Apollo’s Gifts. Dutch Songbooks for the Urban Youth of the Eighteenth Century

L.P. Grijp

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This article aims to contribute to our knowledge of informal urban singing culture in the Netherlands, especially within the context of youth subcultures. Hundreds of songbooks from the period of the Dutch Republic (the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) evidence such a singing culture. In this article I will focus on a hitherto lesser known complex of popular secular songbooks from the middle of the eighteenth century, which will be referred to as Apollo’s gifts. The first songbook in this series is Apollo’s Kermis-gift (Apollo’s Kermesse gift), published in The Hague in 1740 by Jan van den Bergh and followed by two sequels. Other books of the series are Apollo’s St. Nicolaas gift (Apollo’s St. Nicholas gift; Leiden 1741), Apollo’s Nieuwe-Jaers-gift (Apollo’s New Year gift; The Hague 1742), and Apollo’s Vastenavond-gift (Apollo’s Carnival gift; The Hague 1745). They remind us of the important function of informal public singing at annual feasts such as the Kermesse, New Year’s, St. Nicholas and Carnival. The entire population participated in such celebrations, including the elite and the middle classes who imitated the elite, as can be deduced from the songbooks. Apollo’s gifts also reminds us that these feasts were not merely folklore in the countryside but also a part of urban daily life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic and the City. Musical Cultures and Urban Societies in the Southern Netherlands and Beyond, c. 1650-1800
EditorsS. Beghein, B. Blondé, E. Schreurs
Place of PublicationLeuven
PublisherLeuven University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)978 90 5867 955 0
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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