A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Folia

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FOLIA. Said to be an old Spanish dance for a single dancer—'ces belles chaconnes, ces Folies d'Espagne,' which the son of the seneschal of Rennes danced to such perfection (Mad. de Sevigné, July 24, 1689). But really all that is known of it is that the 22 variations, or the theme of them, which close Corelli's 12 solos (op. 5) are entitled Follia; that the same bass and air, but with different variations, are given in the 'Division Violin' as 'Faronell's division on a ground'; that Vivaldi's op. 1, no. 12, is a set of variations on the same; and that Hawkins (chap. 141) cites it as 'a favourite air known in England by the name of Farinelli's[1] Ground,' composed by Farinelli, the uncle of the singer, who was court musician at Hanover in 1684. It seems to follow from this that the ground, and not the treble part, was the 'air,' just as it is in the chaconnes of Bach and Handel (60 variations). The ground is one on which a skilful violin player and a skilful dancer might go on fiddling and dancing ad ifinitum. The following is Corelli's theme:—

{ \time 3/4 \key d \minor << \relative d'' { d4 d4.( e8) cis2. d4 d4.( c!16 d) e2. f4 f4.( g8) e2. d8 cis d4.( e8) cis2. d4 d4.( e8) cis2. d4 d4.( c!16 d) e2. f4 f4.( g8) e2 f4 d d4.( cis8) d2. \bar "||" }
\new Staff { \clef bass \key d \minor \relative d { d2. a d c f c2 cis4 d bes2 a2. d a d c f c4. cis8 d4 g, a2 d2. } } 
\figures { <_>2. <_+> <5>8 <6!> <_>2 <_>2. <_> <_>2 <6>4 <_> <7>8 <6> <_>4 <_+>2. <_> <_+> <5>8 <6!> <_>2 <_>1. <_>4. <6>8 <_>4 <7 6> <5 4>8 <_+> } >> }
Cherubini has introduced 8 bars of it in the opening of the Overture to the 'Hôtellerie Portugaise.'

[ G. ]

  1. The common English name was 'Fardinell's,' as Madame de Querouaille was called 'Madam Carvell.'