John Dowland the Composer

By Jon Donahue


John Dowland was born in 1563 in Dublin, Ireland. He ended up traveling a lot, but settled mostly in the UK. How he was trained in musical arts in his early life is unknown but from 1580-1584 he was a musician to Sir Henry Cobham (who was also a patron to Dowland) and Sir Edward Stafford.In 1588 he got his bachelor of arts degree from Christ Church Oxford and another degree from Cambridge. During his life he converted to Roman Catholicism while in Paris. Dowland composed songs and is recognized for his four books of lute songs. Some songs that are contained in these books are "Come again, sweet love", "Lady if you so spite me", and "Flow my tears".

Evan Marie

John Dowland - Flow My Tears - Evan Marie (lute and voice) by Evan Marie

Flow My Tears- John Dowland

Written along the Lachrimae in 1604 this is one of Dowland's most popular songs ever that influenced many composers into the 17th century. The melody was light and slightly melancholy that made it a masterpiece in its own time. I find it interesting because many people today still know of it well like Evan Marie who even did a cover on it. His greatest song has been living for so long and is still living. Authors such as Peter Holman have written about the Lachrimae (the Lachrimae would be the name of what we the album or Ep. it belongs to) including Flow My Tears. I think that this piece of art is a renaissance piece because it ties in with humanism. The song was extremely popular and influences multiple composers without it being tied to religion.


Peter Warlock, The English Ayre (1926), discusses Dowland. Background material can be found in Paul Henry Lang, Music in Western Civilization (1941); Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance (1954; rev. ed. 1959); Jack A. Westrup, An Introduction to Musical History (1955); and Donald J. Grout, A History of Western Music (1960).

"Lachrimae (song by Dowland)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

"John Dowland." HOASM:. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

"Dowland Lachrimae 1604 :: Seventeenth-century Music :: Cambridge University Press."Dowland Lachrimae 1604 :: Seventeenth-century Music :: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.