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John Dowland

1563 - February 20, 1626
born in London, England, composed during the Renaissance period
Melancholy was all the rage in Elizabethan England, and John Dowland was the most stylish composer of his time. "Semper Dowland, semper dolens" was his motto, and much of his music is indeed exquisitely dolorous. Although he was a talented singer, Dowland mainly followed a dual career as a composer and lutenist. He was the period's most renowned and significant composer of lute solos, and especially ayres (also called lute songs), and a gifted writer of consort music.

Nothing is known of Dowland's youth; even his date and place of birth are uncertain. It is clear, though, that in 1580 he went to Paris in the service of the ambassador to the French court. Dowland converted to Catholicism during this time, and later claimed that this excluded him from employment at the Protestant court of Elizabeth I in 1594 (actually, the court was cutting costs and left the position unfilled for five years). In 1598, Dowland became lutenist to Christian IV of Denmark, but he was dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct in 1606. Between 1609 and 1612 he entered the service of Theophilus, Lord Howard de Walden, and finally in 1612, he was appointed one of the "musicians for the lutes" to James I of England.

Dowland managed to respect tradition while absorbing the trends he encountered on the Continent. Dominating Dowland's output is a form called the lute song or ayre. It was peculiar to English music, and was systematized somewhat by the 1597 publication of Dowland's First Booke of Songes or Ayres. These early songs are simple strophic settings, often in dance forms, with an almost complete absence of chromaticism. Continental influences come to the fore in such later songs as In darkness let me dwell (1610) and Lasso vita mia (1612), full of declamation, chromaticism, and dissonance.

Dowland also wrote a significant amount of instrumental music, much of it for solo lute and some for consort. There are some ninety works for solo lute; many are dances, often with highly embellished variations. Even here the Continental influence shows; such chromatic fantasies as Forlorne Hope fancye and Farewell are far more intense than the lute music of any other English (or, for that matter, Continental) composer of the time. Among the consort works, Dowland's Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares Figured in Seaven Passionate Pavans (1604), became one of the most celebrated compositions of the late Renaissance. ~ James Reel, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Dowland: Pavans, Gailliards and Almains - Lute Music Vol. 3

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Track List: Dowland: Complete Lute Works, Vol. 2

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Track List: Dowland: Consort Music

Title: John Dowland : Consort Music and Songs
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Track List: Dowland: Fancyes, Dreams And Spirits - Lute Music, Vol. 1

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Track List: Dowland: First Booke of Songs

Title: The Firste Booke Of Songes Or Ayres Of Fowre Parts
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Track List: John Dowland: In Darkness Let Me Dwell

Title: Third Book Of Songs
Title: A Pilgrimes Solace
Title: Lachrimae, For Lute, P 15
Title: A Pilgrimes Solace
Title: The Firste Booke Of Songes Or Ayres Of Fowre Parts
Title: Third Book Of Songs
Title: The Second Booke Of Songs Or Ayres Of 2, 4. And 5. Parts
Title: The Firste Booke Of Songes Or Ayres Of Fowre Parts
Title: The Second Booke Of Songs Or Ayres Of 2, 4. And 5. Parts
Title: The Firste Booke Of Songes Or Ayres Of Fowre Parts
Title: Lachrimae, For Lute, P 15
Title: The Firste Booke Of Songes Or Ayres Of Fowre Parts
Title: Lachrimae, For Lute, P 15
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Track List: Selected Lute Music - Jakob Lindberg

Comments

Post rock influences
LOL
btmuschong
Methinks if he heard the top 40 today, he'd be melancholy
Early goth.
What a dow-ner.
discovered dowland from kronos quartet. i love it
What the people of Dowland's time referred to as Melancholy seems to be the feeling of introspectio n , or reflection. At least, that is how I feel when I listen to Dowland's music.
Teen angst doesn't hold a candle to Dowland.
Got me? DMB
Ahem. If you like Dowland, you might try the songs of quintessenti a l Renaissance man, Thomas Campion, who not only composed the music but confected the utterly perfect lyrics. How many composers or poets are studied and savored over four hundred years later? How many of those are celebrated for their words *as well as* their music?
johnnyohania n
You ninnyhammer, why did you mention that earworm Sting? If I wanted a contemporary reference I would not have escaped to the oldies...THE REAL OLDIES of 400 years ago. This is the one place to which I can live in the past.
Love Dowland and Sting's interpretati o n . Fitting for our time also?
ladchicago
If you like the recordings of Dowland's pure lute music, take a listen to a collection of songs and words by Dowland -- features Sting on vocals and Edin Karamazov on Lute."...a soundtrack to Dowland’s life in words and music”


http://www2. d e u t s c h e g r a m m o p h o n . c o m / s p e c i a l / ? I D = s t i n g - d o w l a n d

http://www.s t i n g - l a b y r i n t h . d e

If you were on the Continent in 1600, Dowland was thee act to catch!
kenalmj
I'd say I was born much too early but then I wouldn't have the same opportunitie s to hear as much variety or volume of lute, continuo, viola da gamba, etc. Ahhhhhh. Dowland, von Biber, Mouton. What would your music sound like if composed today?
I love this music and I love the description: "Melancholy was all the rage in Elizabethan England, and John Dowland was the most stylish composer of his time. "Semper Dowland, semper dolens" was his motto, and much of his music is indeed exquisitely dolorous." ô Exquisitely Doloroous Music come to me ... I say
I love lute music!

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