Music Of The Stuarts

The Stuart dynasty ruled in Scotland from 1371 to 1603, and as a result James IV's marriage to Margaret Tudor, Henry the VIII's older sister, in 1503, were the natural monarchical choice to succeed Queen Elizabeth I on her death i 1603, as rulers ofthe two kingdoms. Although the removal of the Scottish Royal Court from Edinburgh to London resulted in a serious loss of local patronage in Scotland, the Stuarts were patrons of all the arts throughout their period in England, especially music.

The number of musicians, both performers and composers, who benefited from this support is large and the quality of music they produced, universally acknowledged as high. Interestingly, and it is a distinguishing feature of the Stuarts, while art music flourished under their aegis, they are also remembered in a surprising number of folk songs and tunes. THe Jacobite corpus itself is large, and a little research reveals there were many Royalist songs. Indeed subsequent to the restoration in 1660, a book of loyalist songs, "The Loyal Garland, containing Choice Songs and Sonnets of our late Revolution", was published in 1671 in London and went through a number of later editions.

In making this recording, it was clear from the outset that an anthology was not possible. Perhaps a dozen CD's could reasonably address the enormous range of musical types, vocal and instrumental, that would be required. Additionally, although the guitar family is suitable for certain types of older music, because of its inability to sustain notes (unlike members of the string or wind families) music requiring this characteristic has to be excluded. In a single recording, the most that can be achieved is a modest sampling that indicates something of the character of a particular court period. Thus, many composers have, regrettably, been excluded in order to gain historical coverage.

Historical coverage begins with the Scottish Royal Court in the sixteenth century, extends to James II/VII, then to the court in exile and the end of the Jacobite era. It thus omits the reigns of William and Mary, and Queen Anne. While these reigns were by persons of undoubted Stuart lineage, in the minds of those of Jacobite persuasion, there was a question of their legitimacy as sovereigns. Jacobites (from the latin 'Jacobus' = James) saw legitimate succession as passing through James II/VII to his son, James Francis, born 1688, later known as James III/VIII to adherents of the Stuart cause, the 'Old Pretender' to supporters of the Whig government in the eighteenth century.

 

 


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