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Melancholia: John Dowland’s Seven Lachrimae Pavans

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Date: 28 September, 2014
Time: 2:00-3:00pm
Venue: UQ Art Museum, Level 3 Gallery

Free, all welcome. RSVP by 24 September
Email: uqche@uq.edu.au
Phone: (07) 3365-3046

The Badinerie Players, on original instruments of the baroque period:
Wayne Brennan, Chen Yang, violins; Nicholas Tomkin, Raquel Bastos, violas; Michael O’Loghlin, viola da gamba; Joseph Meyers, lute and theorbo.

This performance accompanies “Five Centuries of Melancholia”, an exhibition which explores melancholy in art, to mark the 500th Anniversary of Dürer’s Melencholia I (1514), curated by Dr Andrea Bubenik.

Jusepe Ribera (c.1591-1652), The poet c.1620-1621.Etching on paper. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. David Murray Bequest Fund, 1962.


Why is it that we are often more moved by sad than happy music? The theme of bittersweet tears, pleasurable pain, or relishing in our misery runs through the culture of the early modern period. In collaboration with the UQ Art Museum’s exhibition, “Five Centuries of Melancholia,” the Badinerie Players present a programme of beautifully melancholic music from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The centrepiece of the programme is a rare performance of the seven “Lachrimae” pavans by history’s most famously melancholic composer, John Dowland (1563–1626). Lasting about half an hour, these remarkable works create an atmosphere of calm, resigned sadness. They are all based on the same simple four-note theme from Dowland’s song, “Flow my tears,” but each pavan has a subtly different flavour.

The concert will also feature older music written around 1514, the date of Dürer’s magnificent print, “Melancholia,” which is featured in the exhibition. An important Baroque genre, the tombeau, or funeral music, will also be represented in the programme. Tombeaux often have images such as funeral bells, sighs, gasps of pain, and images of falling tears or the crossing of the Styx, but they also have joyous passages which represent the bliss of the Elysian fields.