http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1036632/f17.image (Consulted 2 July 2014). Other, slightly later transcripts of the song have also emerged.
3> The transcribed song is a serenade in G minor for a ‘haute-contre’ (to be distinguished from ‘countertenor’), with a line for the base. On the stage, the song was initially performed by Claude le Gros (?-1695 ?) to a ‘concert’ of twenty-nine instruments – specified in the libretto as six theorbs, nine flutes and fourteen violins.
5> The lovers find themselves alone in the night and relish each other’s presence. Philips’s version is a more conventional love song where the speaker describes herself or himself (the speaker’s gender is not specified) as dying because of her or his lover’s cruelty. It is the choice of the song itself which is remarkable rather than the new poem she writes to the same tune, as it reveals the extent of Philips’s interest in contemporary French court culture and music. The Ballet de l’impatience was a royal ballet, whose music was composed by the most prominent French musician of the times, Lully, while the text was by Benserade, himself a highly successful author of plays and romances. The Ballet was organized as a series of tableaux loosely illustrating the evils of impatience. It was a very public affair, performed three times, on 19, 22, and 26 February 1661 (French calendar). The performances were interrupted by the news of the agony, then the death of Cardinal of Mazarin (on 9 March). The young King himself, Louis XIV, was involved, acting the part of a lord, and dancing in front of the whole court in the Louvre palace. He also danced at some point, if we are to believe Guy Patin, in front of Henrietta Maria (and her followers), who had just returned from England to prepare the marriage of her daughter Henrietta to the Duke of Orléans, the King’s brother, a marriage which eventually took place on 31 March 1661. Marie-Claude Canova-Green suggests that it is in fact to honour his aunt that the young Louis XIV commissioned this ballet, which she thinks contains allusions to Stuart masques such as Davenant’s Triumphs of the Prince D'Amour, among others. Through the English present, there are many ways Philips could have heard about the performance, and about the song in particular. There were numerous exchanges between France and England in the early 1660s, at a time when the English court was reinventing itself. Sir Charles Cotterell, for intance, Philips’s dear friend, was the Master of Ceremony of Charles II: he might have had an interest in keeping informed about what the French court was being entertained with. Henry Jermyn, Henrietta-Maria’s loyal friend, was a correspondent of Cowley’s, himself a friend of Philips’s. In March 1661, Sir Samuel Tuke, whom Katherine Philips met, was sent on a embassy by Charles II to the funeral of Cardinal Mazarin. These are just a few examples of potential channels through which Katherine Philips could have got informed about contemporary French court culture, and could have heard about the song she used as a basis for her own song. For the upwardly-mobile poet, who found herself in Dublin in 1662 and 1663 at the very centre of a brilliant aristocratic circle, where she was asked to contribute to the new court culture, French literature was just the new thing that needed to be emulated. These were the years when she was busy translating Corneille, and, as is well-known, she also wrote original songs to be sung between the acts, in preparation for a superlative aristocratic entertainment, Pompey, which was performed to great acclaim in February 1663. All this might explain her interest in a French royal Ballet that had just been performed and published.
9> In recent years, French music historians like Anne-Madeleine Goulet and Thomas Leconte have started studying the circulation of these airs, both for the music and the words, and the forms of sociability which they conditioned. All these songs belong to the same précieux, largely European moment, where originality was not sought after and derivativeness was the very thing. By choosing to echo this contemporary aesthetic, Philips must be seen as a mediator in England for the French aristocratic continental culture. In the case of the song from the Ballet de l’impatience, she was clearly curious about a royal entertainement which had been performed in front of Henrietta Maria. Here Philips shows her interest in French court culture, but also in the musical culture of her time, and in the continental song as a coterie genre, clearly identified as elitist.
consulted 2 July 2014. On the genre of the French Ballet, see for instance Karen Britland, Drama at the Courts of Queen Henrietta Maria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 211-15.
(http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1036755/f104.image.r=ballet%20de%20l%27impatience.langFR, consulted 2 July 2014),
one at the Bibliothèque municipale de Toulouse, with the music
(http://numerique.bibliotheque.toulouse.fr/cgi-bin/superlibrary?a=d&d=/ark:/74899/B315556101_CONS0001_2_1#.U7Pb86i3ob0, consulted 2 July 2014).
There are five more manuscripts of the score referenced in the Répertoire international des sources musicales (RISM, http://www.rism.info/fr/home.html, consulted 2 July 2014), where the song appears in collections of songs and airs out of ballets.