Welkom op de website van Camerata Trajectina. Een ogenblik geduld alstublieft...


Welcome at Camerata Trajectina's website. Please, wait a moment...

 

Dowland in Holland

Dutch songs on English tunes in the Dutch Golden Age

Much of the popular music of the Dutch Golden Age was imported from other countries, mostly from France, but also a remarkable amount from England. We’re talking here about how the Dutch youth in the seventeenth century sang their hot-off-the-press songs: Dutch texts set to English melodies. For Camerata Trajectina’s program in the Utrecht Early Music Festival 2015, I’ve researched this link in the case of that icon of Elizabethan music, John Dowland. A famous lutenist, his fantasies and pavanes have led many a twentieth-century guitarist to the lute. I’m one of those guitarists, and so I can claim that I keep company with the likes of Jan Akkerman and Sting.

Granted, the title of this CD, Dowland in Holland, also stems from wordplay with the man’s name. He himself used the phrase ‘Semper Dowland, semper dolens’ – ‘Always Dowland, always doleful’, thereby accentuating his trademark, a musical melancholy that still grabs us by the throat four centuries later. John Dowland (1562/3 - 1626) was not only a famous composer of lute music but also of ayres – songs with lute accompaniment. The First Booke of Songs and Ayres (London 1597) was his most popular publication; the ayre ‘Flow my teares’ from his Second Booke (1600) was his most popular song. That song was originally a pavan for the lute, named Lachrimae (‘Tears’), which in its second guise as a sung ayre was furnished with this tearful text:

  Flow, my teares, fall from your springs
  Exiled for ever, let mee morne;
  Where nights black bird hir sad infamy sings,
  There let mee live forlorne.   


This unfathomable grief plucked sensitive heart-strings in the Dutch Republic too. So for example the Dutch minister Dirck Rafaelszoon Camphuysen (1586-1627) ‘covered’ Dowland’s ‘Flow my teares’ with his own text, ‘Traen, oogen, traen’ (‘Weep, eyes, weep’), which amounts to the same thing, except that the cause of Camphuysen’s grief was no reluctant maiden (assuming that’s was Dowland’s problem was). Camphuysen never mourns amorous trifles but rather foolish human nature, inclined to sin. After Camphuysen’s ‘Traen, oogen, traen’ was published in 1624, other poets followed him, writing songs with similar openings: Jan Harmensz. Krul followed with the love-lament ‘Klaegh, oogen klaegh’ (‘Mourn, eyes, mourn’) in his Minnelycke Sangh-Rympies (1634); an anonymous poet in Arions Vingertuig (1645) with ‘Huil, borste, huil’ (‘Howl, breast, howl’), also a love-lament; Anthony Janssen in Christelijck Vermaeck (1645) with ‘Schrey, ziele, schrey’ (‘Cry, soul, cry’), a lament about the sinful soul, just as Camphuysen had done. Adriaen Valerius wrote a lament about the death of the French king Henry IV in his ‘Myn ziele treur!’ (‘My soul, mourn’, 1626).

When Camphuysen set ‘Traen, oogen, traen’ to Dowland’s ‘Flow my teares’, Dowland’s music had already been circulating in the Republic for some time already, in the form of lute solos. We find those in the printed tablature book Florida (1601) from the Leiden lutenist Joachim van den Hove and in the Thysius Lute Book, a manuscript begun in 1595 by the Leiden University student and later minister Adriaen Jorisz. Smout. Camphuysen was, however, the first Dutch writer to provide Dowland’s ‘Flow my teares’ with a new text. He was also first with other melodies of Dowland’s: for ‘Can she excuse my wrongs’ (The Earl of Essex Galliard) he wrote a song about the Last Judgment, for Piper’s Pavan he wrote the song ‘Van volmaeckte Regering’ (‘About Perfect Government’), for Frog Galliard (‘Now o now I needs must part’) he wrote the long song ‘Christelijck Gevecht’ (‘Christian Struggle’). For that last song, Camphuysen provided an alternative melody, probably of his own composition. For the sake of completeness Lady Laiton’s Almaine must also be mentioned, to which Camphuysen set his ‘Raedt tegen Toorn’ (‘Advice against Anger’). Camphuysen published all this in his collection Stichtelycke Rymen (1624), which, judging by the dozens of reprintings, found a warm welcome among the Protestant part of the population, warmer than that given to the poet himself, who thanks to his Remonstrant beliefs was continually persecuted. Camphuysen was remarkably careful with the text underlay to his musical notation; the original melodies he notated somewhat after his own fashion.

We find Dowland’s ayre ‘Come again’ not in Camphuysen but in the Nederlandtsche Gedenck-clanck (1626) of Adriaen Valerius, who wrote a lament over the execution of a Flemish Reformed martyress to this tune. Finally, an exceptional melody is that of ‘tweede Lacrymae’ (‘Second Lachyrmae’), in other words, the second of the seven Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares: a cycle of polyphonic settings of the Lachrimae melody for a consort of five violas da gamba, written by Dowland himself (1605). The Utrecht minister Jodocus van Lodenstein was, decades later, the only Dutchman to write a song text on this, as Treur-gesang over d’elende der Pied-montoysen ‘Reysig geselschap!’ (‘Sorrowful song about the miseries of the Piedmontoise, ‘Travelling companions!’).

Apparently another Dowland fan was the Utrecht carillonneur and recorder-player Jacob van Eyck. Of the seven Dowland melodies that worked their way into Dutch song culture, he published variations on four of them in his Der Fluyten Lust-hof (The Recorder’s Pleasure-Garden) (1649): ‘Pavaen Lachrymae’, ‘Comagain’ (Dowland’s ‘Come again: sweet love doth now invite’), ‘Excusemoy’(Dowland’s ‘Can she excuse my wrongs’) and ‘2. Courant, of Harte diefje waerom zoo stil’, which uses the tune of Dowland’s ayre ‘Now o now my needs must part’, also known as Frog Galliard.

The seven songs brought together here under the rubric ‘Dowland in Holland’ represent the broader phenomenon of the English influence on Dutch popular music in the Golden Age. This is summed up best in the case of Jan Janszoon Starter (1593-1626), the poet of the successful secular songbook, ‘t Friesche Lusthof (1621). Starter was born to English parents, grew up in Amsterdam, established himself as a bookseller in Friesland and introduced many English melodies into the Dutch Republic. One example is the tragic ballad ‘Twas a youthful knight’, to which Starter penned a lament for a young Frisian woman who had died: ‘Blydschap van mijn vliet’ (‘Joy flees from me’). The many dozens of tune-indications that later named this song testify to Starter’s good ear for a hit song. Starter used “Sir Edward Nouwels Delight’ for his lovely song ‘Silvester in de morgenstond, begaf hem op de jacht’ (Silvester set out hunting in the morning), and the pastoral love-lament “Com Sheapherdes deck your heds’ for the sad song ‘Lieflocksters van de min’ (Dear lures of love). These findings come from the Nederlandse Liederenbank (Dutch Song Database) of the Meertens Institute, in which this sort of information can be found with a couple of simple search parameters. In the case of some songs, of which ‘Com Sheapherdes deck your heds’ is one, the melody has not been preserved in a single English source, but only in Dutch songbooks such as Starter’s. With other songs, even the English text has not been preserved. Starter’s song ‘kHeb veel nachten lang gewaecket’ is probably a translation of the song ‘Y Have waked the Winters Nights’ that he names as a tune-indication, but the rest of the English text is lost.

Most of Starter’s melodies are in fact anonymous. Only for ‘My Mistris sings no other song’ is a composer known: Robert Jones, who published the song in four parts and with lute accompaniment in his First Booke of Songes or Ayres (1600). Starter set it to ‘Ick weet niet wat myn Vryster schort’, as saucy a song as the English original. That was probably also the case with ‘Is Bommelalire soo groote geneughd’, for which no English text has survived. Starter included these last two songs in a supplement to his Friesche Lusthof named ‘Boertigheden’ (Jocularities), and which are really just about only one thing: sex. This matches the tone of the sung farces or jigs with which English groups of comedians and musicians entertained the continent in the early decades of the seventeenth century. They crossed the North Sea to the Netherlands, the north of Germany, and Scandinavia. And we see something of that on this CD not only in Starter’s ‘Boertigheden’, but also in several of the German tune-indications that point to English ditties from the comic repertoire. These evidently hung on in Germany and from there ended up in Dutch songbooks: in the Friesche Lusthof ‘O myn Engeleyn, ô myn Teubeleyn’, known in England as The Hunt’s up, and in the Stichtelycke Rymen the tune-indication given as ‘Mein hert is betrubt biss in dem thodt’ with which Camphuysen closes his Christelijck Gevecht. Starter called that last melody the ‘Engelsche fa la la’.

It was not only comedians who came over from England to the continent. A fair number of musicians of English origin settled in the Republic, earning their bread giving lessons and performing at weddings and parties. Even as serious a musician as Dowland lived for some time at German princely courts and the Danish court of Christiaan IV, after failing to secure a position in Elizabeth’s court. Perhaps in his case there were political calculations involved, for Dowland, a Catholic, had mingled with anti-Elizabethan circles in Italy. Other Catholic musicians, such as the harpsichordists John Bull and Peter Philips, set out for the Southern Netherlands.

What is surprising is that almost nothing of Dowland can be found in Starter. Dowland’s melancholy song melodies seem to have made more of an impression in the Republic on Calvinist poet-preachers such as Camphuysen than on less serious, worldly poets like Starter. These two men were indeed polar opposites. They must have known about each other, possibly even known each other personally, since they lived in Harlingen at the same time. But they would not have valued each other’s work. Starter wrote nice, singable, musical texts, in which he closely follows the contours of the melody, often with copious use of rhyme, as befits the rhetorician that he was. Camphuysen on the other hand wanted to deliver poems that could be sung as easily as read, which is to say, read out loud. In his vision that meant a very regular alternation between accented and unaccented syllables, which did not always go very smoothly with the melody.

In addition of course the content of the two men’s songs came from diametrically opposed points of view. A vicious satire-song about Starter even appeared under Camphuysen’s name, in which Starter from his grave repents of the ribaldry with which he has corrupted the Dutch youth. The song appeared in 1647, twenty years after Camphuysen’s death. Some time later the actual poet revealed himself to be Christophorus van Langerack, also a Remonstrant pastor. But the damage was done: for the Protestant Netherlands, Starter would be considered a second-rate poet clear into the twentieth century, one who misused his modest talents for bad ends.

So far the English music discussed is that which ended up in Dutch popular culture: popular ballads and elegant ayres that became liedekens (songs of all sorts) for the song-hungry Dutch citizens. But a remarkable case of elite English music that reached the Dutch populace is a set of gamba consort pieces from the English court which were published in 1648 by the Amsterdammer Paulus Matthysz under the title Konincklycke Fantasien *). The amazing route these fantasies took from London to Amsterdam is described below in the footnote. They complete the brief glimpse that this CD gives of the strong influence that the rich music of England had on Dutch musical life at the dawn of the Golden Age.

Louis Peter Grijp.


*) Royal Fantasies (Amsterdam 1648)
In 1648 the Amsterdam music publisher Paulus Matthysz brought out a book of viola da gamba trios by English court composers like Thomas Lupo, John Coprario and Orlando Gibbons. They were originally written for the wedding of the English crown prince Charles to the Spanish princess Maria Anna. The wedding actually did not take place, because the negotiations, which Charles himself undertook in Spain, failed. On his return trip in 1623 he had the manuscript with the precious trios with him, but he gave them away in the course of a remarkable incident at sea. The result was that these trios came into the hands of Dutch sea captains, whom Charles hindered in their presecution of the Dunkirk pirates. These pirates captured Dutch ships on orders of the Spanish king, and actually Charles himself had nothing to do with it. So to prevent causing problems with the Republic, he treated the Dutch to a good meal and gave them gifts, including the music books. The books must have ended up via the Zeeland admiralty with Constantijn Huygens, secretary to the Dutch stadhouder (head of state), and then through his musical contacts delivered to the music publisher Paulus Matthysz. He published them under the title Konincklycke Fantasien, om op 3 fioolen de gamba en ander speel-tuigh te gebruycken (Royal Fantasies, to use on three violas da gamba and other instruments). In this remarkable way, reconstructed (as far as could be done) by musicologist Rudolf Rasch, this artful English music, composed to tickle princely ears, spread among the Dutch middle class as domestic music.

translation: Ruth van Baak Griffioen

close