Vivaldi Street Performance

Baroque Music in England

Italian & French styles were the most predominant musical, artistic and architectural styles in Europe in the 17thc. England was still more heavily influenced by the arts of the Elizabethan age rather than by innovations in Europe. Since Henry VIII broke from the *Church of Rome and established the protestant ‘Church of England, all things ‘Catholic’ became suspect, including ‘Popish’ arts. Following his return from a tour of Italy in 1615, the English architect, Inigo Jones designed the first Palladian building in England the following year (The Queens’s House, Greenwich) However this new ‘classical’ style did not become popular in England (or the English colonies, including America), until more than a century later. With the arrival of Handel in England, and visits from a number of his Italian contemporaries in the early 18thc., ‘English’ music became better established as a style.

Early 17thc.

John Dowland was the best known and most influential composer, court musician, and lutenist in late 16thc. and early 17thc. England. His best known works are melancholy songs (Lachrimae) with lute accompaniment; the best known being Flow my Tears. While mostly Elizabethan ensembles, ‘Consorts’ of viols (treble, tenor & bass instruments), and mixed Consorts (a varied combination of viols, the occasional violin, recorder and other wind instruments) were still a popular form of domestic, rather than court, music making in early 17thc England. Compositions for viol consorts included works by Dowland.

Flow my Tears, Second Book of Songs or Ayres, London, 1600.
John Dowland: Flow my tears (Lachrimae); Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist, soprano & David Tayler, flute

Lachrimae Antiquae, The Earl of Essex Galliard, and Mistress Nichol’s Almand:

Can She excuse my wrongs:

The King of Denmark’s Galliard:


In 1604, King James I of England wrote a long polemic concerning tobacco, newly discovered in America: A Counterblaste to Tobacco, in which he expresses his distaste/abhorrence for smoking tobacco. It is one of the earliest anti-tobacco publications. A year later, the English composer and viol player Captain Tobias Hume wrote a song extolling the virtues of tobacco.

Tobacco is like Love;

Tobacco’s but an Indian Weed:

A Counterblaste to Tobacco, 1604 (full text for anyone with a special interest):


Man Smoking a Pipe, early 17thc. England

Woman Smoking a Pipe, Gabriel Metsu, Holland, 1660:

Bass Violin Player, Studio of Judith Leyster, Haarlem, Holland, c.1635.

Company Dining & Making Music, Anthonie Palamedesz, Amsterdam, 1632.

Bass Violin Player, Studio of Judith Leyster, Haarlem, Holland, c.1635.

-Richard Webb