John Dowland

John Dowland, popular composer of the Late Renaissance, was buried on this day 20th of February, 1620, at St Ann’s, Blackfriars, London (which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, 1666, and never rebuilt). He was probably born in 1563, and historians are not very certain of his place of birth nor where his kin came from (he may have been born in London to Irish parents, according to some).

Portrait of the English composer John Dowland (1563-1626).

Dowland was a Catholic at a time when England was increasingly hostile to Catholicism, and he made his way to Denmark, where he worked for King Christian IV of Denmark. His music ranges from the fun dances to the sombre, melancholic works, galliards to fantasias, and more, Dowland’s music is certainly worth getting acquainted with.

Music clips:

The following Dowland lute piece, Lachrimae Pavan and Galliard, is played by Nigel North:

Here is a dance by Dowland:

Next we have Dowland’s “Flow my tears,” performed beautifully by soprano Valeria Mignaco and lutenist Alfonso Marin. This was recorded live at Sint-Pieterskerk in Belgium:

Here is John Dowland’s beautiful, “Come again,” which is performed by lutenist Edin Karamazov and is sung by Sting:

Dowland music recommendations:

For my birthday last September, I received this collection of Dowland lute pieces recorded by the immensely talented Nigel North, from my sister Vivian. Nigel North, who played the lute in the first clip above, plays in this album. I really love and treasure this collection, and it’s great for helping you “get back into the past.” This one is just available on CD, but it’s super easy to rip them onto your MP3 player, so there’s no trouble.

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The next one I recommend is Dowland: Lachrimae (1604), which has . This one, fortunately, is available both on (the much cheaper) MP3 and CD, so whichever you prefer, you can get it:

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This next album is if you want to splash out and get the WHOLE Dowland collection, which is pretty awesome, and has everything, from the lute music, to the songs, everything. Even I don’t have this one, but it’s been on my wish list for a while.

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Read more about Dowland:

1. HOASM: John Dowland.
2. John Dowland’s biography at Naxos.

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