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Friday Arts Feature - Sarabande

by British Awakening – 23 Aug 2019

Country Dance By William Hogarth - The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, Link

Continuing with my theme of rebooted classics I thought I would write about another favourite – the Sarabande.

Sarabande is a corruption of zarabanda, a Spanish dance that originated in central America, it was first mentioned in the poem Vida y tiempo de Maricastaña by Fernando de Guzmán Mejía in 1539. As a dance it was especially popular in the 16th and 17th centuries mainly in the Spanish colonies before making a smash hit with those crazy baroque teenagers in Madrid.

The Sarabande was thought indecent by the Catholic Church (there’s a surprise), the Jesuit priest Juan de Mariana describing it as “a dance and song so loose in its words and so ugly in its motions that it is enough to excite bad emotions in even very decent people”. Cervantes (he of Don Quioxte) has one of his characters argue that the Sarabande originated in hell. Indeed so shocking was the dance that the Spanish banned it in 1583, a ban that by all accounts was completely ignored. I guess you just can’t stop people twerking to those toe tapping harpsichord beats if they want to.

The Sarabande most people are familiar with is Handel’s Keyboard Suite in D minor which featured most notably in the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon. Incidentally I can thoroughly recommend both the movie and the soundtrack to you if you are not familiar with the film.

So, without further ado I would draw your interest to a version of Handel’s Keyboard Suite by James Bright. The track was released on a Café del Mar compilation of classical reboots.

Finally, for the music purists amongst you the version from Barry Lyndon.

Have a nice weekend.

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