Mathilde Gomas

The King of Denmarkes Delight

55 minutes
2 bass viols – 1 voice
– 1 lute & theorbo

Once upon a time there was a king whose name was Frederick II and he ruled over the land of the Danes. His wife was Sophie of Mecklenburg and with her he had seven children. The first-born was a girl and was called Elisabeth, the second Anna. As the third child, the queen gave birth to the long longed-for heir to the throne, Christian.

The king, however, died when Christian was eleven years old, so the queen ruled the country until he came of age. And at the age of 18, he finally became king: Christian IV - This is not a fairy tale, by the way, but it happened around the year 1600 in Denmark.
Even for a Renaissance monarch, King Christian IV had an exceptionally wide range of interests. He was one of Europe’s most significant patrons of the arts, drawing renowned musicians, painters, and sculptors to his court. He was also highly interested in science, architecture, engineering, and trading, and invested in the infrastructure of his kingdom on a hitherto unprecedented scale. He founded new towns, trading companies and colonies, established manufactures, and mining in Norway, and pursued prestigious building projects, including representative buildings in Copenhagen and the castles of Rosenborg and Frederiksborg.
In England at that time there lived four men who were to go down in history as composers: Thomas Robinson, Daniel Norcombe, Tobias Hume and John Dowland.

At that time, the lute and the viola da gamba were the most popular instruments in England, and numerous instructional works and song collections were published for them. A dispute arose between Tobias Hume and John Dowland as to which of the two instruments was the more excellent. This dispute has been preserved because it was recorded in the prefaces of the printed works of both composers. Hume was of the opinion that the viola da gamba should be placed above the lute, while Dowland argued for the opposite.

Fortunately, we don't have to choose between the two instruments; in this program they both sound in reconciled friendship.

Text by S. Reidemeister

Image: Danish court musicians, detail from the title page of Melchior Borchgrevinck's "Giardino di nuovo bellissimo varii fiori musicali scieltissimi" (Copenhagen, 1605)