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John Dowland


(1563 - 1626)



John Dowland was born in 1563, probably in London, it is not sure if he is of English or possibly Irish origin.

He was a lutenist of distinction but failed because he was a Catholic, to win a position in the royal service.

Dowland started seeking his fortune abroad at Kassel and later, in 1598, at the court of Christian IV of Denmark.


Dowland was forced by debt to return to England in 1606 and eventually found an employment as one of the King's Lutes in 1612. He performed during the funeral ceremonies of King James I.

Dowland died the following year.


Dowland was the composer, in particular, of one of the best known songs of the period, Flow my tears, music much imitated, with a sense of melancholy. 
He described himself as - Dowland, semper dolens (Dowland, always grieving) - although he had a reputation as a cheerful man. 
Still he was embittered by his long failure to find employment at court. 

Vocal Music
Dowland was above all the composer of lute-songs, publishing his first collection of airs in 1597, followed by a second in 1600 and a third in 1603. 
He left over eighty secular songs and these include Come again: sweet love doth now endite, Fine knacks for ladies and Flow my tears, among many others. 

Lute Music
For the lute itself Dowland wrote Fantasias, and dance-movements, including Pavanes, Galliards, Almains and Jigs. 
Other Instrumental Music The best known of Dowland's instrumental compositions is his famous Lachrimae or Seaven Teares, for five viols and lute. 
This work includes a series of dance-movements, chiefly Galliards, and solemn Pavanes, using the theme familiar from the lute-song Flow my tears.





  

 

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