Though now considered to be among the foremost English composers of lute music and songs, little is known of the early life of John Dowland (1563 - February 20, 1626). He may have been born in London, and though early on his reputation seemed to be growing in England, he failed to secure a position at the court of Elisabeth I, and so eventually was offered a lurative position at the court of Christian IV of Denmark. Though Dowland returned to England in 1606 and in early 1612 was offered a post at the court of James I, there are few extent compositions from this last phase of his life.
Most of Dowland's works were written for his own instrument, the lute, including books of solo lute works, lute songs, part-songs with lute accompaniment, and several pieces for viol consort with lute. Two of his better known works are the lute song "Flow my tears," and the incomparable Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares, a set of seven pavans for viol and lute consort. Filled with extraordinary melancholy and a sense of loss and longing Dowland's music reflects the musical tastes of his day.