The Musical World of Don Quixote

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band

Program notes, photos, and video clips from the concerts on October 8th and 9th, 2016 at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA

We hope you enjoy this presentation, which includes samples of the Don Quixote texts from which we drew our inspiration, short program notes, photographs of the performers, and videos of some of the scenes from our concerts. [Joan Kimball, Bob Wiemken, Artistic Co-Directors, and Grant Herreid, Program Creator]
I. The Madness of Don Quixote
Madness is a central theme of Don Quixote, and so we began our program with a set including a Spanish song featuring Madness herself, from a French songbook published in Paris in 1614. “Yo soy la Locura” (I am Madness) was performed in a French court ballet featuring La Folie (Folly, or Madness). The character may have sung in Spanish because the popular song and dance form called folias originated in the Iberian Peninsula. There is a dearth of Spanish song publications from Spain itself, but several French books of airs de cour contain a few Spanish secular songs, reflecting a keen interest in Iberian musical culture at the French court in the time of Cervantes.
II. Don Quixote Becomes a Knight Errant
The anonymous three-part song “Cavallero de aventuras” extolls the virtues and deeds of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. By substituting “Quixote” for “Ignatius” and “La Mancha” for “Loyola,” we have made the song a suitable fanfare for the beginning of our knight's adventures. [Scroll to watch Cavallero de aventuras – Anonymous (early 17th c.)]
III. Don Quixote Prepares His Armor and His Steed
Another example of the vogue for Spanish song in France is a guitar book published by Luis de Briçeño in Paris in 1626. Briçeño taught the Spanish guitar to the French aristocracy, when the guitar outside Spain was considered to be a poor rustic relation of the sophisticated lute. His Metodo mui facilissimo (Very Easy Method Book) contains many of the earliest versions of Spanish popular song lyrics. Unfortunately, the lyrics in Briçeño's book were set down without melodies. He placed guitar chords over the words and included some ambiguous strumming patterns, but the melodies associated with these songs have to be gleaned or reconstructed from other sources. Briçeño's “El cavallo del marques” describes an animal reminiscent of Don Quixote's own knightly steed, his poor beast of burden recruited into knight errantry early in the book. In the novel’s preface, Cervantes penned an imaginary dialogue between Rocinante and the horse of the famous champion of Spain, El Cid. [Scroll to watch Steven Caldicott Wilson and Christopher Dylan Herbert perform the dialogue between Rocinante and El Cid, followed by El cavallo del marques – Anonymous (early 17th c.); adapted by Grant Herreid]
IV. The Knight Chooses His Lady
Every knight requires a noble lady to whom he pledges his chivalric service, and Don Quixote fixes on a peasant wench in his district, whom he dubs Dulcinea del Toboso. Throughout the novel he dedicates his adventures to her, and though he never actually meets her, he praises her beauty and her worth, as in the song by Francisco Guerrero, “Ojos garços ha la niña” (The girl has dark blue eyes).
V. Don Quixote Sallies Forth 
The jaunty rhythmic sonorities of Pedro Ruimonte's “De la piel de sus ovejas” evoke the swashbuckling excitement of our knight setting out on his first foray. In his interactions with wenches of ill-repute, innkeepers and swineherds, Don Quixote quotes a few different chivalric romances, for which music survives. We include the anonymous “No paséis el cavallero” and Briceño's version of the highly lascivious dance-song zarabanda" (eventually outlawed as immoral!) to evoke the sauciness of his entertainment at the inn. All compose the sweetest courtly music in the ears of our knight.  [Scroll to watch De la piel de sus ovejas – Pedro Ruimonte (1565-1627), No paséis el cavallero – Anonymous (late 16th c.), Romance de Lanzarote – Mateo Flecha (1481-1553), adapted Grant Herreid, Andalo Çarabanda – Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710), adapted Grant Herreid, and Con pavor recordo el moro – Luis de Milán (c. 1500-1561)]
VI. Don Quixote Sings in Helpless Discomfort and VII. The Priest Burns Don Quixote’s Books of Chivalry 
In this scene, after Don Quixote quotes from a popular Romance about a wounded warrior, Piffaro musicians reflect on his discomfort with a melancholy song. In scene VII, when Don Quixote's housekeeper implores the priest to sprinkle her master's house with holy water to rid it of evil spirits, the priest may have thought to intone the traditional antiphon “Asperges me,” presented here in a setting by Tomás Luis de Victoria (who exclusively wrote settings of sacred Latin texts as maestro in the convent of the Dowager Empress Maria).  [Scroll to watch Solo, triste u ausente – Anonymous (1625), Nell Snaidas’ recitation of the Housekeeper's speech, and Asperges me, Domine – Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611)]
VIII. Don Quixote Recruits a Peasant to Be His Squire 
A version of “Al villano se le dan” from Briceño's guitar book “Metodo mui facilissimo” invokes not only the rustic rudeness of Quixote's squire but also alludes to a peasant being flogged by cruel lashes – a punishment Sancho himself is threatened with in the novel. 
IX. Don Quixote Encounters a Gang of Galley Slaves 
Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza overtake a gang of prisoners condemned to row in the galleys. As the demand for rowers increased, rowing in the galleys became the punishment for more and more types of crime throughout the Mediterranean, and for crimes of lesser and lesser degree, until it was the most common punishment for anyone who was not a clergyman or a nobleman. The criminals in “Romance de los Presos de la Cárcel” (Ballad of the Prisoners in the Jail) serve time on a galley. Its popular refrain, “y alguno que canta cantando reniega (and he who sings, by singing curses himself),” is echoed in Cervantes' galley slave episode: the criminal who is called a 'canary' is scorned for 'singing' under torture. This romance survives without music, but it is certainly a jácara, a form of romance that dealt with the exploits of criminals and underworld thugs. Jácara derives from xaque or jaque, a term that means pimp (or sometimes ruffian). Jácara also refers to the robust music to which these ballads were sung and danced, characterized by strong rhythms and hemiola. [Scroll to watch Romance de los Presos de la Carcel after Santiago de Murcia (c. 1730) and Anonymous; arr. Grant Herreid]
X. Don Quixote Attends the Wedding of Camacho the Rich 
To begin the program’s second half, we imitated the musicians who entertain at a rich peasant's wedding celebration, playing "flutes, drums, psalteries, pipes, tabors, timbrels. . . and a Zamora bagpipe" for the dancers. [Scroll to watch Canarios – arr. Piffaro, after 17th c. sources]
XI. Don Quixote Quotes a Sonnet by Garcilaso 
There are several sonnets featured in Cervantes's novel, with no extant musical settings. But one sonnet is a parody by Cervantes of a sonnet by Garcilaso de la Vega, “Por ásperos caminos,” which survives in a musical setting by Alonzo Mudarra for voice and vihuela, and which reads in part, “I travel by rough paths, to where I cannot move for fear, and if I try to take one step, I am dragged back by the hair. But such is my state, with death at my side, that I seek new counsel from my life; I know the best, yet I approve the worst, either from erring custom or by my destiny.”
XII. Don Quixote Is Entertained by a Puppet Play of Moors and Christians 
There is a Moorish undertone to the genesis of Don Quixote: Cervantes claims that he discovered the story in a manuscript in the market in Toledo, written in Arabic by an Arab historian. He found a Morisco (a Moorish convert to Christianity) to translate it for him, without changing a single word. Of the two major episodes in the novel that involve Moorish characters, the puppet play of the knight Don Gaiferos has some musical references. There is no mention of Moorish music in Don Quixote, but if Cervantes had heard such music it may have sounded like the traditional Nuba from Andalucia. We present two settings of parts of the Romance de Gaiferos that have survived in Spanish 16th-century manuscripts. Pisador's “La mañana de San Juan” recounts a battle between Christians and Moors. [Scroll to watch La mañana de San Juan – Diego Pisador (1509/10-after 1557), Romance de Gaiferos – Anonymous (2nd half of 16th c.), and Kûrsi from Nuba Ghrib, traditional Andaluz (Algeria), arr. Tom Zajac]
XIII. Don Quixote Is Serenaded by Altisidora 
Don Quixote's aristocratic hosts encourage one of the ladies of the court, Altisidora, to have some fun with the knight by serenading him with a love song. Altisidora vents her passion for the knight outside Don Quixote's window, accompanied by a harp. But Don Quixote can serve no lady but Dulcinea del Toboso, as he replies in song the following evening, accompanying himself on the vihuela. These two serenades, Cervantes' creations, have no known musical settings; for our program we set them to old anonymous romance settings from the early 16th c. Later in the novel the hoax continues, as Don Quixote and Sancho are seated before the body of Altisidora, said to have died of heartbreak over his refusal to love her. An elaborate rite to bring her back to life is introduced by flutes or recorders and features a song, “En tanto que de rosa y açuçena,” the text of which parodies a sonnet by Garcilaso and that was set to music by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599).
XIV. Sancho Panza Appreciates Music 
While sitting in the woods at night with a duke and duchess, Don Quixote and his squire are surrounded by a fearful tumult of battle sounds. The dreadful clamor suddenly ceases, and a sweet melodious music is heard. Sancho Panza’s remark, "Señora, where there is music, there can be nothing bad," is among the most famous lines of the novel. [Scroll to watch Simile est regnum caelorum – Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)]
XV. The Death of Don Quixote 
Don Quixote returns home from his last adventure, and his sanity returns as well just before his end comes. He passes away without ceremony in his own bed, having made his will and renounced his former life of chivalry. His friend the priest presumably would have said mass for him; we give his soul a noble send off with Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Agnus Dei from Missa Defunctis (Mass of the Dead).  [Scroll to watch Conde Claros – Enrique de Valderrábano (c. 1500-after 1557), Da pacem Domine – Philippe Rogier (c. 1561-1596, and Agnus Dei – Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)].
Credits: Story

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band
Joan Kimball and Bob Wiemken, Artistic Co-directors
Musical program conceived and curated by Grant Herreid

Grant Herreid, vihuela, guitar, lute
Priscilla Herreid, shawm, dulcian, recorder, bagpipe, krumhorn
Greg Ingles, sackbut, recorder, krumhorn
Joan Kimball, shawm, dulcian, recorder, bagpipe, krumhorn
Christa Patton, harp, shawm, bagpipe
Bob Wiemken, dulcian, recorder, krumhorn

with guest singers:
New York Polyphony
Geoffrey Williams, counter-tenor
Christopher Dylan Herbert, tenor
Stephen Caldicott Wilson, baritone
Craig Phillips, bass

Nell Snaidas, soprano

and guest instrumentalists:
Josep Borras, dulcian
Erik Schmalz, sackbut, krumhorn
Glen Velez, percussion
Charles Weaver, vihuela, guitar, lute

Christopher Williams

Leland Kimball, stage director and supertitle creator
Adam Macks, lighting designer and production manager
Liz Nugent, stage manager

William DiCecca

videography and sound:
Front Row Seat Productions LLC
John C. Baker Recordings LLC

Google Gallery:
Sharon Torello

Support for "The Musical World of Don Quixote" has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

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NOTE: All text excerpts from the translation of Don Quixote by Edith Grossman (HarperCollins, 2003). Reprinted with permission. Code: DQ I, 1, 29: Don Quixote, Book I, Chapter 1, page 29

Credits: All media
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