Personalities | John Dowland | Renaissance | Classical

English composer and lutenist

Dowland was the greatest lute-song composer of the early seventeenth century. His conversion to Catholicism in the early 1580s may have contributed to his lack of professional success. Twice disappointed in applications for a post at court, he travelled and then worked on the continent. By November 1598 he was employed at the court of Christian IV of Denmark, where he stayed until 1606. Dowland’s best songs, such as the bittersweet ‘Now oh now I needs must part’, have an air of melancholy. Though intended for voice and lute, they can be sung by four unaccompanied voices. This melancholy is epitomized in his set of variations Lachrimae (1604).

Recommended Recording:
Lachrimae, Hespèrion XX (Auvidis Astrée)

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