One of the few English musicians whose fame as a composer spread throughout Europe during his lifetime, John Dowland (1563–1626) was also unsurpassed in his day as a lute virtuoso. The composer of 88 lute songs, Dowland had twice applied for the position of lutenist at the court of Elizabeth I and was rejected both times — for religious reasons, it was thought. (He had converted to Catholicism during a Protestant reign.) His talents, however, were welcomed at courts in Germany, Venice, Florence, and Denmark. Since the early 20th century, Dowland's excellence as a song writer has been well established; and many of his compositions for lute — long shrouded in obscurity — have become well known.
This collection of 45 songs includes all the works in his original Third Booke of Songs or Aires; in A Pilgrime's Solace (his fourth collection); three contributions to his son Robert's A Musicall Banquet; plus a lovely galliard — a dance for solo guitar.
Together with Nadal's Lute Songs of John Dowland (First and Second Books), published in 1997, this compilation completes Dover's newly edited and engraved editions of Dowland's lute songs — a rich oeuvre sure to be studied and enjoyed by singers, guitarists, and music lovers alike.