Tuesday, January 4, 8563
John Dowland (1563-1626) - Allemande
John Dowland (1563-1626)
Fine Knacks for Ladies (1600)
Sir John Souch his Galliard
Earl of Essex Galliard
The King of Denmark's Galliard
Mrs. Nichols Almand
John Dowland (1563 – buried February 20, 1626) was an English composer, singer, and lutenist. He is known for his melancholy songs such as Come, Heavy Sleep (the basis for Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal),
Flow my Tears, I Saw my Lady Weepe, and In Darkness Let Me Dwell, and his instrumental music has undergone a major revival, particularly as a source of repertoire for classical guitarists in recent times.
It is generally thought that Dowland was born in London.
Dowland went to Paris in 1580 where he was in service to the ambassador to the French court. He became a Roman Catholic at this time, which he claimed led to his not being offered a post at Elizabeth I's Protestant court. However, his conversion was not publicized, and being Catholic did not prevent some other important musicians (such as William Byrd) from having a court career in England.
Dowland worked instead for many years at the court of Christian IV of Denmark. He returned to England in 1606 and in 1612 secured a post as one of James I's lutenists. There are no compositions dating from the moment of his royal appointment until his death in London in 1626. While the date of his burial is recorded, the exact date of his death is not known.
Most of Dowland's music is for his own instrument, the lute. It includes several books of solo lute works, lute songs (for one voice and lute), part-songs with lute accompaniment, and several pieces for viol consort with lute. The poet Richard Barnfield wrote that Dowland's "heavenly touch upon the lute doth ravish human sense."
One of his better known works is the lute song Flow my tears, the first verse of which runs:
Flow, my teares, fall from youre springs,
Exiled for ever, let mee mourn
Where night's black bird hir sad infamy sings,
There let mee live forlorn.
He later wrote what is probably his best known instrumental work, Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares, Figured in Seaven Passionate Pavans, a set of seven pieces for five viols and lute, each based on Flow my Tears. It became one of the best known pieces of consort music in his time.
His pavane, Lachrymae Antiquae, was also popular in the seventeenth century.
Dowland's music often displays the melancholia that was so fashionable in music at that time.
He wrote a consort piece with the punning title Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens (Always Dowland, Always Doleful), which may be said to sum up much of his work.
Dowland's song, Come Heavy Sleepe, the Image of True Death, was the inspiration for Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal after John Dowland for guitar, written in 1964 for the guitarist Julian Bream. This work consists of eight variations, all based on musical themes drawn from the song or its lute accompaniment, finally resolving into a guitar setting of the song itself.
Richard Barnfield, Dowland's contemporary, refers to the lutenist in poem VIII of The Passionate Pilgrim (1598):
If music and sweet poetry agree,
As they must needs, the sister and the brother,
Then must the love be great 'twixt thee and me,
Because thou lovest the one, and I the other.
Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
Upon the lute doth ravish human sense;
Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such
As, passing all conceit, needs no defence.
Thou lovest to hear the sweet melodious sound
That Phoebus' lute, the queen of music, makes;
And I in deep delight am chiefly drown'd
When as himself to singing he betakes.
One god is god of both, as poets feign;
One knight loves both, and both in thee remain.
Dowland's music became part of the repertoire of the early music revival with Christopher Hogwood and David Munrow and the Early Music Consort in the late 1960's and later with the Academy of Ancient Music from the early 1970's.
In October 2006, Sting, who has been described as a fan of Dowland's, released an album featuring Dowland's songs titled Songs from the Labyrinth, on Deutsche Grammophon, in collaboration with Edin Karamazov on lute and archlute. They described their treatment of Dowland's work in a Great Performances appearance, saying that Dowland's music was the "skeleton" of their performances, but that the music "evolved" as they became more confident.
To give some idea of the tone and intrigues of life in late Elizabethan England, Sting also recites throughout the album portions of a 1593 letter written by Dowland to Sir Robert Cecil. The letter documents Dowland's travels to various points of Western Europe, then breaks into an abrupt denial of charges of treason whispered against Dowland by unknown persons. He most likely was suspected of this for traveling to the courts of various Catholic monarchs and accepting payment from them greater than what a musician of the time would normally have received for performing.
The science fiction author Philip K. Dick was a fan of Dowland's and his lute music is a recurring theme in Dick's fiction. Dick sometimes assumed the pen-name Jack Dowland. Dick also based the title of the novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said on one of Dowland's best-known compositions. In his novels, Dick envisioned a future America in which Dowland songs would be covered by a pop singer named Linda Fox (a thinly disguised proxy for Linda Ronstadt).
An allemande (also spelled allemanda, almain, or alman) (from the French word for "German") is one of the most popular instrumental dance forms in Baroque music, and a standard element of a suite. Originally, the allemande formed the first movement of the suite, before the courante, but, later, it was generally preceded by an introductory movement, such as a prelude.
The allemande originated in the 16th century (Renaissance) as a duple metre dance of moderate tempo, derived from dances supposed to be favoured in Germany at the time. No German dance instructions from this era survive, but 16th century French (Arbeau) and British (Inns of Court) dance manuals for the Almain do survive. In general the dancers formed a line of couples, extended their paired hands forward, and paraded back and forth the length of the room, walking three steps, then balancing on one foot; a livelier version used three springing steps and a hop.
French composers of the 17th century experimented with the allemande, shifting to quadruple meter and ranging more widely in tempo. The form of the allemande was used for the tombeau.
Other identifying features are its absence of syncopation, its combination of short motivic scraps into larger units, and its tonal and motivic contrasts. German composers like Froberger and Bach followed suit in their allemandes for keyboard instruments, although ensemble allemandes tended to stay in a more traditional form. Italian and English composers were more free with the allemande, writing in counterpoint and using a variety of tempi (Corelli wrote allemandes ranging from largo to presto).
Late in the 18th century, "allemande" came to be used for a new type of dance in triple meter; Weber's Douze allemande op. 4 of 1801 anticipates the waltz. Additionally some of the close embraces and turns of the original Allemande were carried over to Square Dance and Contra Dance, with the moves "Allemande left" and "Allemande right" (often spelled "Alamand"), in which couples hold hands and turn around each other.
[8566 Gesualdo / 8563 Dowland / 8561 Peri]