Henry Lawes (1595-1662) might win the competition for the most important composer you’ve never heard of. During his life, and for a few decades after his death, he was universally recognized as England’s greatest songwriter. The texts he set range from the humorous (Cupid stung by a bee) to the tragic (Ariadne’s lament) to the downright silly (Upon a mole in Celia’s Bosom). He was praised by many poets of his day, including John Milton, for the care he took in setting text to music. Like the early-seventeenth-century Italians who inspired him, he firmly believed that the text was the master of the music and not the other way around. In this concert we present a full program of his works, ranging from the silliest to the more serious songs, and hope to prove that this often-forgotten composer deserves to be more frequently heard.
Agnes Coakley Cox, soprano
Nathaniel Cox, lute
Works drawn from:
British Library Add. MS. 53723 (Henry Lawes' autograph)
The First, Second, and Third Books of Ayres (1653, 1655, 1658)
The Treasury of Musick (1669)