Dowland, John

1562 - 1626

English composer, singer and lutenist who wrote about 90 works for the Renaissance lute, several psalm harmonizations, and many sacred songs.

From 1580 to 1584 Dowland was in service of the British Ambassador to Paris where he became Lutenist at courts at Brunswick, Hesse, Venice, Florence, and Nuremberg.

Lutenist to King of Denmark 1598-1606. Returned to London 1606; lutenist to Lord Howard de Walden 1606-12; musician to James I 1612.

Though noted in his day as a virtuoso lutenist and singer, he is now recognized as a great composer, whose songs melodically and harmonically advanced the "art song".

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Purcell, Henry

1659 - 1695

Purcell is the most important English composer of the early Baroque.

He spent his entire career in various capacities as a musician in the English royal court. In 1677, he was appointed a composer to the king. A series of other court appointments finally led to his taking the position of organist at Westminster Abbey in 1679, and in 1682 he was appointed organist to the Chapel Royal.

Purcell wrote the first important English opera "Dido and Aeneas". "Dido's Lament" is one of the most beautiful songs of sorrow in opera.

He is best known for his dramatic works, including songs and instrumental music for some forty plays, but he also wrote more than fifty anthems and numerous other sacred pieces and songs.