Daniel Bacheler


English composer. The only two printed sources of his music are the two volumes selected and edited by Robert Dowland in 1610. In the Variete of Lute Lessons he is described as one of the Groonies of her Majestics Privie Chamber. It is likely that it was the composer who was granted a coat of arms in February 1607, since the document refers to Daniell Batcheler of Aston Clinton in cont. Barkeshire (actually Beckinghamshire) and of the privey Chamber.
In Thomas Lantīs pictorial record of the funeral of Sir Philip Sidney, Sequitor celebritus et pompose funeris (London 1587), a page on horseback, so small that his feet can hardly reach the stirrups, is labelled Daniell Batcheler, and it seems likely that this was the composer when aged about 12 or 13.
In 1599 a Danyell Batcluter was commissioned to carry letters to Ireland, and in 1604 Queen Anne granted William Gorneldon and Daniel Bacheler a chest of arrows cast up by a wreck within her manor of Portland.
The scarcity of Bachelerīs works in the earliest of the Cambridge lute manuscripts, and the number in later sources place his main productive period as about 1600 to 1610. But one piece of consort music in the Walsingham Partbooks is dated as early as 1580, which might suggest the existence of another composer with the same name, perhaps a relative.
The titles of the consort pieces suggest that their composer was connected with the Sidney and Walsingham families: since it was Sir Francis Walsingham who organized Sidneyīs funeral it might be that the Daniel Bacheler in Lantīs funeral procession was the son of the composer responsible for the consort music (although it is not impossible on stylistic grounds for the same composer to have written both the lute music and the consort music; only the early date of one piece would suggest a very precocious talent on the part of the lutenist composer)
The earlier lute music shows Bachelerīs style to be furaly roated in the English tradition: the paired pavan and galliard, a fairly thick contrapunctal structure and frequent imitation are notable features. No ballad settings - an important source of inspiration in the previous generation - are found in his surviving works.
Those pieces, unique to Lord Herbert of Cherburyīs Lutebook, show a distinct move towards a later style with thinner textures and a more chordal basis. In the manuscript his pieces are sometimes attributed to Mr Daniel or Sr Danieli, but it is considered unlikely that this is an indication that this music is by John Danyel.
By far his most popular work seems to have been the galliard related to his song, To plead my faith, it appears in nine manuscripts and was printed in Fuhrmannīs Testudo gallo-germanica (Nuremberg 1615). Although two sources attribute it to John Dowland there is no reason to suppose it is not Bachelerīs work.

Daniel Bacheler has long been recognized as one of the most important english lutenist/composers, but until recently almost nothing was known of his life and career. Thanks to the tireless work of a descendant, Anne Batchelor, we now know the dates of his birth and death and the outline of his career. Bacheler wrote sophisticated broken consort music for the household of Sir Francis Walsingham while still in his teens, and quickly developed a highly distinctive style, breaking new ground in lute technique.
His works range in style from Elizabethan to the French-influenced early Baroque. Bachelerīs trademark was a style of ornamentation using rapid arpeggios and tremolo passages instead of the linear style of his predecessors. He was one of the most brilliant players of his day, earning the respect of Dowland, who wrote a galliard based on To plead my faith . Bacheler returned the compliment by writing a set of variations on Dowlandīs Earl of Essex Galliard . Bachelerīs greatest tour de force is his set of variations on the ever popular Jeune fillette, known in England as The Queens Almaine, in Italy as La Monica, and in Germany as the chorale Von Gott will ich nicht lassen.
Sadly, Bachelerīs brilliance was not able to reverse the decline of the lute in England. Less than sixty years after his death, it was considered a neglected and abused instrument. Thomas Mace words of encouragement to the lute in 1676 could not be any more appropriate today: Chear up, Brave Soull And know that some Yet living, who for Thee will take such Care (there are), That Thou shalt be Restorīd Thy former Glory, And be Eternizīd to Eternal Story.

Paul OīDette

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