The Dark Lord’s Music – The Lutebook of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury

  • Composer: Various
  • Title: The Dark Lord’s Music – The Lutebook of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury
  • Artist: Martin Eastwell
  • Catalogue No.: MMC117
  • Bar Code: 5065001668173
  • Release Date: 1st June 2018
  • UK Distribution: Select (UK) and Naxos (RoW)
  • Format: Single CD/Standard Jewel Case
  • Price Point: £13.95 (inc VAT & pstage/packaging)


Jakob Reys: Prelude; Du Gast: Fantasie; Jakob Reys: Sarabande; Robert Johnson: Fantasie; Pavana; John Dowland: Gaillard; Daniel Bacheler: La Jeune Fillette; Courante; Almaine; Diomedes Cato: Fantasia; Gauthier: Courante; Daniel Bacheler: Fantasie; Pavana: Henri de L’Enclos or Jakob Reys: Courante; Cuthbert Hely: Fantasia; Jakob Reys: Fantasie; Courante; Luc or Pierre Despond: Filou; Cuthbert Hely: Prelude; Edward, Lord Herbert: Pavan

Project Information

Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1582 – 1648) is one of the most extraordinary figures of 17th Century English life – brother of the poet George Herbert, but in his own right a diplomat, soldier, courtier, philosopher, poet, historian and musician, as well as being the author of one of the earliest and most entertaining autobiographies in English. In it, he tells us that he learnt “to sing my part at first sight in Musicke, and to play on the Lute with very litle or almost noe teaching….My learning of Musicke was for this end that I might entertaine my selfe at home  and together refresh my mynde after my studyes to which I was exceedingly inclined, and that I might not neede the company of younge men in whome I obserued in  those tymes much ill example and deboist.”

However, his lute book, preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, tells another story, for it is among the most important sources of English and Continental instrumental music of this period. Almost all the major English lute composers of the era are represented, while the large number of works by Continental composers is probably a consequence of Lord Herbert’s extensive travels and wide range of acquaintance throughout Europe. The book also contains extraordinary and otherwise unknown works by Cuthbert Hely and Lord Herbert himself, a last echo of English lute music’s “Golden Age”.

Herbert’s major philosophical work, “De Veritate…” remained on the Catholic Church’s “Index of Forbidden Books” until 1966 and has earned him the title of the “Father of English Deism”. Deism can be described as a philosophical position that asserts that the existence of a benevolent supreme being can be ascertained through observation of the natural world and the use of human reason but denies the direct interference of God in the world, and revelation as a source of knowledge in religion. It follows from this that Deists are generally hostile to organised religion, a dangerous position in the early 17th Century. To his contemporaries, he was known as “The Dark Lord Herbert” – both on account of his physical appearance, and the obscurity of his ideas.

Product Information

The CD booklet contains informative notes on the music; lute playing technique in the 17th century and the composers, written by Martin Eastwell. Also included are images from the original lute book (courtesy of The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge).

Artist Information

Martin Eastwell studied the lute with Diana Poulton, and later at the Royal College of Music with Jakob Lindberg. His first solo recording, The Royal Lute, appeared in 1991, and he has since played on recordings for BIS, EMI, Thames Television and numerous other companies. In 1992, he was invited to give a solo recital as part of the World Shakespeare Congress in Tokyo.

In recent years he has performed as a continuo player with many of the country’s leading early music groups and orchestras, including The Taverner Players, English Baroque Soloists, Scottish Early Music Consort, and Red Campion. Martin has a special interest in researching historical lute techniques, particularly those of the early 17th century. In 2001 he formed his own ensemble, Lyra which has performed widely throughout the UK.

He has taught on the NORVIS early music course in Durham for over 20 years and has also taught on a variety of other courses throughout the UK, including those at Ambleside and Dartington, and on various courses organised by the Lute Society.

Over the years, he has built up a fine collection of original 18th and 19th Century guitars, which regularly feature in his performances.

Having spent much of his career in the London area, in 1995 he moved to Northumberland, and now lives in a 16th Century farmhouse with his wife and two children, together with dogs, cats and chickens. When not playing the lute, he is a keen sailor, and has in recent years circumnavigated Ireland, and also made voyages ranging from Orkney to the Scilly Isles.

His previous release (MMC104) “Lady Maggie’s Lilt – music from the lute Book of Lady Margaret Wemyss 1629 – 1648” was highly praised by critics – and is one of the biggest sellers on the label (both physically and digitally).