Musidora

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MUSIDORA. English, Air and Country Dance Tune (3/4 time). G Minor (D'Urfey): A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABC. The melody was composed around 1730 by Dr. William Croft (1678–1727), whose reputation is as a church composer. It appears in Thomas D'Urfey's Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. 1 (1719–1720, as "An Ode on Musidora, walking in the Spring-Garden. The Tune by Mr. Croft") and in John Watts' The Musical Miscellany, vol. 5 (London, 1731). Muisdora is Greek for 'gift of the muses'. Damon and Musidora were two lovers in James Thomson's poem "Summer" (there are two versions, one published in 1730 and a final one in 1746). One day Damon, concealed by rushes, spies the women he loves (but who has scorned him) swimming naked in a stream. In his 1746 version her bathing is a test of his fidelity and hence his love, and he "delicately" withdraws. Musidora is somehow touched by this and agrees to their eventual union. The Damon and Musidora story, as well as Thomson's poem, was frequently anthologized and illustrated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

D'Urfey's lyric goes:

Musidora, The Bather 'At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed'. William Etty, c. 1846.

Ah, how sweet are the cooling Breez,
And the blooming Trees,
When into his Bower Love guides Musidora,
When we meet there, the Nightingales sing pretty Tales,
Mistaking my Dear for the Goddess Aurora,
Jessamines and Roses,
A thousand pretty Poses,
The Summer's Queen discloses,
And strews as she walks.
Oh Venus, oh, how sweet are the cooling Breez,
And the blooming Trees,
When into his Bower Love guides Musidora,
Passion, Devotion, she gains with each Motion,
Lutes too, and Flutes too, are heard when she talks.
Oh Venus, oh, how sweet are the cooling Breez,
And the blooming Trees,
When into his Bower Love guides Musidora.


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 90. Baring-Gould (English Minstrelsie, vol. 4), 1896; pp. 80–83. D'Urfey (Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. 1), 1719; pp. 136–137.

Recorded sources:




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