8PM, Jan. 30th 2015
Fr. Madden Auditorium, Carr Hall,
100 St Joseph St.
St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto
THE CURE OF RELIGIOUS MELANCHOLY
Robert Burton published his treatise Anatomy of Melancholy in the last years of the reign of James I, when religious melancholy was a real problem among the ‘Godly’ (pejoratively called ‘puritans’). Burton puts religious melancholy in the section of his book on love melancholy, but in the section on cures, he tells us that melancholy can be rectified by ‘Music of all sorts aptly applied’. We combine John Dowland’s Lachrimæ or seaven teares figured in seaven passionate pavans for violins and lute with lute airs from his songbooks, consort songs and his psalm settings for the death of his friend Sir Henry Noel.
For Orpheus’ lute was strung with poets’ sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Make tigers tame and huge leviathans
Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 3: Sc. 2
We still call poems sung to guitars and electronic keyboards lyrics, though the lyre is not often heard in the mp3 format, or even in the modern concert hall. It wasn’t even heard in the chamber music of the Renaissance and Baroque, though they, like the Ancient Greeks they imitated, thought unsung lyric poetry wholly inadequate. For them the lute was the instrument that best accompanied what was a golden age of poetry. Hear music you will hear nowhere else in The Musicians In Ordinary’s 2014-2015 seasons at the Heliconian Hall and at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.