Music: John Dowland - The Complete Solo Lute Music

John Dowland - The Complete Solo Lute Music

John Dowland (1563 - 1626)

Right, pay attention at the back there!

Pretty much an exact contemporary of Shakespeare, this guy was one of the most famous composers in late and post-Elizabethan England.

Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
Upon the lute doth ravish human sense;
-William Shakespeare - The Passionate Pilgrim. Sonnet 8

In 1580 he went to Paris, presumably apprenticed to a professional lutenist, under the patronage of the English ambassador. Returning to England in 1586, he married and in 1588 was admitted to his degree of Bachelor of Music from Christ Church, Oxford.

After being rejected for a court post as a lutenist (possibly because of his Catholicism) in 1594, he goes off to the various royal courts that existed in Europe at that time to seek his fortune.

Although he must have been well known as early as 1597 (as his first book was subsequently republished 4 times), he continued to be denied a post at the English court until 1612.

So, what do we have here?

This is 92 tracks of solo lute music written, for the most part, to be danced to. A lot of this stuff is titled "Mr So and So's Pavane" (a slow processional dance) or "Mrs Blah Blah's Galliard" (a more boisterous affair and a favourite of Elizabeth I) . You'll also see "Almain" and "Jig" used pretty liberally in the titles.

By and large (to my ears anyway), you're gonna be downloading slowed-down flamenco, with the famous, must-haves being "Lachrimae", "Semper Dowland Semper Dolens" and "Frog Galliard".

This really is "music you should hear before you die".


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I found the links and description at this excellent blog: A Dashing Blade

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