Motets and Monarchy: The Politics of Early English Music Printing

The politics behind Vautrollier’s Recueil du mellage d’Orlande de Lassus (1570), and Byrd and Tallis’s Cantionae Sacrae (1575)

In 1570 Thomas Vautrollier printed his Recueil du mellange d’Orlande de LassusOrlando_di_Lasso, a collection of Lassus’s chansons. It was only the second music publication to be printed in England (aside from psalm books) and it had been forty years since the last one (known as the ‘Twenty Songs’  and published 1530, though only the bass partbook and a few fragments survive).

Vautrollier was a Huguenot seeking refuge from religious persecution in France. He saw Elizabeth’s England as the fulfilment of the ideal of concordia discors (harmony of discords) in its religious tolerance, and even dedicated his print to the Earl of Arundel, a musical patron with Catholic sympathies. Praising the ‘admirable beauty of the harmony’ in states that temper the ‘unified diversity of their various parts’, Vautrollier compared Elizabeth’s England to a musical motet in which ‘thanks to the leading of one part, all others hold to a similar measure’, making no discord despite their differences. Elizabeth is the leading part that keeps all the estate and religious faction in harmony. To Vautrollier, Elizabeth’s kingdom was an example to other nations of how a diversity of peoples can be skilfully governed to produce a stable and secure society.

Continue reading

Advertisements