Under Construction. - On this slight update here on September 12, 2016, I worry it could be the last as I am forced to change servers.
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This is an unfinished page that I hope to edit sometime in the future.
John Dowland and Philip Rosseter
Dowland brought a lawsuit against the publishers of his Second Book (published in 1600). Rosseter testified at this trial as a friend of Dowland who helped Dowland's wife with some of the work in getting the Booke published.
We have Rosseter's signature and we know his age because of this. I have posted a copy of this signature on ' The Philip Rosseter and Robert Jones Web Site's main page '.
John Dowland and Philip Rosseter lived on the same block in London. Their back yards met each other so that the Dowlands could have visited the Rosseters by just stepping off their garden.
John Dowland and William Shakespeare
Dowland held a post at the Danish court from November 1598 to 1606, I think, with a one year break in England in 1603-04. It is not known whether he spent all this time in Denmark or if he went back and forth to England or did other travels.
William Shakespeare wrote a play called "Hamlet" which was set in Denmark. It may have been written around 1601. I believe that one of the most famous lines in the play is "Something is rotten in Denmark" and it seems as if Dowland did have a rotten time in Denmark.
Did Shakespeare learn anything about Denmark from talking to John Dowland? - that is the question!
Spending much time in Denmark (and doing other traveling) John Dowland missed out on being in Shakespearian London where it seems that may have been Robert Jones was there more. We do not have enough information to know much about where these people were at what times
We do not know whether or not any of the lyrics set by Dowland were written by Shakespeare. Dowland set some of the finest English lyrics of his day but I do not hear anyone saying "Hey, these lyrics are the words of Shakespeare!".
I hope we can find a little more evidence to bring to light any relationship between England's greatest playwright and England's greatest lutenist. - others may have a better understanding, of this than me so, if you do know better, please let me know.
John Dowland and Robert Jones
In concentrating on studying Robert Jones I sometimes forget how parallel the paths of these two musician were. Dowland published the first book of lute songs in 1597 and Jones published his first book in 1600 using the same printer, Peter Short. Dowland also published a book in 1600 as did Thomas Morley the owner of the music publishing monopoly. Morley had given his assent to Jones and Dowland to print this handful of books. Peter Short sold both these books by Robert Jones and John Dowland in his shop on Bread Street Hill. This is the same small street where the Mermaid Pub was located, where legend has it, that the likes of John Donne, Ben Jonson, Inago Jones and William Shakespeare used to hang out.
Robert Jones, for his 'The First Book of Songes and Ayres' (1600), used the same popular cover plate as John Dowland used for his first and third books, and for both their second books they used the same bee hive cover plate. Robert Jones mirrors a lot of Dowland's 1st Booke "to the reader" in his own 1st booke.
When one looks at the five lute song Bookes left by Jones and the four left by Dowland it could lead one to imagine that they were great competitors. Somehow my impression was that they were once friends and later became enemies. I may have gotten this from long ago when read introduction of Dowland 1st Booke. [I need to read it again. - where Dowland is critical of singers - which Jones no doubt was] I think it is likely that he sang along with the lute playing of John Dowland. Robert Jones must have been one of the great singers of his day.
Jones left very little lute music to his name in Lute book manuscripts where we have many works by Dowland and a fair handful by others like Francis Pilkington . In his 2nd booke Jones paid special attention to the bass viol and wrote parts for "the base Violl the playne way or the base by tableture after the leero fashion" and so perhaps this was his strongest instrument. I think it is likely that he played along with John Dowland and added the bass harmony and did not compete with him on the lute.
Jones last songs were published, along with John Dowland music, in Sir William Leighton's The Teares and Lamentatacions of a Sorrowfull Soule (1614)
Sir Robert Sidney (1563 -1626) and his daughter Lady Mary (Sidney) Worth both supported Robert Jones' bookes and I believe that John Dowland's son Robert Dowland stayed at the Sidney's Penshurst estate in Kent when John Dowland was in Denmark. (Ben Jonson wrote his famous To Penshurst) I think it is a good guess that Robert Jones spent some time in that household and guided or taught Mary (Sidney) Wroth and Robert Dowland.