Modern science was born amidst the Thirty Years War, a terrible conflict that began when an invasion of Bohemia ended the rule of its King and Queen after just one winter. The Winter Queen was Elizabeth Stuart, granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots. The war affected the lives of many people – among them Kepler, Galileo and the poet John Donne, born 450 years ago.
Dave Grieve tells the story, interwoven with music from the period by the Mayfield Singers with Ewan Robertson (bass flute), Valerie Webster and Lilian Kelly (cello), and Paisley Abbey organist George McPhee. There is Humfrey and Handel, Monteverdi and Vincenzo Galilei, along with Buxtehude, Judith Weir and a setting of Three Donne Lyrics by Edward McGuire.
And new philosophy calls all in doubt,
The element of fire is quite put out;
The sun is lost, and th’ earth, and no man’s wit
Can well direct him where to look for it.
And freely men confess that this world’s spent,
When in the planets, and the firmament
They seek so many new; they see that this
Is crumbled out again to his atomies.
‘Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone;
All just supply, and all relation.
– John Donne, 1611
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