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Thomas Campion

Biography

Born: February 12, 1567; London, England   Died: March 1, 1620; London, England  
With John Dowland (ca. 1563-1626), Campion was one of the most prolific composers of English lute songs, or Ayres. A true "renaissance man," Campion also wrote masques for court performances, a critique of English poetry and, in 1613, a treatise on counterpoint. He was also a trained physician. His works were widely disseminated; the best of them demonstrate a capacity for elegant melodic lines that perfectly matches the rhythm of English verse. Read more Unlike most composers of songs, he wrote all of the poems he set to music himself.

Campion's father, John, was a cursitor of the Chancery Court; his mother, Lucy, had a significant sum of money from her previous marriage. On February 12, 1567, Thomas Campion was baptized at the church of St. Andrew, Holborn. Campion left home in 1581, matriculating at Peterhouse, Cambridge, but never completing a degree. In 1586 he entered Gray's Inn, one of the Inns of Court at which young noblemen learned "the ropes" of court life. There he established contacts with potential patrons, in part through his participation in performances of masques attended by members of the nobility, including Queen Elizabeth.

By the early 1590s Campion had become known as a poet; in 1595 he published a book of Latin poems that was particularly well received. His first collection of songs came six years later (1601) as part of Philip Rosseter's A Book of Ayres, the second half of which featured songs by Rosseter. In 1602 Campion's Observations on the Art of English Poesie appeared, in which he discussed rhyme, the structure of poetry, and the proper meters to use when setting English; his skillful setting of English texts is, arguably, the most impressive aspect of his music. For the next decade, Campion concentrated on the contribution of music to masques, including two printed as The Lords Maske, written in 1613. Unfortunately, only the texts of these works survive.

Campion studied medicine at the University of Caen, earning his M.D. on February 10, 1605. This did not derail his compositional activities, however: he composed masques for performance at the court of James I, and his Two Bookes of Ayres was published ca. 1614. A year later he was accused of participating in the plot to murder Sir Thomas Overby by the Earl and Countess of Somerset; however, Campion's name was eventually cleared. The Third and Fourth Booke of Ayres appeared in either 1617 or 1618, and Campion's last published work, Tho. Campiani epigrammatum libi II, was printed in 1619.

All of Campion's Ayres were for solo voice with lute accompaniment; however, many of the songs were printed with the parts for alto, tenor, and bass extracted from the lute texture. His attention to proper text setting of each verse of a poem is remarkable. Although he generally avoided superficial word-painting, he was not above the occasional illustrative passage. For example, in "Mistris since you so much desire," Campion sets the line, "but a little higher," four times in succession, each statement a step higher than the previous. His strict adherence to the rules of four-part counterpoint laid out in his treatise lends a measure of predictability to some of his Ayres, but the best examples show a composer capable of exquisite melodic tailoring, skillful contrapuntal writing, and technical mastery of the lute. Read less
Campion: Move Now With Measured Sound / Miller, Blaze, Et Al
Release Date: 12/11/2001   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67268   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 73 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Maynard: The XII Wonders of the World; Campion, Hume, Ravescroft, Parsons: Character Songs
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002069502 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Thomas Ravenscroft,  Tobias Hume,  John Maynard  ... 
    Performer:  John York Skinner,  Anthony Rooley,  Emma Kirkby,  Martyn Hill  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of Musicke
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  • 2.
    Time Stands Still: Elizabethan & Jacobean Songs And Keyboard Music
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6255 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  John Dowland,  Philip Rosseter,  Thomas Campion  ... 
    Performer:  David Ponsford,  Simon Ponsford
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  • 3.
    Remember Me My Deir: Jacobean Songs Of Love And Loss
    Label: Delphian   Catalog: 34129 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Anonymous,  Francis Pilkington,  John Johnson  ... 
    Performer:  Frances Cooper,  Jonathan Hugh-Jones
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fires of Love
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  • 4.
    Das Alte Werk - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Jeannette Van Wingerden  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Werner Ehrhardt,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Leonhardt Consort,  Studio for Early Music  ... 
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  • 5.
    Julian Bream - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 546242 Release Date: 10/15/2013   Number of Discs: 42
    Composer:  Girolamo Frescobaldi,  Mateo Pérez de Albeniz,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Domenico Cimarosa  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Bream,  Peter Pears,  George Malcolm,  John Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Arnold,  Sir Colin Davis,  André Previn,  David Atherton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London,  Julian Bream Consort,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    A Noble Noyse Of Musicke: Vocal & Instrumental Master Works Of The English Renaissance
    Label: Lindoro   Catalog: 118 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Redford,  Richard Allison,  John Coprario,  John Danyel  ... 
    Performer:  Matthias Havinga,  Christopher Field,  Johann Christian Hoffmann,  Paul Leenhouts
    Conductor:  Paul Leenhouts
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Wind Music
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  • 7.
    Time Stands Still / Emma Kirby, Anthony Rooley
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55462 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Campion,  John Danyel,  John Dowland,  Thomas Ford  ... 
    Performer:  Emma Kirkby,  Anthony Rooley
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  • 8.
    Dame Janet Baker - The Great EMI Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 37712 Release Date: 06/18/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Alessandro Scarlatti,  Henry Lawes  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Kenneth Heath,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Sir John Barbirolli,  André Previn,  Sir Alexander Gibson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 9.
    Celebration Music For The Marriage Of Prince Elector Frederick V To Elizabeth Stuart
    Label: Christophorus   Catalog: 77371 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Coprario,  Anonymous,  Robert Johnson,  William Byrd  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Ciarlatani
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  • 10.
    Label: Christophorus   Catalog: 1842 Release Date: 03/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Oswald von Wolkenstein,  Michel Beheim,  Erasmus Lapicida,  Arnolt Schlick  ... 
    Performer:  Johannes Vogt,  Armin Gottstein,  Russ Hodge,  Petra Manz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Ciarlatani
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  • 11.
    The Voice Of Peter Pears
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1393 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Ford,  John Dowland,  Thomas Morley,  Philip Rosseter  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Bream,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
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  • 12.
    Label: Nightwatch   Catalog: 5637423671 Release Date: 08/23/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Girolamo Frescobaldi,  Pierre Guédron,  Josquin Des Préz,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Owain Phyfe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Ensemble Josquin
    CD: $26.99
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  • 13.
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 224 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Ford,  Philip Rosseter,  John Dowland,  Thomas Morley  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Bream,  Peter Pears,  Benjamin Britten
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  • 14.
    Reflection: Choral Music From Clare College Cambridge
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 212 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Attwood,  Thomas Tallis,  Sir Edward Elgar,  John Hilton  ... 
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  • 15.
    Tears Of Joy: English Lute Songs & Consort Music / Zefiro Torna
    Label: Etcetera Records   Catalog: 4038 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  John Bartlet,  Andrea Gabrieli,  Henry Lawes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna
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  • 16.
    Tune thy Musicke to thy Hart / Stile Antico
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807554 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins,  John Amner,  John Taverner,  Robert Ramsey  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stile Antico,  Fretwork
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  • 17.
    A Feast For The Senses  / Tenet
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637840816 Release Date: 10/23/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Thomas Campion,  Traditional,  Robert Ballard  ... 
    Performer:  Philip Anderson,  Hank Heijink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tenet
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  • 18.
    The Voice, Vol. 2 / Andreas Scholl
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908458 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Oswald von Wolkenstein,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Andreas Scholl,  Marcel Ponseele,  Markus Märkl,  Hélène Guilmette  ... 
    Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe,  Ottavio Dantone,  Crawford Young
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale Orchestra,  Accademia Bizantina Orchestra,  Shield of Harmony
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  • 19.
    Alas Poore Men
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 98911 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Ballet,  William Corkine,  Thomas Campion,  Tobias Hume  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Dickie
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Unidas
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  • 20.
    Lunarcy: Songs Of Madness And The Moon
    Label: Evil Penguin Records   Catalog: 10 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Herbert Howells,  Henry Purcell,  Thomas Campion,  Giovanni Kapsberger  ... 
    Performer:  Lawrence Zazzo,  Shizuko Noiri
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  • 21.
    Psaumes De La Reforme
    Label: Hortus   Catalog: 64 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Samuel Mareschall,  Claude Goudimel,  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Meylan
    Conductor:  Daniel Meylan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Camerata Baroque
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  • 22.
    Mistress Elizabeth Davenant, Her Songes
    Label: Ramee   Catalog: 1101 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Robert Johnson,  Spoken Word,  Thomas Campion  ... 
    Performer:  Sofie Vanden Eynde,  Rebecca Ockenden
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  • 23.
    Songs of an English Cavalier / Rensburg, Katschner, Lautten Compagney
    Label: Nca   Catalog: 60220 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Hume,  Thomas Campion,  William Byrd,  John Blow  ... 
    Performer:  Kobie van Rensburg
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Katschner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lautten Compagney
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  • 24.
    Down Through The Winters / Christmas Revels
    Label: Revels Records   Catalog: 2110 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Gabrieli,  Anonymous,  Guillaume de Machaut,  Thomas Ravenscroft  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Portland Brass Quintet,  Christmas Revels
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  • 25.
    Ravish'd With Sacred Extasies - Devotional Songs
    Label: Coro   Catalog: 16081 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Thomas Campion,  Pelham Humfrey,  John Lawrence  ... 
    Performer:  Elin Manahan Thomas,  David Miller
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