whose heavenly touch upon the lute doth ravish human sense
R. Barnfield 1598

John Dowland (1563-1626) was the greatest English composer for the lute. Despite this he had difficulties in establishing a career at home and he failed in his efforts to obtain a post at Queen Elizabeth's court. He had more success on the continent; after travels to France, Italy and Germany he was given a well-paid post at the Court of Christian IV of Denmark in 1598. Dowland returned to England several times during this appointment, often extending his visits (sometimes blaming the weather for his late return) to attend to his own publishing ventures in London. King Christian eventually lost patience and dismissed him in 1606. Six years later Dowland was appointed one of the Lutes to James I and he held this post until his death in 1626. This programme illustrates his extraordinarily varied lute music from light, frivolous pieces such as Lady Hunsdon's Puffe and Mrs. Winter's Jump to profound works expressing the darkest melancholy (Semper Dowland semper dolens and Farewell).

This programme also playable on original lute

8-course lute by Michael Lowe, Oxford 1980
« Back to programmes listing