John Dowland (1563-1626)
John Dowland was a composer, lutenist and singer. Despite now being the most well-known and well-loved of lute song composers of this period, not much is known about his early life. In the early 1580s he was in the service of the English ambassadors to the French court and in 1588 he obtained his Bachelors degree in Music from Christ Church, Oxford. Having been unable to secure a position at Elizabeth I’s court in 1594 – Dowland maintained that his Roman Catholic faith scuppered his application – he moved to Denmark in 1598 to work in the courts of King Christian IV where he remained until 1606. Later in life he finally secured a place in the court of James I in England and remained there until his death in 1626. Dowland is most known for his melancholic style which was influenced heavily by popular dance styles of the day and consort music, including Italian madrigals of composers such as Luca Marenzio.