(Fitzwilliam virginal Book)
English composers, were the first to write real harpsichord music. This virtouso keyboard style, was liberated from the organ style. This music, secular music, mostly variations on popular tunes, but also pavanas and galliards and other dance forms, probalby could flourish because of the instable religious situation in England at that time.
The virginal was a great favorite of the English monarchs. Elizabeth of York, Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth, played this instrument.
How oft, when thou, my music, music play´st
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway´st
the wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jack, that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which schould that harvest reap,
At the wood´s boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so t i c k l e d, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O´er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more bless´d than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me the lips to kiss
William Byrd (1542-1623) dominated the first generation English keyboard composers. His ability to compose superb choral music, earned him the title of the "English Palestrina". William Byrd was also the first great variation composer for keyboard. Unpreceded, took the form to a great art. No other European country as England, has so many old folks tunes. In the 16th century, many wonderful tune was composed and those tunes went abroad, for example to the Netherlands.
The carmans whistle is a composition with 7 variations and a conclusion which has the theme a little hidden in the middle voices, but gives the work a `grand finale` working.
ernst stolz virignal / harpsichord
netherlands (february 2008)