Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Early Music First Love


David Munrow and his Early Music Consort was a key driving force in the rediscovery of early music in the United Kingdom (and further a field) in the 1960s and 70s.

It was his records that I purchased first when at university I found myself studying next to the Wigmore Hall in London and attending early music concerts.

I bought his 'Music of the Crusades' recently (on CD) and was listening to it on the way to the office this morning. How extraordinarily precise can audio memory be - I had not heard this collection for more than a decade but could anticipate each new track. The joy of medieval music is its capacity to be wholly reverent and irreverent at the same time. A four part song can be three part reverential, fourth part subversively bawdy and yet you sense both are meant. There is a time and place for both dispensations (and they can live side by side). It is a living reproof to fundamentalism (and Puritanism).

Tragically Munrow, in a time of dark depression following the death of his father, committed suicide at the tender age of thirty four. It was a deep loss to music: you can only imagine how his voyage of rediscovery would have developed and deepened in time.

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