Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, Age 13

Detail from a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I at Age 13, attributed to the
Elizabethan female court painter, Levina Teerlinc / (Teerling) (1510/1520-1576)

- - - - - - - - - -
Recommended CD Recordings

- - - - - - - - - -

Ann(e) Boleyn (1507?-1536)

Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1533-1603, patroness)

Detail from a sketch of Anne Boleyn by Hans Holbein, the
Younger (British Museum)

Anne Boleyn. "O Deathe, rock me asleepe," on CD titled "The Medieval Lady," performed by Elizabethan Conversation, Susan Sandman, Derwood Crocker, Andrea Folan, guest soprano. LEONARDA LE 340, 1997 (with free sound samples). The following from Leonarda:

"Anne Boleyn (1507-1536) was the second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. Her father attained a high position under the young Henry VIII and spent several years as Ambassador to France. Anne lived at the French court from age 12-16. We know she was trained in music and dancing, owned a virginals, (a keyboard instrument similar in sound to a harpsichord), and played the lute. She had an excellent reputation as a composer and performer. This song is said to have been written by her when she was in the Tower of London facing execution for treason, though her only crime was probably her failure to produce a male heir."

Anne Boleyn. Defiled Is My Name. By Robert Johnson, with lyrics attributed to Ann Boleyn. "Full Well She Sang: Women's Music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance," Toronto Consort. SRI005, 1993.

According to the notes, there are a couple of songs whose lyrics are thought to have been written by Anne Boleyn. One of these is "Defiled is My Name:" the music was composed by Robert Johnson who may have been chaplain to Anne Boleyn in her final days.

Anne Boleyn. "O Deathe, rock me asleepe," on CD titled "Women's Voices: five centuries of song," Neva Pilgrim, soprano; Edward Smith, harpsichord; Steven Heyman, piano. LEONARDA LE 338, 1997 (with free sound samples).

Anne Boleyn, "O deathe, rock me asleepe." "Historical Anthology of Music by Women" [With music by, Maddalena Casulana, Francesca Caccini, Isabella Leonarda, Anna Amalia Princess of Prussia, Elisabeth-claude Jacquet de La Guerre, Maria Grimani and others.] Compiled by James R. Briscoe, Indiana University Press, 1991, ISBN: 0-253-31268 X. Cassette.

For a biography, see "Anne Boleyn" by Marie Louise Bruce, London: Collins, 1972.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1533-1603, patroness)

William Byrd (1543-1623): "The Queen's Alman," MIDI soundfile © John Sankey

John Dowland (c.1563-1626), Queen Elizabeth's Galliarde, MIDI seq. © David E. Lovell

John Dowland (c.1563-1626), "Come again: Sweet love doth now invite," from the First Booke of Songes or Ayres, for choir SATB, [cantus, altus, tenor and bassus] (1597), MIDI soundfile © Dr. J. Curtis Clark
Elizabeth's Music CD Cover
Miniature by Henry Bone (early 19th c.), from the Ditchley Portrait
of Elizabeth I, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, 1592 when
Elizabeth was about 59 years of age.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Elizabeth's Music, by English Renaissance composers: William Byrd, Thomas Campion, Francis Cutting, John Dowland, Giles Farnaby, Matthew Holmes, Thomas Morley, Thomas Ravenscroft, Thomas Tomkins, along with anonymous English traditional music from Jane Pickering's Lutebook, My Lady Nevell's Book, and other sources, performed by the Baltimore Consort and Toronto Consort, Ronn McFarlane, Julianne Baird, and Frederick Urrey, Dorian, DOR 90015, 1999.

"[In childhood], Elizabeth was well-schooled in the arts. An excellent keyboard player, and a lover of dancing even in later life, she encouraged and carefully planned music for ceremonial occasions throughout her reign."

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. "Elizabethan Keyboard / Virginals Music," Sophie Yates, virginals. With music by William Byrd, Giles Farnaby, Orlando Gibbons, and others. Chandos ASIN: B00009AQMC, 2003 (with free sound samples).

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. On CD titled, "Renaissance Muse," 16th and early 17th century mostly English and Scottish Renaissance music (played exquisitely) by Deborah Friou on celtic harp. Talisman Recordings, TSN 411-CD, 1992. Listen to mp3 music sample:

      All in a Garden Green

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Academy of Ancient Music: Music from the Time of Elizabeth I, Christopher Hogwood, Director. L'oiseau-Lyre 433193-2, 1982.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Julian Bream Consort: Fantasies, Ayres and Dances - Elizabethan & Jacobean Consort Music, RCA Victor Red Seal 7801- 2 RC, 1988.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. The English Lute Song, Julianne Baird, soprano, Ronn MacFarlane, Lute, Dorian Recordings, 1988.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. The King's Noyse: CD titled "The Queen's Delight," (17th Century English Ballads & Dances), with music by William Byrd, Henry Stoning, John Baldwine, John Marchant and anonymous. Harmonia Mundi HMU 907180, 1996 (with free sound samples).

The arts always flourish during a time of peace. As a monarch Elizabeth I's (1533-1603) greatest contribution to the arts of England was to maintain a prosperous calm in the realm for more than two generations. Her patronage of music stemmed also from her courtly example as an able virginalist and lutenist, as well as an amatuer composer, singer and dancer. The diplomat Hurault de Masse informed King Henry IV in 1598:

"In her youth she danced very well and composed measures and music and had played them herself and danced them. She takes such pleasure in it that when her maids dance she follows the cadence with her hand and foot. She rebukes them if they do not dance to her liking and without a doubt she is mistress of the art, having learnt in the Italian manner to dance high."

The queen employed 50 singers in her choir and over 40 instrumentalists. William Byrd (1543-1623) was Gentleman of the Chapel Royal where Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) and John Bull (1562-1628) were organists. In addition both Christopher Tye (1505-1573) and Thomas Morley (1557-1602), who edited "The Triumph of Oriana," a collection of madrigals written in her honor, were Gentlemen of the Chapel. (See notes and CD on the The Triumph of Oriana by the King's Singers. See Christopher Hibbert, "The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age," Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1991, pp. 105-106).

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. A Handful of Pleasant Delites, Elizabethan Ballads and dances, Nancy Hadden, with Renaissance lutes, Erin Headley, viola de gamba, & Ensemble, ASV, 1997.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Royal Music From the Tower of London , Choral Music composed for the celebrations, coronations and private devotions of England's Kings and Queens from Henry VI to Charles I by Plainchant, William Cornysh, John Taverner, Robert White, and Thomas Tallis, ISIS Records, 1998.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Go from My Window," [English Renaissance] Music for the Virginal, by John Bull, William Byrd (Composer), Orlando Gibbons, William Lloyd Webber, Thomas Morley, Melchior Schildt, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, performed by Colin Tilney. Dorian DOR-10905, 1994.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. The Queen: Music for Elizabeth I, performed by the Toronto Consort, Marquis Music, 2009.

"This new recording features examples of a uniquely English combination of instruments called the 'mixed consort,' consisting of lute, bandora, cittern, viola da gamba, flute and violin with all the glorious music relating in some way to the remarkable monarch, Elizabeth I."

Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Elizabethan Ballads and Dances," by the ensemble named Circa 1500, directed by Nancy Hadden. Mhairi Lawson, soprano; Erin Headley, viola da gamba, fiddle; Steven Player, guitar, lute; Jacob Heringman, lute, cittern, viola da gamba; Vanessa Coode, viola da gamba; Lucy Carolan, harpsichord; Nancy Hadden, Renaissance flutes. CD GAU 163, 1997 (with free sound samples).

Of special mention on this recording is an anonymous Marian lullaby, sung in Gaelic, without accompaniment, by Mhairi Lawson:

Taladh Chriosta
(English translation)

My love, my dear my darling thou,
my treasure new, my gladness thou,
my comely, beauteous baby son thou,
unworthy I to tend thee.

O dear the eye that softly looks,
o dear the heart that fondly loves,
thou but a tender babe thou art,
the graces all grow up with thee.

Hosanna to the Son of David,
my King, my lord, my Savior!
Great my joy to be song-lulling thee,
blessed among the women I.

Elizabethan Music with drawings by Käthe Kollwitz
CD titled "Concordia: Crye" with music by Holborne, Tye, Sumarte, Hume, Stonings, Tallis, Johnson, Weekles & Lawes. Members of Concordia viol consort include Mark Levy, Joanna Levine, Catharine Finnis, Jonathan Manson & Emilia Benjamin, with Gary Cooper, virginals & organ. METRONOME MET CD 1020, 1997 (with free sound samples).

A fascinating combination here of melancholy Elizabethan viol music with seven woodcuts by Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), the German pacifist and World War I protest painter, with modern poetry by Glyn Maxwell.

Illustration: "Study for the Beggars" by Käthe Kollwitz, from Encarta 97, CD-ROM. According to Encarta: "German expressionist artist Käthe Kollwitz explored themes of inhumanity in her drawings, prints, and sculptures. Her works also frequently took the form of social protest, particularly against war. Kollwitz compassionately depicted poverty, working class life, and tragedy in works such as the charcoal drawing Study for the Beggars (1924)." Photo: THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE.

  • See the Kollwitz profile at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

  • Elizabeth I, Queen of England. "The Ladyes Delight" (Entertainment Music from Elizabethan England), The Baltimore Consort (Mary Anne Ballard, treble and bass viols; Mark Cudek, cittern, bass viol; Custer La Rue, soprano; Larry Lipkis, bass viol, soprano recorder; Ronn McFarlane, lute; Chris Norman, Renaissance flutes; William Simms, guest artist, bandora). Dorian 90252, 1998 (with free sound samples).

    Mary Anne Ballard begins the notes with a quote from "The Honorable Entertainment at Elvatham":

    The Fairy Queen and her maides danced about the garden, singing a Song of six parts, with the musik of an exquisite consort; wherein was the lute, bandora, base-viol, citterne, treble viol and flute.

    "The 'exquisite consort' which entertained Queen Elizabeth upon her visit to the Earl of Hertford in September 1591 was, in respect to the specific instruments employed, the exact equivalent of the Baltimore Consort. Combining the sultry viols, the ethereal flute, the 'sprightly and cheerful' cittern , the 'deep' bandora and the 'noble' lute, the ensemble is capable of many moods, from the joyful to the melancholy... The music itself is of the theater, the public entertainment, the ballroom, the masque, banquet- hall, and, to some extent, and as a by-product, amateur music-making in the finer houses of London and the countryside. Whether the tunes were originally for dancing, or ballad-singing, it is a mark of their quality that they could be made to fit the occasion..."

    Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Elizabethan viol music by the all-woman ensemble called "Isabella D'Este." CD Title: "Ayres Both Grave and Light, for Viols or Other Musical Instruments." With viol music by Anthony Holbourne (ca. 1565-1602), Thomas Simpson (1582-ca.1630), John Adison (16th c.). Ensemble includes Ariane Maurette, Caroline Howald, and Cecilia Knudsen, viola da gamba & flauti dolce; Lisette Milleret, Regina Haenni and Friedrike Daeublin, viola da gambas; Magali Dami and Cecile Roumy, flauti dolce; Christine-Gabrielle Madar, lute and mandolin, Shizuko Noiri, lute. Symphonia SY 93S22, 1994.

    Elizabeth I, Queen of England. "Songs to my Lady: English Songs and Lute Pieces," with music by Thomas Morley, Thomas Ford, William Byrd/William Shakespeare, John Dowland, Tobias Hume (also 3 pieces by Henry Purcell). Paul Esswood, countertenor & Jürgen Hübscher, lute and guitar. Harmonia Mundi, 1903012, 1991/1994.

    This CD also contains 5 Elizabethan folksongs with guitar including Barbara Allen, The Miller of Dee, The Three Ravens, Greensleeves and The Oak and the Ash, also known as A North Country Lass:

    A North Country Lass (Anonymous) Verses 1, 2 & 4

    A North-Country lass up to London did pass,
    Although with her nature it did not agree
    Which made her repent, and so often lament,
    Still wishing again in the North to be.

    "O the oak and the ash, and the bonny ivy-tree
    Do flourish at home in my own Countree.

    "The ewes and the lambs, with their kids and their dams,
    To see, in the country, how finely they play!
    The bells they do ring, and the birds they do sing,
    And the fields and the gardens so pleasant and gay!

    "O the oak and the ash, and the bonny ivy-tree
    Do flourish most bravely in our Countree.

    "Then farewell, my daddy and farewell my mammy!
    Until I do see you I nothing but mourn;
    Remembering my brothers, my sisters and others,
    In less than a year I hope to return;

    "O the oak and the ash, and the bonny ivy-tree
    Do flourish at home in my own Countree."

    Elizabeth I, Queen of England. CD titled "Play the Passionale," focusing on solo viol music, beginning with the Elizabethan Tobias Hume (1569-1645). (Hume's "The First Part of Ayres" (1605) was among the earliest published collections of unaccompanied viol music.) Sarah Cunningham, viol. (CD cover shows the famous portrait of the Baroque composer Barbara Strozzi, with viol and violin). Good liner notes by Cunningham. VIRGIN CLASSICS, VC-7-91451-2, 1991.

    Medieval & Renaissance Women Composers Recommended CDs
    Early Music & Ragtime Women Composers MIDI
    earlywomenmasters.net, a nonprofit, educational website
    formerly womensearlyart.net