William Lawes

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Born: May 1, 1602; Salisbury, Wiltshire, England   Died: September 24, 1645; Chester, England  
William Lawes, son of a lay vicar at Salisbury Cathedral, showed (like his older brother Henry Lawes) musical promise at any early age. He found an early patron in Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, who brought the young chorister to his Wiltshire estates to study music with his private music master, the renowned John Coprario. William likely met the future King Charles I (r. 1625-1649) through Coprario. William and his brother were both named Read more musicians "in ordinary for the lutes and voices" for Charles' court; the honor came to William in 1635, though it appears he was composing personally for the King at least as early as 1633. While in Charles' service, Lawes contributed vocal and instrumental music to the life of the court, as well as music for the Masques popular in Caroline England. William Lawes went with the King to Oxford in 1642 and enlisted in the royalist army (a portrait in Oxford depicts him in Cavalier garb). Though for his safety Lawes was made a commissary in the King's personal guard, he suffered a fatal gunshot wound while relieving the siege of Chester in 1645. King Charles reputedly mourned for Lawes as the "Father of Musick."

Though none of William Lawes' music appeared in print during his lifetime, his brother released certain of his psalm settings and sacred canons in the Choice Psalms of 1648, and the influential published collections of John Playford beginning around 1650 furthered both the dissemination and popularity of his music. He wrote prolifically and idiomatically for the consort of viols. His suites and fantasias meld the fluidity of late Renaissance counterpoint with the more "mannered" chromatic colors of the late madrigal; he did in fact know some of the works of Marenzio and Monteverdi. His other chamber music (especially involving violins), on the other hand, displays an early Baroque idiom of paired strings and basso continuo. Some scholars of his music speculate that this Italian style reached him though Coprario's tutelage.

Despite his large instrumental output, and an even greater number of secular songs and Anglican anthems surviving from his pen, William's greatest legacy may have been his dramatic music. Between the years 1633 and 1641, he contributed music to at least 25 courtly Masques and other dramatic productions. The English courtly Masque at this time comprised a composite art form with music, dance, drama, and scenery, comparable to the Lullian Ballet de cour in France. Early in the century, Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones were leading collaborators in the Masque. The genre climaxed in the spectacular Triumph of Peace (1634) by James Shirley, to which William Lawes contributed music. His achievement in stage music made possible the later work of Matthew Locke, John Blow, and eventually Henry Purcell himself. Read less
Browse 26-38 of 38 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Harmonie Universelle Vol 2 - Jordi Savall, La Capella Reial
    Label: Alia Vox   Catalog: 9839 Release Date: 01/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Arvo Pärt,  Jordi Savall,  Arianna Savall  ... 
    Performer:  Jordi Savall,  Pablo Valetti,  Manfred Kraemer,  Arianna Savall  ... 
    Conductor:  Jordi Savall
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert des Nations,  Hespčrion XXI,  La Capella Reial de Catalunya
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  • 27.
    Rubens: Music Of His Time
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558067 Release Date: 03/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  William Lawes,  Orlando Gibbons,  John Bull  ... 
    Performer:  Jacob Heringman,  Timothy Roberts,  Joseph Payne
    Conductor:  Sergio Vartolo,  Jeremy Summerly,  Andreas Edlund,  Sven Berger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Musicale di San Petronio,  Rose Consort of Viols,  Oxford Camerata  ... 
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  • 28.
    Music For A Great Garden - Byrd, Mozart, Et Al / Stowe, Souter, Et Al
    Label: Gift Of Music   Catalog: 1097 Release Date: 01/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Robert Johnson,  Traditional,  Hildegard of Bingen  ... 
    Performer:  Sara Stowe,  Matthew Spring,  Martin Souter,  Sarah Hill
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford Girls' Choir
    CD: $17.99
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  • 29.
    English Chamber Music of the 17th Century
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 499762 Release Date: 04/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Baltzar,  Johann Schop,  Nicola Matteis,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Stubbs,  Andrew Lawrence-King
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sonnerie Trio
    CD: $8.99
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  • 30.
    Lawes: Consort Sets In Five & Six Parts / Savall, Hespčrion
    Label: Alia Vox   Catalog: 9823 Release Date: 08/13/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  William Lawes
    Conductor:  Jordi Savall
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hespčrion XXI
    CD: $47.99
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  • 31.
    Lawes: Consorts In Six Parts / Phantasm
    Label: Channel Classics   Catalog: 17498 Release Date: 06/11/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Lawes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm
    CD: $20.99
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  • 32.
    Charivari Agréable - Two Upon A Ground
    Label: Accent   Catalog: 7 Release Date: 01/25/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christopher Simpson,  Thomas Tomkins,  Gottfried Finger,  John Jenkins  ... 
    Performer:  Susanna Pell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Charivari Agréable
    CD: $17.99
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  • 33.
    Lawes: Fantazia Suites / Music's Re-creation
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2385 Release Date: 11/01/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Lawes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Music's Recreation Baroque
    CD: $17.99
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  • 34.
    Lawes: Consort Music For Viols, Lutes And Theorbos
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550601 Release Date: 02/20/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Lawes
    Performer:  David Miller,  Jacob Heringman,  Timothy Roberts
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rose Consort of Viols
    CD: $9.99
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  • 35.
    Albéniz, Piazzolla, Etc / The Danish Guitar Duo
    Label: Point Classics   Catalog: 5107 Release Date: 12/15/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Lawes,  Thomas Ford,  Ferdinando Carulli
    Performer:  Morten Skott,  Soren Bodker Madsen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Guitar Duo
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    CD: $21.99
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  • 36.
    The English Viol - Byrd, Dowland, Gibbons, Lawes, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics Special Import   Catalog: 61173 Release Date: 03/14/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfonso Ferrabosco,  Henry Purcell,  Matthew Locke,  William Lawes  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Boothby,  Julia Hodgson,  Sarah Groser,  William Hunt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Red Byrd
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  • 37.
    English National Songs- From Greensleeves To Home Sweet Home
    Label: Saydisc   Catalog: 400 Release Date: 01/19/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Henry Bishop,  William Hawes,  Charles Dibdin  ... 
    Performer:  Lucie Skeaping,  John Potter
    Conductor:  Jeremy Barlow
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Broadside Band
    CD: $18.99
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  • 38.
    Together / Julian Bream, John Williams
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61450 Release Date: 05/25/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel,  Manuel de Falla,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Julian Bream
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