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  John Dowland
Date of Born: : 1563
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Born in 1563 John Dowland was almost exactly contemporary with Sweelinck and Shakespeare. Of his origins and early beginnings as a musician nothing is known. As an adoloscent he was 'servant' to the ambassadors of England to the court of France, spending over four years in Paris between 1580 and 1586.

During this stay - which must have greatly contributed to raising his social status and orienting his musical evolution - Dowland was converted to Catholicism under the influence of the English emigrants.

Back in England, he got married and in 1588 was admitted to his degree of Bachelor of Music from Christ Church, Oxford, on the same day as Thomas Morley.

His increasing renown as composer and performer, however, did not win him Elizabeth's confidence; so in 1594, after vainly seeking a post as court lutenist, he left for a long journey which was to take him to Rome with the intention of taking lessons with the famed Luca Marenzio.

The following year he boasted the title of Bacheler of Musick in both the Vniuersities, i.e. , Oxford and Cambridge, the first to have delivered this degree right from the late XVth century ; he also published his first book of Ayres for voice and lute, thus initiating a genre in which England was to excell for a quarter of a century. Six editions in succession testify to the renown then enjoyed by the composer.

In 1608, after spending one third of his life abroad, he returned to his native land, only to find - not without bitterness - that the court was indifferent to his music.

He then applied himself to translating the Micrologus, an alredy ancient treatise by the German theorist Andreas Ornithoparcu, collaborated on the editions of the Varietie of Lute-Lessons and of the Musicall Banquet brought out by his son Robert in 1610.

In 1612 he published a fourth and last collection of works for voice and lute, under the significant title : A Pilgrimes Solace. A much belated and meagre consolation indeed was his appointment this year as one of the King's Lutes. At the age of fifty, " being now gray and like the Swan, but singing towards his end ", he wore out his last creative forces in the composing of some short devotional works.



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