Friday, March 9, 2012

We spent the week sorting out repertoire for the next concert 'Sero sed Serio', music from the life of Sir Robert Cecil, who became Earl of Salisbury under James I. (8 PM, Mar. 17th at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. Toronto). 

There'll be some settings by John Dowland of poems by the ill fated Earl of Essex, who was locked in political conflict with Cecil. There'll be a song-cycle by Dowland where he uses the latest Italian mannerisms he no doubt picked up during the trip discussed in the letter to Cecil below. Above is Dowland's dedication to Cecil from a translation the composer made of a book of music theory.  

There'll be the only surviving song by Robert Hales a singer 'in whose voice she (the queen, that is) took some pleasure'. Cecil had set some of his own verse to flatter the queen - could the anonymous words to this song be Cecil's?

There'll be the only surviving song and some lute pieces by Anthony Holborne, who worked for Cecil as a lute player. One quotes the 'Lachrimae' theme, as does Gibbons's Earl of Salisbury Pavan. 

There'll be a set of songs by Nicholas Lanier, who got his start as a singer for Cecil and went on to become The Master of the King's Musick under Charles I.  

There'll be some French airs de cour by Charles Tessier, who worked for Cecil when he came to England looking for a good doctor. 

And there'll be a song on the Gunpowder Plot by Thomas Campion. Written a couple of years after Cecil's death, it credits the revealing of the plot to James himself 'and none other', not to the excellent spy network run by Cecil. Just shows that a politician's achievements get little credit even a couple of years after he's gone.  

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