Continental Connection

The Robert Dow partbooks
Sun 24.03.24

The Robert Dow partbooks


obert Dow’s beautiful set of 5 partbooks is a treasure trove for lovers of Byrd, White and Tallis. But did you know that these books also contain other musical treasures from the 1580s that were written abroad? They were brought to England, passed from hand to hand, and carefully entered into personal music collections. Apparently, the music of Philip van Wilder, Alfonso Ferrabosco and Orlando di Lasso must have appealed to Mr. Dow, who collected and preserved their songs along with those of their English counterparts. Trace the journey of the repertoire and discover the influence of foreign musicians at the English court and the music they brought with them.

Brigitte Gasser, Filipa Meneses, Tabea Schwartz – Renaissance gamba

Giovanna Baviera – Renaissance gamba, Gesang

Caroline Ritchie – Renaissance gamba; direction

Elizabeth Rumsey –  Concept


Eine von Dows lateinischen Inschriften: «Galli cantunt Itali caprizant Germani ululant Angli iubilant» (Die Franzosen singen, die Italiener meckern, die Deutschen heulen, die Engländer jauchzen.); Dow-Stimmbücher, Oxford, Christ Church, Mus. 986 (Contratenor), S. 50


Why I’ll be there 

David Fallows 

 In the age-old crackpot fantasies about William Shakespeare being just a pseudonym for somebody far grander (the favourite candidate these days is the Earl of Oxford), the main arguments are often that only a rich tourist could know all the places in Italy and France about which Shakespeare writes with such confidence. Well: a glance at the Dow partbooks gives a good answer to that. Alongside his beautiful copies of music by Byrd and his English contemporaries, Robert Dow included lots of music by non-English composers, some like Ferrabosco and van Wilder actually living in England but others who had no reason ever to visit England. The music reached England through a variety of channels, but the main point is that the music was known and appreciated. 

We obviously have to laugh at the ascription mistakes Dow made, crediting works by Verdelot and Maillard to Christopher Tye, and crediting works by Vincenzo Ruffo to a certain Francesco Mocheni (twice: who he? no idea). But all the same this concert gives a wonderful glimpse of what an educated Englishman knew and loved among the music of his overseas contemporaries. There’s obviously lots more copied by other English musicians of the time, among them John Baldwyn and Francis Tregian; but this is a side of English music that we rarely hear explored. 



The Bassanos

Homage to the recorder family
Sun 29.09.24 18:15 Concert

Historical Museum Basel


Magnum opus musicum 1604

Tribute to Orlando di Lasso
Sun 27.10.24 18:15 Concert



Du Fay 550

Music for a lifetime
Sun 24.11.24 18:15 Concert

Historisches Museum Basel


Now sing and rejoice

Sing-along Concert
Sun 29.12.24 17:45 Workshop 18:15 Concert