1583 - 1633
composed during the Renaissance period
Robert Jones was an English composer active in the early-17th century known for his lute-songs and madrigals. Although he was chided for the lute writing and unimaginative harmonies in some of his works, as well as for his less adventurous style in general, he was nevertheless effective in his simpler songs, not least because of his melodic talent.
Nothing is known of Jones' early years, though he suggested in an introductory note to his first song collection, The First Booke of Songes and Ayres of Foure Parts (1600), that he had developed his ability to speak at the same time he was learning to sing. It is thus quite likely he served as a choirboy in his childhood.
In 1597 Jones graduated from Oxford with a Bachelor's degree in music, and was probably by then already composing his first songs. His second song collection, The Second Booke of Songs and Ayres, appeared in 1601, with three further volumes following in the years 1605 (Ultimum vale), 1609 (A Musicall Dreame) and 1610 (The Muses Gardin for Delights). In the middle of this series Jones produced his only volume of madrigals, The First Set of Madrigals (1607). Each of the five volumes of lute-songs contained 21 songs, while madrigal collection contained 26.
In 1609 Jones became involved in an enterprise with lute-song composer Philip Rosseter and several others to manage a group of child actors. The company was called Children of the Revells of the Queene and their performances took place at the Whitefriars Playhouse until 1614, when a building lease expired. A plan to stage future performances in a nearly completed new building fell through in 1616. This pursuit may have diverted Jones from composition, since there are no surviving works after 1610.
After about 1617, Jones' activities are unknown and he may have lived only a short while thereafter. It should be noted that his output also contains a small number of anthems and other vocal works and at least one madrigal that Jones contributed to the 1601 collection, The Triumphes of Oriana. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi