Mourning music for a dead Queen. On the music for the funeral of Queen Ulrika Eleonora the younger in 1693
Ulrika Eleonora the younger, Queen of Sweden since 1680, died in July 1693. She was buried in the Royal funeral church, Riddarholmskyrkan, on November 28 the same year. The Queen’s funeral was shaped to be one of the most magnificent ceremonies of state in Sweden during the baroque era. The decorations for the ceremony were created by the Royal court architect, Nicodemus Tessin the younger (1654–1728). For the Queen’s coffin he built a castrum doloris with a huge black pyramid, covered with emblems and inscriptions painted in golden colour, which were illuminated by lamps inside the construction (see illustration).
Little or nothing has been known about the music played during this ceremony. According to the official relation two musical works were performed. In this article I am able to show that the works referred to consisted in one composition by the French court violinist Pierre Verdier, Kristus är mitt liv, and one by the Flemish composer Daniel Danielis, Ascpice e caelis, with a new text in Swedish. This can be shown by means of source and watermark studies and by analysing the texts. The bible word “Kristus är mitt liv och döden är min vinning” (Phil. 1:21: “to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”) serving as text base for Verdier’s piece was the Queens motto and the text for the sermon. An interesting fact is that Danielis’ Aspice e caelis was originally composed in 1672 for the funeral of a princess of Güstrow-Mecklenburg, who was a cousin to Ulrika Eleonora’s husband the King, and who bore the same name as the deceased Queen.
Both works are marked by a sad, plaintive affect appropriate for such an occasion. Both are set in c minor and scored for gamba consort, which in this time was associated with tears and sorrow. Arguably, one could relate the specifically sweet and tearful character of these pieces to the Queens’ female gender. Contemporary funeral music for Kings and male heroes seem to have had a more dignified and moderate affect. In both works we find instances of symbolic, rhethorical personification: in Verdiers composition the duet between bass and soprano can arguably be associated with the Queens’ tender relation to Christ. In Danieli’s motet the solo soprano voice can be linked to female gender of the person being buried.
2004. Vol. 86, 27-48 p.
musikhistoria, Dübensamlingen, Ulrika Eleonora d.ä., Verdier, Danielis, begravningsmusik