Music for the Lute

Lute, about 1630, probably Italian. Museum no. 1125-1869

Lute, about 1630, probably Italian. Museum no. 1125-1869

The lute, which derived from the Arabic Ud, came to Europe in the 13th century via Islamic Spain. The lute was adopted throughout the whole of Europe, becoming the most important instrument in Western music in the centuries that followed. Lutes were relatively cheap to make and were the most popular instruments in the Renaissance, though they were also made with the most expensive materials for rich households and patrons.

Many Renaissance paintings and prints show lutes being played in different circumstances: in church, in palaces, in a domestic environment, in street processions and in taverns. The lute was an instrument that many amateurs played and was certainly not only for professional musicians.

Audio: Washa mesa, Der Hupff Auff, Gassenhauer

This instrumental piece of music is from a book published in 1536 by Hans Neusidler in Nuremberg, Germany. This recording was made by the Royal College of Music especially for the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries thanks to an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Download: mp3 | ogg

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain

22 March – 13 July 2014. Experience the world of William Kent, the most prominent architect and designer in early Georgian Britain and explore how his versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style for his age when Britain defined itself as a new nation and developed an Italian-inspired style.

Visit the V&A exhibition William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain

Shop online

David Starkey's Music and Monarchy (Hardcover)

David Starkey's Music and Monarchy (Hardcover)

For the kings and queens of England, a trumpet fanfare or crash of cymbals could be as vital a weapon as a cannon. Showcasing a monarch's power, prest…

Buy now

Event - Norfolk House Music Room Concert

Fri 02 May 2014–Fri 04 July 2014

SPECIAL EVENT: Experience live music in the unique setting of the Norfolk Music Room

Book online