- John Jenkins (composer)
John Jenkins (1592 – 1678), English composer, was born in
Maidstone, Kent, and died at Kimberley, Norfolk.
Little is known of his early life. The son of Henry Jenkins, a carpenter who occasionally made musical instruments, he may have been the "Jack Jenkins" employed in the household of
Anne, Countess of Warwickin 1603. The first positive historical record of Jenkins is amongst the musicians who performed the Masque"The Triumph of Peace" in 1634 at the court of King Charles I.
English Civil Warthat broke out in 1642 forced Jenkins, as it did many others, to migrate to the rural countryside. During the dark days of the 1640s he was employed as music-master to two Royalist families, the Derhamsat West Derhamand Harmon L'Estrangeof Hunstanton. He was a friend of the composer William Lawes(1602-1645), who was shot and died in battle at the siege of Chester.
Around 1640 Jenkins revived the "
In Nomine", an archaic form for consort of viols, based upon a traditional plainsongtheme. He wrote a notable piece of programme musicconsisting of a pavaneand galliarddepicting the clash of opposing sides, the mourning for the dead and the celebration of victory after the siege of Newark (1646).
In the 1650s Jenkins became resident music-master of
Lord Dudley Northin Cambridgeshire, whose son Roger wrote his biography. It was in these years, during the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, in the absence of much competition or organised music-making, that Jenkins took the occasion to write more than 70 suites for amateur household players.
Jenkins played the
luteand was a virtuoso upon the lyra viol. After the Restoration he obtained a place as a musician to the Royal Court. The aged Jenkins played the lyra viol for King Charles II, who wryly complimented him that he did "wonders on an inconsiderable instrument". Roger North wrote:
:"Tho' he for many years was incapable to attend, the Court musicians had so much value for him, that advantage was not taken, but he received his salary as they were paid".
Jenkins retired under the patronage of
Sir Philip Wodehouseof Kimberley, where he met Sir Thomas Browne. Although the musicologist Wilfred Mellersclaimed that J.S. Bach's Orchestral Suites No. 3 and No. 4 in D major (BWV 1068-69) recalled the sensibility of Sir Thomas Browne, Jenkins's music is much closer historically to an aural representation of the sensibility of this physician-philosopher.
Something of Jenkins's own temperament is indicated by his setting the religious poetry of
George Herbertto music. Like Haydn, he was a pious, reticent, and private person. Workmanlike and industrious in composition, he wrote dances "by the cart-load"," according to North.
Jenkins was a long-active and prolific composer whose many years of life, spanning the time from
William Byrdto Henry Purcell, witnessed great changes in English music. He is noted for developing the consort fantasiafor viols, being influenced in the 1630s by an earlier generation of English composers including Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, Thomas Lupo, John Coprarioand Orlando Gibbons. Jenkins composed numerous 4, 5, and 6 part Fantasias for viol consort, Almans, Courants and Pavanes, and he breathed new life into the antiquated form of the "In Nomine". He was less experimental than his friend William Lawes; indeed, Jenkins's music was more conservative than that of many of his contemporaries. It is characterised by a sensuous lyricism, highly skilled craftsmanship, and an original usage of tonality and counterpoint.
His biographer North wrote of him:
:"he was certainly a happy person,....of an easy temper, superior in his profession, well accepted by all, knew no want, saw himself outrun by the world, and having lived a good Christian, died in peace".
Jenkins is buried in the nave of St. Peter's church, Kimberley,
Norfolk, with this inscription: ::Under this Stone Rare Jenkins lie::The Master of the Musick Art::Whom from the Earth the God on High::Called up to Him to bear his part.::Aged eighty six October twenty seven::In anno seventy eight he went to Heaven.::In God We Trust.
*Scholes, Percy (1995). "Oxford Companion to Music" (10th edn.). OUP.
*"Fantazia":Ensemble Jérôme Hantaï. Naive-Astrée E 8895. 2004
*"Fantasias":Les Voix Humaines violes de gambe. Atma ACD2 2205. 2001
*"The Mirrour and Wonder of his Age: John Jenkins Consort Music" :Fretwork. Virgin 7243 5 45230 2 1. 1996
*"All in a Garden Green: Pavan, Newarke Seidge, Four-part ayres, Fantasia-suite" :Rose Consort of Viols. Naxos 8.550687. 1993
*"Consort Music for Viols in Six Parts":
Hespèrion XX. Astrée E 8724. 1991
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Jenkins, J.
SHORT DESCRIPTION=English composer
DATE OF BIRTH=1592
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=1678
PLACE OF DEATH=Kimberley,
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