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THE QUEEN’S DELIGHT – LES VOIX HUMAINES GAMBA CONSORT
Friday July 31, 2015 | 7:30pm
Michael Taylor, countertenor; Les Voix Humaines; Susie Napper, viol; Margaret Little, viol; Mélisande Corriveau, viols & recorders; Gregoire Jeay, recorders, renaissance flute & percussion; Nigel North, lutes; Sylvain Bergeron, lutes
Pre-concert chat at 6:45 PM with Susie Napper, Nigel North, and Matthew White
A musical drama written by the brilliant, eccentric fop, gamba player, composer, mercenary soldier, and model for Shakespeare’s Sir Andrew Aiguecheak in Twelfth night, the inimitable Tobias Hume!
The Queen’s Delight
Music by Tobias Hume (1580-1645)
A French Almaine (The Duke of Lenox delight)
The Earle of Mountgomeries delight (The Lady Susies favoret)
An Almayne (The Lady Canes delight)
Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens (Nigel)
Cease leaden slumber (The Queenes New-yeares gift)
Musickes Delight (The Earle of Southamptons favoret)
My joyes are comming (The Lady of Bedfords delight)
My hope is revived (The Lady of Suffolkes delight)
My joyes are comming (The Lady of Bedfords delight)
The Hunting Song
The Pashion of Musicke (Sir Christopher Hattons choice)
What greater griefe
The virgins muse (The Lady Arbellaes favoret)
The King of Denmarkes health (The Lady Margarets delight)
A Masque (The Earle of Sussex delight)
A Spanish humor (The Lord Hayes favoret)
The Souldiers Song
A Souldiers March
CAPTAIN TOBIAS HUME, SIR ANDREW AIGUECHEEK or a FOP?
I Doe not studie Eloquence, or profess Musicke, although I doe love Sence, and affect Harmony: my Profession being, as my Education hath beene, Armes, the onely effeminate part of me, hath beene Musicke; which in mee hath beene always Generous, because never Mercenarie. To prayse Musicke, were to say, the Sunne is bright.
Tobias Hume is one of the most colourful characters in the musical lexicon! Born in the 1580s, brilliant viol player and composer, Tobias Hume was a mercenary soldier by trade. He was a sometime officer in the King of Sweden’s army and otherwise leader of the troops of the Russian Emperor in various religious and political conflicts. In old age, he even offered his military services to Parliament promising to crush the raging Irish Rebellion, in his True Petition of Colonel Hume, with a hundred “instruments of war” or, if provided with the complete navy, to bring the king a fortune within three months!
Even in his musical life “which in mee hath beene alwayes Generous, because never Mercenarie”, Hume was in a philosophical battle with John Dowland who felt compelled to write a rebuttal in defence of the lute over the ever-more-fashionable viol.
Hume’s two volumes, The First Part of Ayres (or Musicall Humors, 1605) and Captain Humes Poeticall Musicke (1607), include: “Ayres, French, Pollish, and others together, some in Tablature (like lute notation) and some in Pricke-Song (classic notation)…With Pavines, Galliards, and Almaines for the Viole De Gambo alone, and other Musicall Conceites for two Base Viols, expressing five partes, with pleasant reportes one from the other and for two Leero Viols, and also for the Leero Viole with two Treble Viols or two with one Treble. Lastly for the Leero Viole to play alone, and some Songes to be sung to the Viole, with the Lute, or better with the Viole alone Also an Invention for two to play upon one Viole.”
Eccentricities and exceptional creativity abound in these volumes including what is perhaps the first ever mention of the use of col legno or “drum this with the backe of your bow”! The pieces span the panoply of emotions from the most tender, touching music ever written for the viol to fabulously funny musical humours in which word-painting flourishes! Hume’s compositions were to be the catalyst that determined the predominance of the viol over the lute in England.
It is quite possible that Tobias Hume was the model for Shakespeare’s character, Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night. Sir Andrew, a fashionable, feeble fop, played the “viol de Gambo”, “spoke three or four Languages word for word without book”, sang the wildest canons, drank heavily, swore like a sailor, and dressed to kill! How accurate a portrait of Hume this is we’ll never know!
Even having moved, in old age, to the Charterhouse, Westminster, an establishment to provide shelter for distressed gentlemen “such as had been servants to the King’s Majestie or could bring good testimony of their good behaviour and soundness in religion.” Hume found life hard. He complained to Parliament: “I do humbly intreat to know why your Lordships do slight me, as if I were a fool or an Ass…I have pawned all my best clothes, and have now no good garment to wear…I have not one penny to help me at this time to buy me bread, so that I am like to be starved for want of meat and drink, and did walk into the fields lately to gather Snails in the netles, and brought a bag of them
home to eat, and do now feed on them for want of other meat, to the great shame of this land and those that do not help me… .”
Hume died three years later on April 16th 1645, in the poor house. Fortune was unkind to our hero both personally and musically, but Time has blessed him with worldwide admiration for his musical creativity and sensitivity!