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Saturday morning quotes 3.32: Hints from history

December 21, 2013

hourglass“The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”

– Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527)

Distracted by events of the season, very few readers are likely to have noticed that this month marks the 500th anniversary of Machiavelli’s De principatibus—or at least he claimed to have written the first eleven chapters in December 1513.  Of more pertinent interest is Machiavelli’s description of his method of dipping into history on a daily basis, characterizing his ritual of reading as an intelligent discourse with great minds of the past:

“On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day’s clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and courtly, and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient courts of men, where, received by them with affection, I feed on that food which only is mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their kingdoms answer me; and for four hours of time I do not feel boredom, I forget every trouble, I do not dread poverty, I am not frightened by death; entirely I give myself over to them.”

– Machiavelli, from a letter to Francesco Vettori (1474 – 1539), December 1513

We read books.  And with the information gleaned from examples shared  by the many great minds of the past who have impelled their fingers to write down worthwhile thoughts and experiences, we create.  Today, the captains of the digital realm refer to us as content creators.  As such, we are a dying breed, but we persist in maintaining a sense of decorum and a spirit of sharing.

To that end, we share a short keyboard piece by Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695), the Prelude from the Suite No.6 in D (Z. 667) found in A Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord or Spinnet (1696) and arranged for lute by Ron Andrico.

Purcell’s keyboard suites were compiled and published posthumously in 1696 by Henry Playford for the benefit of Purcell’s widow, Frances. Playford published a great deal of Purcell’s vocal music in settings for voice(s) and lightly figured bass, with the theorbo-lute indicated as an alternative choice to keyboard for accompaniments. This prelude suits the lute well with its characteristic arpeggiation, and may perhaps work to even better advantage due to the lute’s ability to lend clearer separation to the treble and bass.

You can hear a recording of the piece here, and lutenists can download a pdf of the lute arrangement here.  Happy Christmas.

And, by the way, don’t forget to visit our page outlining projects for 2014.

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One Comment
  1. Erika permalink

    I look forward to Unquiet Thoughts every weekend, thank you for posting. Best wishes for a safe and happy Christmas and a good New Year.

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