Thomas Campion


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
Early Music - Campion: Lute Songs / Rickards, Linell
Release Date: 06/01/1999   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8553380   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 68 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Died for Love / Sanchez, Schuettm
    Label: Soundset   Catalog: 1085 Release Date: 08/08/2017  
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Thomas Campion,  John Whitfield,  Richard Allison  ... 
    Performer:  Kayleen Sanchez,  Laudon Schuettm
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  • 2.
    Brian Asawa: The Complete RCA Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985386972 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Thomas Campion,  John Dowland  ... 
    Performer:  David Tayler,  Brian Asawa,  Lisa Milne,  Susan Bickley  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Nicholas McGegan,  Jeffrey Kahane
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Hanover Band,  Hanover Band Chorus  ... 
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  • 3.
    The Sound of Shakespeare
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 555057 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Edmund Kete,  Traditional,  Robert Johnson  ... 
    Performer:  David Douglass,  Paul O'Dette,  Emily van Evera,  Lyle Nordstrom  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Hillier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
    CD: $15.99
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  • 4.
    John Williams: The Complete Columbia Album Collection [58 CD + 1 DVD]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 309294 Release Date: 03/04/2016   Number of Discs: 59
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Isaac Albeniz,  Francisco Tarrega,  Joaquin Turina  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Julian Bream,  Carlos Bonell,  Brian Gascoigne  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves,  Daniel Barenboim,  John Williams,  Louis Frémaux  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Sinfonietta,  String Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Amores Pasados / John Potter
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 002344502 Release Date: 07/17/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Paul Jones,  Peter Warlock,  Ernest John Moeran,  Sting  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Maria Friman,  John Potter,  Ariel Abramovich,  Jacob Heringman
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  • 6.
    Flow My Tears - Songs for Lute, Viol & Voice / Iestyn Davies
    Label: Wigmore Hall Live   Catalog: 74 Release Date: 03/17/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Johnson,  John Dowland,  John Danyel,  Thomas Campion  ... 
    Performer:  Iestyn Davies,  Thomas Dunford,  Jonathan Manson
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  • 7.
    Emma Kirby - The Complete Recitals [12-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002268802 Release Date: 03/03/2015   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Richard Edwards,  Thomas Campion,  John Dowland,  John Danyel  ... 
    Performer:  Emma Kirkby,  Anthony Rooley,  David Thomas,  Trevor [viola da gamba] Jones  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Consort of Musicke,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 8.
    Love I Obey / Rosemary Standley
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 538 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Lawes,  Traditional,  King of England Henry VIII,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Bruno Helstroffer,  Rosemary Standley,  Élisabeth Geiger,  Martin Bauer  ... 
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  • 9.
    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,  Tobias Hume,  John Maynard,  Thomas Campion  ... 
    Performer:  John York Skinner,  Anthony Rooley,  Emma Kirkby,  Martyn Hill  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of Musicke
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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    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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  • 12.
    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  ... 
    CD: $230.49
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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    Label: Christophorus   Catalog: 1842 Release Date: 03/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Oswald von Wolkenstein,  Michel Beheim,  Erasmus Lapicida,  Arnolt Schlick  ... 
    Performer:  Russ Hodge,  Armin Gottstein,  Johannes Vogt,  Michael [Viola da gamba] Spengler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Ciarlatani
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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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
    SuperAudio CD: $18.99
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    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,  Hélčne Guilmette  ... 
    Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe,  Ottavio Dantone,  Crawford Young
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale Orchestra,  Accademia Bizantina,  Shield of Harmony
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  • 23.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    Mistress Elizabeth Davenant, Her Songes
    Label: Ramee   Catalog: 1101 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Robert Johnson,  Thomas Campion,  John Wilson  ... 
    Performer:  Rebecca Ockenden,  Sofie Vanden Eynde
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