Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holborne, Anthony

HOLBORNE, ANTHONY (fl. 1597), musical composer, was possibly a member of Queen Elizabeth's Chapel Royal. He published: 1. ‘The Cittharn Schoole,’ printed by Peter Short, London, 1597, with a dedication to Thomas, lord Burgh, baron Gainsburgh, and an address to the ‘proficient scholler or lover of the cittharn.’ It contains (Grove, Dict. i. 743) thirty-two preludes, pavans, galliards, popular song tunes, &c., for the cithern alone, in tablature; twenty-three others for the cithern with an accompaniment, in ordinary notation, for the bass viol; and another two for the cithern with accompaniments for treble, tenor, and bass viols. These pieces are followed by ‘Six short Aers, Neapolitan like, to three voyces without the instrument, the first-fruits of composition done by William Holborne’ (brother to Anthony). A copy of this rare volume, once belonging to Evelyn, is now in the library of the Royal College of Music. 2. ‘Pavans, Galliards, Almains, and other short Æirs both grave and light, in five parts, for Viols, Violins, or other Musicall Winde Instruments, made by Anthony Holborne, gentleman and servant to her Most Excellent Maiestie. Imprinted at London … by William Barley … ,’ 1599. The books contain sixty-five pieces. ‘As they are in number many, so they are of a nature variable to please variable natures,’ wrote Holborne in a graceful dedication to Sir Richard Champernown. A copy of this work, possibly unique, is in the British Museum Library, where there are also some unpublished single pieces (Lute music, Addit. MS. 31392, and Egerton MS. 2046). A duet, ‘My heavy Sprite,’ with lute accompaniment, by Holborne, is in Robert Dowland's ‘Musicall Banquet,’ 1610. Holborne wrote commendatory lines in Latin for Farnaby's ‘Canzonets,’ 1598, and in English for Morley's ‘Plain Introduction,’ 1608; while John Dowland dedicated the first song, ‘I saw my Ladye weepe,’ of his ‘Second Book,’ 1600, to the ‘most famous Anthony Holborne.’ The cithern had before that date become popular, and was not yet superseded by the guitar of foreign design.

[Rimbault's Bibliotheca Madrigaliana, p. 10; manuscript notes in Holborne's Pavans, &c.; State Papers, Dom. (Mary) 1555 vol. v. No. 43, (Elizabeth) 1561 vol. xviii. No. 12; authorities cited.]

L. M. M.