Harmonia Early Music

Traditions Series: Dancing

This week, the Traditions Series explores dancing from medieval Italy to 18th-century Scotland, as well as a new release of music by Hieronymous Praetorius.

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party with dancing couple

Photo: Nicolas Lancret

A French baroque painting by Nicolas Lancret featuring the dancer Marie Anne de Cupis de Camargo, known in her day as "La Camargo." (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

If we look at medieval European culture, we discover that they held dancing in just as high a regard as we do today in Western culture. People then had their favorite dances and music to accompany them.

Dance music in the late-Renaissance flourished throughout Europe with the help of music publishing. The public’s ravenous demands were met with collections of dances that could easily be played and danced to at home. One such collection was Peter Phalese’s “Premier Livre de Danseries” of 1571, which contained some of the most popular dances of the period – including many of the top ten hits making their way around Europe.

Today’s ballet owes much of its existence to Louis XIV and Jean-Baptiste Lully. The king, who was an avid dancer, founded the first dance school known as the Académie Royale de la Danse. Lully, the most prominent of Louis XIV’s composers, was also a dancer who shaped the direction of French dance for decades following the Academy’s establishment. Modern ballet’s five basic dance positions come from this period.

Some of the most interesting music for dancing comes from 18th-century Scotland. Particularly memorable were the country dances which include the jig, the reel, the strathspey, and the waltz; all of which are danced to by mixed couples. Many of today’s country dance tunes find their origins in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our new release of the week comes to us from the CPO label. Entilted “San Marco in Hamburg”, the program features the choral motets of Hieronymous Praetorius as performed by Weser-Renaissance Bremen under the direction of Manfred Cordes.

Here’s a video of the “Dance of the Zephyrs” from Lully’s opera “Atys” with Les Arts Florissants (William Christie, dir.).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIknw-M0p1g

The music heard in this episode was performed by Sinfonye, Café Zimmermann, and Concerto Caledonia.

Music Heard On This Episode

Hieronymous Praetorius: Nunc dimittis servum Magi
Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes — San Marco in Hamburg (CPO , 2008)
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Hieronymous Praetorius: Nunc dimittis servum Magi
Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes — San Marco in Hamburg (CPO , 2008)
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Traditional: Chominciamento di gioia
Sinfonye (Stevie Wishart, Jim Denley, and Pedro Estevan) — Red Iris (GLOSSA , 1997)
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Traditional: Salterello
Sinfonye (Stevie Wishart, Jim Denley, and Pedro Estevan) — Red Iris (GLOSSA , 1997)
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Petrus Phalesius: Pavane-Gaillarde Ferrareze
An ensemble of winds and strings — Premier Livre de Danseries, Leuven 1571 (Passacaille , 2007)
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Petrus Phalesius: Passomezo La doulce/La reprinse
An ensemble of winds and strings — Premier Livre de Danseries, Leuven 1571 (Passacaille , 2007)
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Petrus Phalesius: 2.bransle [de Champaigne]
An ensemble of winds and strings — Premier Livre de Danseries, Leuven 1571 (Passacaille , 2007)
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Petrus Phalesius: Pavane-Gaillarde sur La bataille
An ensemble of winds and strings — Premier Livre de Danseries, Leuven 1571 (Passacaille , 2007)
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Jean Baptiste Lully: Petit air pour les mesmes
Café Zimmermann/Pablo Valenti — Works for harpsichord and pieces after Lully (Alpha , 2005)
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Jean Baptiste Lully: Sarabande Dieux des Enfers
Café Zimmermann/Pablo Valenti — Works for harpsichord and pieces after Lully (Alpha , 2005)
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Jean Baptiste Lully: Chaconne de Phaeton
Café Zimmermann/Pablo Valenti — Works for harpsichord and pieces after Lully (Alpha , 2005)
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Robert Mackintosh: Gavott
Concerto Caledonia/David McGuiness — Red Red Rose: Songs and tunes from 18th century Scotland (Delphian , 2004)
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Robert Mackintosh: Air – Allegro
Concerto Caledonia/David McGuiness — Red Red Rose: Songs and tunes from 18th century Scotland (Delphian , 2004)
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Robert Mackintosh: Miss Burnett of Monboddo’s Reel
Concerto Caledonia/David McGuiness — Red Red Rose: Songs and tunes from 18th century Scotland (Delphian , 2004)
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Robert Mackintosh: Mrs Richard Walpole’s Reel
Concerto Caledonia/David McGuiness — Red Red Rose: Songs and tunes from 18th century Scotland (Delphian , 2004)
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Hieronymous Praetorius: Adesto unus Deus
Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes — San Marco in Hamburg (CPO , 2008)
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Hieronymous Praetorius: Jubilate Deo omnis terra
Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes — San Marco in Hamburg (CPO , 2008)
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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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