Dead: Apr 16, 1645 in London
Genre: Chamber Music
Capt. Tobias Hume was a remarkably unsuccessful composer in his lifetime, but the qualities that put off his contemporaries attract today's admirers of viol music. Hume's music was nearly as eccentric as the man himself; it exploited the viol's wide dynamics and ability to sustain a melodic line, in contrast to the more contrapuntally oriented lute, which the viol was slowly supplanting in popularity during Hume's lifetime. Hume filched brief musical phrases from other men's compositions and incorporated them into new pieces of widely varying moods, often with odd titles (My Mistresse hath a Pritty Thing, Twickledum Twickledum).
Hume himself was every bit as colorful as his music, perhaps more so. Despite his serious musical efforts - he published two extensive collections of pieces - he though of himself primarily as a soldier. Nothing is known of his early life; he seems to have spent many years traipsing across Europe as a mercenary, serving as an officer in the Swedish and Russian armies (it was in the former that he achieved the rank of captain; late in life, he claimed to be a colonel). The end of the war between Sweden and Poland in 1629 probably sent Hume back home to England for good. He did not enjoy financial success; that year he entered London's Charterhouse, a former priory redesigned as a home for "distressed" gentlemen, and died there in 1645, after several years of issuing periodic, unanswered missives offering his services to the English king to, among other things, crush the Catholic rebellion in Ireland that began in 1642.
Even while soldiering, Hume aspired to be a recognized composer promoting the virtues of the viol against those of the lute. He published two big books of music; the first, in 1605, is full of fanciful instrumental dances and meditations and stands as the largest collection of music for solo lyra viol by a single composer in the early seventeenth century. The second, from 1607, titled Captaine Humes Poeticall Musicke, is more stylistically circumspect, intended as it was to gain the patronage of Queen Anne. In general, Hume's pieces make few technical demands on their players (suggesting that Hume himself was no virtuoso), relying instead on interesting sonorities and musical invention.
- James Reel (allmusic.com)
Relatively little is known of Tobias Hume. His date of birth has been inferred from his admission, in 1629, as a pensioner, to the Charterhouse, where regulations stipulated that those admitted should have reached the age of sixty, but the inference seems open to question. He published two collections of pieces for viols and songs, The First Part of Ayres in 1605 and Captain Humes Poeticall Musicke in 1607. His dedication of the first of these, to "Lord William, Earle of Pembrooke, L. Herbert of Cardyf, L. Par and Rosse of Kendall, Lord Marmion, and S. Quintin, Lord Warden of the Stannaries, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter", tells us something of him: "My Life hath beene a Souldier, and my idleness addicted to Musicke, of both which I here doe offer the service to your best worthy selfe". His second collection is dedicated to Queen Anne, in an apparently desperate attempt to secure royal favour. The third Earl of Pembroke, identified by some as the Mr W.H. to whom Shakespeare's sonnets are dedicated, was an important patron, but seems to have failed to oblige Captain Hume. In 1607 he offers "this last hope of my labours, to your most princely acceptance, humbly imploring that, it would please your thrice-royall spirit, not to esteeme my Songs unmusicall, because my Fortune is out of tune". This dedication again seems to have had no positive result. From other sources, notably his application in 1611 to King Charles I for permission to engage in a military expedition under the King of Sweden, a request that was denied, it may be gathered that Hume had had varied experience as a soldier, including in the service of the Swedish King, who now asked for his return. The next documentary evidence of his life is found in his application in 1629 to enter the Charterhouse as a 'poor brother'. In 1642, apparently in some distress, he seeks money from Parliament, describing himself as a colonel and hoping to enter military service again, now, seemingly, nearly seventy, in the expedition to suppress the rebels in Ireland. He died in 1645. It will be gathered that the conjectural date of birth of 1569 offered by some, leads to gross improbabilities. Problems of chronology lie in the fact that by 1605 he had already had experience, seemingly abroad, as a soldier, but then military life could start relatively early.
Hume claims originality in his compositions. He is a particular champion of the viola da gamba over the lute, claiming for the former instrument the possibility of providing polyphony, expression and diminution or variation. The instrument that Hume prefers is the so-called lyra-viol, or, at least, the technique of performing on a bass viol in the lyra-way, as the title of Playford's 1682 publication suggests: Musick's Recreation on the Viol, Lyra-way. The lyra-viol itself seems to have been a smaller form of bass viol, with certain other modifications and a wide variety of possible tunings. The instrument or the method of performance, since it seems that music for the lyra-viol could also be played on the bass division viol, won great popularity in England during the seventeenth century. There were experiments at first with the addition of sympathetic strings, but these did not lead to any lasting change in the instrument. If the bow was not used, it was possible to use the lyra-viol as a plucked instrument, and the practice of plucking an open string with the left hand, while bowing with the right, as on the later baryton, was used. Hume's publication of 1605 is a very early source for the practice of plucking the strings and for the use of the wood of the bow in col legno, although he makes no use of the later practice of the thump, the plucking of a string with the left hand while bowing.
Тобиас Хьюм (англ. Tobias Hume, 1569? - 16 апреля 1645, Лондон) - шотландский композитор и виолист.
Профессиональный солдат, офицер шведской и русской армий. Ему принадлежит множество сочинений для виолы, они были изданы сборниками The First Part of Ayres (или Musicall Humors, 1605) и Captain Humes Poeticall Musicke (1607). Хьюм одним из первых в Европе использовал технику пиццикато и col legno.
С 1629 как отставной капитан жил в лондонской богадельне Чартерхаус, где и скончался.