Today (September 24th) is the anniversary of the death of the English composer William Lawes (1602-43). William Lawes was composer in residence to King Charles I and during the English civil war he enlisted in the Royal army; however in 1643 he was shot and killed during the siege of Chester, aged just 41. Lawes death prompted King Charles I to declare a period of mourning and to honour him with the title of 'Father of Musick'. William Lawes is chiefly remembered today for his Viol Consort Setts for 5 & 6 viols, his music being characterized by lyricism, a wide variety of keys, experimental harmonies and varied moods.
One of Lawes last works was a fantasy on a penitential psalm entitled, 'I am weary of my groaning'. With William Lawes death English music lost potentially one its greatest composers. However his Consort Setts are today frequently recorded and performed, notably by Fretwork, the foremost musicians associated with the revival of music for viols.
Go to itunes to hear a recommended sample of William Lawes, from Sett no. 1 the Paven in G minor (7' 05") as performed by Fretwork .