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John Dowland

John Dowland was born in 1563, probably in London. He was a lutenist of distinction but failed, allegedly to win a position in the royal service, because he was a Catholic. He therefore looked for his fortune abroad at Kassel and later, in 1598, at the court of Christian IV of Denmark. He was forced by debt to return to England in 1606 and eventually won appointment as one of the King's Lutes in 1612. Dowland was the composer of one of the best known songs of the period, “Flow my teares”, a song that epitomises the fashionable humour of the day in a melancholy way. Dowland also composed lute-songs, publishing his first collection of airs in 1597, followed by a second in 1600 and a third in 1603. He left over eighty secular songs and these include “Come again: sweet love doth now endite”, “Fine knacks for ladies” and “Flow my teares”, among many others of moving intensity. For the lute itself Dowland wrote Fantasias, and dance-movements, including Pavanes, Galliards, Almains and Jigs. The best known of Dowland's instrumental compositions is his famous “Lachrimae” or “Seaven Teares”, for five viols and lute. This work includes a series of dance-movements, chiefly Galliards, and solemn Pavanes, using the theme familiar from the lute-song “Flow my teares”.