Dowland, Ornithoparchus, and Self-Fashioning in Early Seventeenth-Century England

Joshua Klopfenstein University of Chicago

What business did English lutenist John Dowland, dogged by his past association with Catholicism, have in translating Andreas Ornithoparchus's century-old treatise on the fundamentals of singing in Catholic liturgical practice and trying to sell it in Protestant England? The answer lies in a complicated web of the professional realities of the working musician. Following Gibson (2007, 2012) and building on Gale (2013) and Freeman (2017), I read Dowland as embarking on a project of creative self-fashioning with his treatise. Dowland's translation helps to shed light on the myriad activities in which professional musicians took part in the early seventeenth century, smudging clearly defined divisions and suggesting a more complex professional marketplace in which a musician needed a multifaceted approach in order to survive. It also draws attention to the importance of translation in a variety of senses: Latin into English, pre-Reformation Catholicism into English Protestantism, practical theory into speculative abstraction.