1660. He spent his life living at the grand houses of
patrons—principally, the Norths, Lady Warwick, the Derhams, and the L’Estrange
family at Hunstanton. Having a reputation of being an extraordinary musician,
he came to London and was brought to play the lyra viol before Charles I.
Simpson was also a Catholic. He served on
the Royalist side in the war like Lawes, but fortunately survived. His most
famous work is The Division Viol of
1665, which was described by Sir Roger L’Estrange as “one of the best tutors in
the world” for the bass viol.
Coprario was born as “John Cooper,” or
“Cowper,” but affected an Italian termination, probably after a trip to Italy.
His chief patron was Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury; he was also a frequent
visitor to Hatfield House, Cecil’s home. Coprario was also patronized by the
earls of Hertford and Cumberland, and was part of Prince Charles’s musical
Monteverdi was the most important composer of
his generation. His five books of madrigals were immensely popular and
important in disseminating the advanced techniques he had developed. Lawes was
clearly influenced by them, and they were often performed purely instrumentally
by English viol players in the 17th century.
“Dolcememente dormiva la mia Clori” is from his second book of madrigals,
published in 1590, setting a text by Torquato Tasso:
Dolcemente dormiva la mia Clori
e intorn’al suo bel volto
givan scherzand’i pargolett’amori.
Mirav’io da me tolto,
con gran diletto lei,
quando dir mi sentei:
stolto, che fai?
tempo perduto non s’acquista mai.
Allor io mi chinai così pian piano
e baciandole il viso,
provai quanta dolcezz’ha il paradiso.
My Cloris was sleeping sweetly,
with little putti playing
around her beautiful face.
I was looking on her
with great love as I stepped away,
when I heard myself say:
Idiot, what are you doing?
A lost opportunity is never regained.
So, I inclined myself softy thus,
and kissed her face,
and tasted the sweetness of paradise.