William Lawes

William Lawes


Portrait of William Lawes, artist unknown

William Lawes (1602-1645) came from a musical family: his father was the vicar choral, or lead liturgical singer, at the great cathedral of Salisbury, and his brother, Henry, was a very successful composer whose works today, especially his setting of Waller's Go, Lovely Rose, are better known than William's.  But to me, William seems the better and more interesting composer:  his works to my ear are startlingly modern in their deliberate dissonances and the surprising paths he sometimes sends his melodies down.  He enjoyed the patronage of Charles I -- he was, as is evident from his portrait, a Cavalier -- and died in the Civil War.

An excellent performance of his work is available in this recording by Jordi Savall: 




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