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The Lute in the Dutch Golden Age

The Lute in the Dutch Golden Age: Musical Culture in the Netherlands ca. 1580-1670

Jan W.J. Burgers
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  • Book Info
    The Lute in the Dutch Golden Age
    Book Description:

    Closely associated with the social elite, the lute occupied a central place in the culture of the Dutch Golden Age. In this first comprehensive study of the instrument's role in seventeenth-century Netherlands, Jan W. J. Burgers explores how it functioned as the universal means of solo music making, group performance, and accompaniment. He showcases famous and obscure musicians; lute music in books and manuscripts; lute makers and the international lute trade; and the instrument's place in Dutch literature and art of the period.Enhanced by beautiful illustrations, this study constitutes an important contribution to our knowledge about the lute and its Golden Age heyday.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1939-2
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

  1. CHAPTER 1 The Lute and Its Music in Europe
    (pp. 9-24)

    The lute plays an important part in European music history from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. An enormous repertoire for the instrument has come down to us, particularly from the period between 1500 and 1760. Nobody knows exactly how many works there once were, but a rough estimate would suggest approximately 48,000, mostly for solo lute. This is the total number of published and hand-written compositions; there are, however, a large number of copies of identical compositions, so the number of individual works is a great deal lower. On the other hand, a large part of the repertoire has...

  2. CHAPTER 2 Prelude: The Lute in the Netherlands before 1600
    (pp. 25-38)

    In the Netherlands we first find the lute mentioned in the Middle Ages. The earliest references to the instrument occur in the second half of the 14th century in the accounts of the various princely courts, in which we regularly read that money is withdrawn to pay visiting players or singers who have entertained the lord with their art. The concept of ‘art’ should be taken more widely than became customary later on. In 1396, for instance, we read ofenen man, die opter lute speelde ende een zwaert al spelende voer sijn voorhooft sette[a man who played on...

  3. CHAPTER 3 Music in the Dutch Republic
    (pp. 39-50)

    It helps to realise that the Dutch Golden Age, that period of political, economic and cultural blossoming in what is now called the Netherlands, roughly coincided with a war that dragged on for 80 years. In 1572, the towns in the provinces of Holland and Zeeland started an armed uprising against the lawful ruler, King Philip II of Spain, who had inherited the Burgundian Netherlands from his father, Charles V. The displeasure with the taxation Philip imposed, in particular, and the strict, inflexible attitude of the deeply devout Roman-Catholic King towards Protestant sympathisers with the faith of the Reformation, resulted...

  4. CHAPTER 4 Lutenists of the Golden Age, c.1580-1670
    (pp. 51-72)

    Joachim van den Hove was one of the Antwerp lutenists who left the city to seek refuge abroad. He finally ended up in the Dutch Republic where, along with Nicolaes Vallet, he became one of the most important lutenists. He published three handsome volumes of lute music:Floridain 1601,Delitiae musicaein 1612 andPraeludia testudinisin 1616. Some of his music has only been preserved in manuscripts.

    Joachim van den Hove was born in 1567 in Antwerp, where he was baptised in the main cathedral on 4 July of that year. He was probably spoon-fed music from day...

  5. CHAPTER 5 A Lutenist of Standing: Constantijn Huygens
    (pp. 73-88)

    One lutenist about whom we are well informed was not a professional musician, but he nevertheless played an important role in the musical life of the Dutch Republic in the Golden Age. That lutenist is Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687). Nowadays he is regarded as one of the greatest Dutch poets of the century, but he himself thought of his literary work as unimportant, merely a way to fill the idle hours. As a civil servant he played a major role in politics and in the administration of the Republic. He served three consecutive princes of Orange: Frederik Hendrik, William II and...

  6. CHAPTER 6 Lute Music
    (pp. 89-144)

    In the Golden Age the reputation of lutenists and other musicians would have been based mainly on their virtuosity, meaning both their skills as instrumentalists and their ability to improvise with convincing musicality. The practice of musicians was built largely around improvisation. At weddings and parties they would have played mainly dances, which were often based on a fixed harmonic pattern, or at least a fixed rhythmic outline, that provided musicians with an adequate framework for giving shape to musical ideas on the spot. In the case of aubades or private concerts, the repertoire may have consisted more of intabulations,...

  7. CHAPTER 7 Infrastructure: Lute Building and the Lute Trade
    (pp. 145-170)

    Wherever the lute is played by many people, all sorts of provisions are necessary to enable them to do so. At the most basic level, it must be possible to buy an instrument and the strings required for it. So this raises the question of how lutenists in the 17th century, both professionals and amateurs, came by their instruments and their strings. As is so often the case, our information is provided once again by the correspondence of Constantijn Huygens, along with archival sources.

    In the 17th century, just as today, there would in principle have been two ways of...

  8. CHAPTER 8 The Lute in the Arts of the Golden Age
    (pp. 171-208)

    The lute played a remarkable role in the literature and the visual arts of the 17th-century Dutch Republic. The instrument is mentioned again and again in literary texts, particularly in poems, and we see it frequently represented in paintings. The lute in the arts often had a metaphorical function; it was a symbol for something else. Behind the depicted or described world there is a moral message, which is sometimes easy and sometimes not so easy to interpret.

    In the literature of the Golden Age, the lute turns up regularly in the poetry of the major authors such as Pieter...

  9. CHAPTER 9 Postlude: The Lute in the Dutch Republic, 1670-1800
    (pp. 209-220)

    Although the rich flourishing of lute music in the Dutch Republic seems to have come to an end after 1630, at least if we go by the publications of the work of famous composers, the instrument certainly did not disappear altogether. The lute remained one of the most represented instruments in paintings and people kept on playing it. We know this from the correspondence of Constantijn Huygens, who remained enamoured with the instrument right up to his death in 1687. Many lutenists figure in his letters, most of them foreign, professional musicians, but also some Dutch amateurs. In 1670 Huygens...

    (pp. 221-226)

    The musical culture in the Dutch Golden Age (c.1580–1670) was, in the absence of large, institutional patrons such as churches and courts, a predominantly urban, middle-class phenomenon. The people who made music and employed professional musicians as performers, music teachers or composers were mainly the rulers and burghers of a town or city. The musical culture was a highly lively one: rich and poor, young and old, sang the folk tunes everybody knew and the thousands of songs that were current in published form. Many people played an instrument and the lute was a familiar object, especially in higher...

  11. INDEX OF NAMES OF PERSONS AND PLACES mentioned in the main text of the book
    (pp. 243-258)
  12. INDEX OF STILL EXISTING LUTE BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS mentioned in the main text of the book
    (pp. 259-260)