Dowland’s Lachrimae

John Dowland, the finest lutenist of his generation and one of England’s greatest composers, was born 450 years ago in 1563. In 1604 he published the extraordinary collection of music for viols and lute called ‘Lachrimae’. Before a series of wonderfully lively galliards, many drawn from his songs, Dowland presents a transcendental journey through seven pavans based on his most famous song, ‘Flow my teares’. The falling 4th emblem is subjected to intense scrutiny and transformation, with a sequence that maps a voyage from despair to hope, from falling to rising, from minor to major.

As Dowland says in his dedication to Queen Anne of Denmark:

And though the title doth promise teares, unfit guests in these ioyfull times, yet no doubt pleasant are the teares which Musicke weepes, neither are teares shed alwayes in sorrow, but sometime in ioy and gladnesse.

Adrian Williams wrote Teares to Dreams in 2004 for the Cheltenham Festival. It is a beautiful and poignant reflection on Dowland’s pavans, employing the same forces, yet bringing a contemporary sensibility to the 17th century form.


John Dowland 1563 – 1626

Lachrimæ or seaven teares figured in seaven passionate pavans, with divers other pavans, galiards and allemandes, set forth for the lute, viols, or violons, in five parts.

The King of Denmark’s Galiard
The Earle of Essex’s Galiard
M John Langton’s Pavan

Sir John Souch his Galiard
Captaine Piper his Galiard

Piper’s Pavan for lute solo

M Henry Noell his Galiard
M Giles Hoby his Galiard

Sir Henry Umpton’s Funerall

Mrs Nichols Almand
Nicho. Gryffith his Galiard

Fantasia in G for lute solo

M. George Whitehead his Almand
M. Bucton his Galiard
Semper Dowland semper Dolens


Adrian Williams Teares to Dreams (2004)

John Dowland
Lachrimæ Antiquæ
Lachrimæ Antiquæ Novæ
Lachrimæ Gementes
Lachrimæ Tristes
Lachrimæ Coactæ
Lachrimæ Amantis
Lachrimæ Veræ