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John Johnson

composed during the Renaissance period
John Johnson was one of the most important English composers and performers of lute music from the Renaissance era. His music mixed Italianate and English elements to yield an individual style, especially inventive in the realm of variation. Many regard him as the founder of the English school of lute music, even though John Dowland would surpass him. Johnson was also the father of composer and lutenist Robert Johnson.



There are few details known about John Johnson's early years. He must have developed a talent on the lute in his early childhood: a 16th century document dealing with composer/lutenist Daniel Bachelar (born, c. 1574) indicates that at the age of seven Johnson became an apprentice to a professional lutenist. The two probably served in the house of a nobleman or wealthy patron.



In 1579 Johnson secured the highly-coveted post of one of three lutenists to Queen Elizabeth. The other two were Mathias Mason and Thomas Cardell, respected musicians both. Though the number of royal lutenists would often swell to a half-dozen or more, Johnson would come to be the Queen's favorite among them.



He apparently wrote music throughout most of his adult years, typically scoring his works for solo lute or lute duet in the form of pavanes or galliards, or as arrangements of popular tunes or folk tunes. A pair of ballads appearing in 1588 used the music from two of Johnson's works, Flat Pavane and The Medley. This would suggest that Johnson's two pieces had already become popular with the public, their music, then, likely dating back to the 1570s or even 1560s. Numerous other compositions by Johnson were arranged by his contemporaries and by younger composers: Giles Farnaby (c. 1565-1640), for example, made a brilliant keyboard arrangement of Flat Pavane.



Johnson remained in the service of Queen Elizabeth until his death in 1594. He was well-liked and apparently quite content in his post as a royal lutenist: indeed, there is no evidence he ever left his homeland. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: John Johnson: Lute Music

Title: Delight Pavan For Lute

1. Delight Pavan For Lute: The Delight Pavan

Title: Galliard To Delight For Lute

2. Galliard To Delight For Lute: Galliard To The Deligh Pavan

Title: Carman's Whistle, For Lute

3. Carman's Whistle, For Lute: Carman's Whistle

Title: Short Almain For 2 Lutes

4. Short Almain For 2 Lutes: Short Almaine

Title: Work(s)

5. Work(s): "Queen's Treble": Dump

Title: Rogero, For 2 Lutes

6. Rogero, For 2 Lutes: Rogero

Title: Pavan, For Lute

7. Pavan, For Lute: Pavan

Title: Piece Without Title (Galliard), For Lute

8. Piece Without Title (Galliard), For Lute: Galliard

Title: Omnino Galliard, For Lute

9. Omnino Galliard, For Lute: Omnino Galliard

Title: Almaine, For Lute

10. Almaine, For Lute: Almaine

Title: Johnson's Jewel, Galliard For Lute

11. Johnson's Jewel, Galliard For Lute: Johnson's Jewel

Title: Quadro Paven

12. Quadro Paven: Quadro Pavan

Title: Work(s)

13. Work(s): Galliard

Title: Chi Passa, For 2 Lutes

14. Chi Passa, For 2 Lutes: Chi Passa

Title: La Vecchia Pavan & Galliard, For 2 Lutes

15. La Vecchia Pavan & Galliard, For 2 Lutes: La Vecchia Pavan

16. La Vecchia Pavan & Galliard, For 2 Lutes: Galliard To La Vecchia Pavan

Title: The Marigold Pavan, For Lute

17. The Marigold Pavan, For Lute: The Marigold Pavan

Title: Work(s)

18. Work(s): Galliard

Title: Johnson's Grounde

19. Johnson's Grounde: A Ground

Title: Flat Pavan And Galliard For 2 Lutes

20. Flat Pavan And Galliard For 2 Lutes: Flat Pavan

21. Flat Pavan And Galliard For 2 Lutes: The Galliard To The Flat Pavan

Title: Work(s)

22. Work(s): "Queen's Treble": Dump

Title: Passingmeasures Pavin

23. Passingmeasures Pavin: Passing Measures Pavan

Title: Walsingham, For Lute

24. Walsingham, For Lute: Walsingham

Title: Goodnight, For 2 Lutes

25. Goodnight, For 2 Lutes: Goodnight

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