R ichard Barnfield We know nothing of the ancestry of John Dowland, nor his date of birth or baptism. Claims made at various times that he was born in either Westminster, London or Dalkey in County Dublin, Ireland are both based on unreliable testimony or evidence so flimsy that it has been largely discounted by modern scholars. It is likely that had Dowland showed particular promise as a musician he would have served an apprenticeship with a noble patron, according to the custom of the day. Such a theory is supported by the fact that in Dowland went to Paris in the service of Sir Henry Cobham, the English resident or ambassador in the French capital. At court he would also have heard the airs and dances whose melodic fluency undoubtedly had an influence on his own style.
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R ichard Barnfield We know nothing of the ancestry of John Dowland, nor his date of birth or baptism. Claims made at various times that he was born in either Westminster, London or Dalkey in County Dublin, Ireland are both based on unreliable testimony or evidence so flimsy that it has been largely discounted by modern scholars. It is likely that had Dowland showed particular promise as a musician he would have served an apprenticeship with a noble patron, according to the custom of the day.
Such a theory is supported by the fact that in Dowland went to Paris in the service of Sir Henry Cobham, the English resident or ambassador in the French capital. At court he would also have heard the airs and dances whose melodic fluency undoubtedly had an influence on his own style. His conversion also seems to have had an ambiguous element to it, as is witnessed by the award in July of his Bachelor of Music degree by Christ Church, Oxford.
To receive his degree, Dowland would have had to subscribe to the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church, so must have kept very quiet about his Catholicism precisely at the time England was nervously awaiting the arrival of the Spanish Armada. The award of his degree signifies the arrival of Dowland as a major figure, recognition confirmed by him being named by the Oxford academic John Case in his Apologia musices as one the foremost musicians of the day.
In the event, the position remained unfilled. The duke in particular showered the lutenist with gifts and offers of employment, offers that were rejected by Dowland, whose ultimate objective at the time was a meeting and possible study in Rome with the great madrigalist Luca Marenzio. But more sinister figures lay in wait in Florence.
At some point during his stay, Dowland was approached by exiled English Catholics involved in treasonable activities. At this point it seems that Dowland panicked, giving up all idea of going to Rome. Instead he fled from Italy back to Germany, where from Nuremberg he wrote a remarkable missive to the powerful courtier Sir Robert Cecil.
It would seem that Dowland had either overestimated the importance of his self-confessed peccadillo or was quickly forgiven at court, for in he received an encouraging letter from the courtier Henry Noel assuring him of a welcome at the English court, where according to Noel Elizabeth had several times expressed a wish for his return. Dowland did indeed return to England, doubtless now in high hopes of the court post that had so far eluded him. But despite the success in of the First Booke of Songes, which went through four further editions between and , Dowland remained without the court appointment he craved.
Once again he turned his eye to the Continent, this time accepting the post of court lutenist to the hedonistic King Christian IV of Denmark at a generous salary of daler a year, making him one of the highest paid court employees in any capacity. As we will see, it was on one such visit that he oversaw the publication of Lachrimae. Records of the Danish court show that by the summer of Dowland was starting to receive advances on his pay, the implication that he was in financial difficulties leading to the suggestion that it was the cause of his dismissal from the Danish court in February The following year saw the publication of A Pilgrimes Solace , dedicated to his current employer Lord Howard de Walden.
A wild polemical outburst, it includes a barely disguised attack on his treatment by the English court in addition to criticism of singers and younger lutenists who have no respect for their elders.
Notwithstanding such bitterness, in Dowland finally gained the post at the English court he had so long coveted, it apparently being a position created for him rather than a vacancy, since it raised the number of court lutenists from four to five.
Like the most notable of his colleagues, Robert Johnson, he was paid a daily wage of 20 pence a day rather than an annual salary. Since court duties were shared between five players, subsequent records rarely mention Dowland by name, the last occasion on which they do so being for the funeral of James I in , by which time he had been awarded his doctorate, almost certainly from Oxford University. After all, is not his output pervaded by melancholy and darkness?
Yet before we take the easy option of simply assigning to him a melancholic character, it is worth looking more closely at the rather different meaning the word held for Dowland and his contemporaries. Yet melancholy, which induced a preference for solitude, sorrow and dark reflection, was by no means regarded in a purely negative light.
Yet melancholy was also regarded as a sickness, particularly in late Elizabethan England, where it became highly fashionable both as a genuine state and as a conceit.
More of a paradox still is the fact that music itself was also considered a cure for melancholy. As has frequently been noted, Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares figured in Seaven Passionate Pavans, with diverse other Pavans, Galiards, and Almands, set forth for the Lute, Viols, or Violins in five parts, to give the partly modernised full title was a ground-breaking publication in several respects. Most importantly, it was the first collection of string consort music to be published with a part in lute tablature.
It was also the first and last publication of consort music to be published in folio table score, with parts grouped around each side of the page enabling, at least in theory, the players to perform from a single score. In reality it has been shown that if the players are close enough to read from the original score, they do not have sufficient room to bow their instruments.
Dowland appears to have composed some of the pieces before he left Denmark in the summer of , while others were written during his extended stay in England. As we will see, some of the pieces were newly composed, while others were adaptations of pre-existing works.
The published order places the seven Lachrimae pavans as an opening sequence, with the remaining pavans following and the galliards and almands forming a final concluding group. There are however other performance possibilities such as the standard linking of pavan and galliard.
Dowland would undoubtedly have known this work and as we have seen was a great admirer of the Italian madrigalist, who he had hoped to meet in Rome. Like all pavans it has three strains or sections , each with a double bar repeat. Here we meet immediately with the contrapuntal mastery, dissonant suspensions — a striking example occurs in the third strain — passing notes and rhythmic disruption note the pull between the descending and ascending syncopated figuration in the second strain that give the Lachrimae pavans their extraordinary emotional intensity.
The opening of the second strain is particularly striking, moving us for a few bars into a world of tranquil respite there is a suggestion of C major in the midst of the prevailing pain and intensity.
In common with most of the galliards in Lachrimae , it also exists in an earlier instrumental version and also as the song Can she excuse my wrongs, although in this case it is not clear which came first.
The music has a confident, virile swing to it that aptly characterises the dashing Essex, with the cross-rhythms typical of the galliard. The opening measures of the second strain are some of the most beautiful and unsettling in the whole of Lachrimae , starting with an unprepared chord of B major and continuing to display a disconcerting harmonic instability that carries the music to a transcendental grief beyond tears.
Once again it also exists as a lute solo, where it is known as "Mignarde", and a song, "Shall I strive" A Pilgrimes Solace. The work has an elegance and, especially in the unusually long middle strain, restrained beauty that seem to accord ill with Noel, who was known for his extravagant way of life.
All this is characterised by a greater sense of urgency than prevails in the other pavans, with insistent dotted rhythms and, in the second strain, chromaticism. Little is known about man who gave his name to "M. Giles Hobies his Galiard" other than his being a member of a Gloucestershire family who matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford in With its strongly articulated rhythms the galliard owns to a sturdy masculinity in which the spirit of dance is especially evident in the third strain.
The new mood is immediately apparent in the positive ascending stepwise motion in the bass part, while the piece is pervaded by a warm glow only momentarily cast in shadow by the dissonant chromaticism of measures 2 and 3 of the second strain. It is predominantly founded on rising or falling scalar motion. Gryffith was a Welsh Member of Parliament whose connection with Dowland is not known.
Aptly, this concluding pavan elevates tears to a purity all the more affecting for the air of restrained nobility with which it is imbued. The identity of Collier remains a mystery. The suggestion that it forms a deliberate appendix to the more generalised emotional states of Lachrimae is convincing.
During its course Dowland works in several references to the longingly amorous "Go christall tears" First Booke of Songs , leaving one to wonder if there is an autobiographical sub-text. The appropriately solemn tread is enhanced and dignified by the long sustained notes in all but the middle strain.
The Bucton who gave his name to this delightful piece has not been identified. The duple time and clear-cut rhythms of the almand convey a simpler impression than the pavans and galliards, but Dowland maintains interest in this bright little almand by providing plenty of movement in the inner parts.
The mood of the heart-easing melody of the first strain is carried through the whole piece, which is embellished with felicitous ornamental figures. In addition to this consort setting, there are also two lute versions. John Langton came from a Lincolnshire family; it is not known if he had any direct link with Dowland. As if to finally dispel melancholy, Dowland ends Lachrimae with another lively almand, this one taking its name, "M.
George Whitehead his Almand", from a member of a Northumberland family who later fought in the Civil War. Predominantly chordal, it includes several striking modulations in the second half. John Dowland - Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares. Back to Home Page. Back to Top of Page.
No files submitted. PDF scanned by R. Many tablature manuscripts of this work are extant from English and continental sources but it seems impossible to determine which is or are by Dowland. Modern editions of lute music by Lumsden Schott, and Poulton and Lam Faber, , reprinted are the most reliable sources. Genre Categories Pavans ; For lute ; Scores featuring the lute ; For 1 player ; For 4 recorders arr ; Scores featuring the recorder arr ; For 4 players arr ; For harpsichord arr ; Scores featuring the harpsichord arr ; For 1 player arr.
Dowland, John – Pavana Lachrimae
The widespread dissemination of this piece is unsurprising for two reasons; firstly, Dowland travelled extensively as one of the most sought-after lute virtuosi of his age, holding various posts in Germany and Denmark and, secondly, the vogue for English dance music spread rapidly throughout the German-speaking courts of Northern Europe during the later years of the sixteenth century. The aim of this study, then, is to collate as much of this material as possible and present some preliminary hypotheses regarding in particular the transmission of this piece across mainland Europe. These can be subdivided according to their tonality and warrant a brief summary. Although it is by no means a certainty, there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that a G minor setting preserved in a number of English manuscript sources may have originally emanated from Dowland himself. The earliest sources for this setting are Dd.
Lachrimae Pavan for Lute (Dowland, John)