top of page
The Imagined Court
La cour imaginaire

Due to the catastrophic fire that burned down the Royal Castle - including its archives and library - in Stockholm in 1697, there is no music preserved from the Swedish court before the reign of Queen Christina. We have only mentions of performances of mainly Italian instrumental pieces and Flemish polyphony. This leaves a substantial void in the musical life of the Vasa court, the first Royal House to unify Sweden into the country we more or less know today. Gustav Vasa first took his seat at the Royal Castle of Tre Kronor in Stockholm after being elected King in 1523. From there he and his sons would make the Scandinavian peninsula into a serious player among the other royal houses of Europe during the 16th century. Music would have been an important part of courtly life at the time; we know that Gustav Vasa enjoyed playing the lute, and Erik XIV wrote madrigals on the blank pages of his books while incarcerated at Örbyhus castle. Most of what was played, however, would have been imported from Germany, the Flemish lowlands and Italy. We can only assume that the music brought back north would have been what was most played and most readily available to travelers and diplomats, although there are also indications that the Elizabethan court in London might have sent collections of music to Erik XIV, some time in the 1560's.

Inspired by this, The Imagined Court presents, with the warm sound of a three-part viol consort, a set of Swedish folk pieces and medieval ballads next to late medieval and early renaissance music from the Buxheim Codex, dances and diminutions by Vincenzos Ruffo and Galilei; chansons and motets by Josquin Desprez, Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois, English consort pieces by Thomas Tallis, and Thomas Preston, as well as villancicos by Bartomeu Careers and Francesco Guerrero.

With this sometimes meditative, sometimes high-spirited program we hope to give you an intimate glimpse of what might have been heard, from the devotional to the dansante, at the first Royal Court of Sweden.

Stockholm as painted in 1535 on the famous "Vädersolstavlan", displayed in the Stockholm Cathedral. The image depicts the appearance of sun dogs over the city and was commissioned by Olaus Petri, who helped Gustav Vasa introduce Protestantism in Sweden.
Live recording made in Brussels in September 2023
The Royal Castle of Tre Kronor in 1630. The castle would eventually be completely destroyed in the great fire of 1697.
bottom of page