Walter Bitner

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Monthly Archives: April 2019

“To Attain So Excellent A Science”: John Dowland, Part I

There is no known attributed portrait of John Dowland. This miniature of an unidentified subject, painted by Isaac Oliver (c1565-1617) now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was suggested as a possible likeness by Roger Traversac in The Lute Society’s PDF Colour Supplement to LUTE NEWS no. 116, December 2015. “Anno Domini 1590 . . . 27th year of his age” describes this man as the correct age for Dowland, who was born in 1563. (click images to enlarge)

The Lute Part XIV

…happy they that in hell
feel not the world’s despite.

~ John Dowland
Flow, my tears

The English musician John Dowland (1563 – 1626) is the central figure in the history of the lute. Composer, lutenist, songwriter, translator, publisher, traveler, academic – four centuries later, Dowland appears larger than life, and in many ways his dreams and accomplishments eclipse those of his contemporaries. Yet Dowland was very much a man of his own time, and his ideals and struggles reflected the concerns, crises, and aspirations of the Elizabethans even as his music expresses universals that resonate deeply with musicians and audiences today.

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Simone Molinaro

Title page, Simone Molinaro: Intavolatura di Liuto Libro Primo, Venezia 1599 (click images to enlarge)

The Lute Part XVII

Simone Molinaro (c 1570 – 1636) was the leading musician in Genoa when the Most Serene Republic was at its height of wealth and power. In the early decades of the seventeenth century, he served Genoa first as maestro di cappella at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, then as court musician and eventually maestro di cappella di Palazzo – the chapel of the ducal palace. Molinaro was the most prolific and highly esteemed composer in the Genoa Republic, and published many volumes of his own works as well as anthologies and collections of compositions by his contemporaries, including the first printing in score of Gesualdo’s five books of five- and six-voice madrigals.

In addition to being a composer and chapel master, Simone Molinaro was a lutenist, and in 1599 published one of the most highly esteemed volumes of music for the lute to appear during the Renaissance.

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