Lanier, Nicholas

Period: Baroque

Born: 1588 in London, England

Died: Wednesday, February 24, 1666 in Greenwich, England

Nation of Origin: United Kingdom

Major Works:
Music for Masques by Ben Johnson:
Lovers made Men (1617)
The Vision of Delight (1617)

Other Information:
Please note: Many thanks to Dr. Gordon Callon, editor of Lanier's complete works, for his assistance in the preparation of this entry. Dr. Callon's extensive research of primary source materials has revealed several discrepancies with information found in well-respected reference materials.

Nicholas Lanier, baptized on September 10, 1588, grew to become a skilled composer, lutenist, singer, and painter. He is today the most famous member of the Lanier family of musicians. From about 1605 to 1613 Lanier served as a musician in the house of Robert Cecil. In 1610-11 Lanier traveled in Italy with William Cecil, the son of Robert Cecil.

He served as a lutenist, singer, and viol player in the King's Musick beginning in 1615. Several reference works state that he worked for Prince Charles beginning in 1618 but his name is missing from the lists of musicians employed by Charles at the time. Charles was crowned King Charles I in 1625 and shortly thereafter on July 11, 1626 Lanier was appointed Master of the King's Musick with an annual salary of 200 pounds in addition to his musician's salary of 40 pounds per year. From 1625 to 1628 he traveled to Italy several times on behalf of the King to purchase art works. During that time Monteverdi was serving as Master of Music of the Venetian Republic and composing superb sacred music for St. Mark's Basilica as well as many operas and ballets. As a consequence of his Italian experiences, Lanier was among the first English composers to introduce Italian monody and recitative-style singing into 17th century England.

Lanier was the first to hold the title of Master of the King's Musick. He lost his post, however, during the English civil wars (1642-1651) but was reinstated after the Restoration in 1660. By then Charles I had been executed by his enemies and was succeeded by his son Charles II who also employed Lanier as Master of the King's Musick until the death of Lanier in 1666. He also was appointed for life by Charles II as Marshall of the Corporation for Regulating the Art and Science of Music.

For further information, please see the link below to Dr. Callon's biographical summary and list of works.


Composer Bibliography:
Ashbee, Andrew and David Lasocki. A Biographical Dictionary of English Court Musicians, 1485-1714. Assisted by Peter Holman and Fiona Kisby. 2 vols. Aldershot, Hampshire: Scolar Press, 1998.
Wilson, Michael I. Nicholas Lanier: Master of the King's Musick. Aldershot, Hampshire: Scolar Press, 1994.
Nicholas Lanier: The Complete Works. Edited by Gordon J. Callon (Boethius Editions, XI). Hereford, England: Severinus Press, 1994.


General Bibliography:
Bukofzer, Manfred F., Music in the Baroque Era, from Monteverdi to Bach, W.W. Norton & Company, November 1947, ISBN: 0393097455

Palisca, Claude V. Baroque Music, Prentice Hall, December 1990, ISBN: 0130584967

Slonimsky, Nicolas and Kuhn, Laura; Editors, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Gale Group, December 2000, ISBN: 0028655257

Sadie, Stanley and Tyrrell, John; Editors, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Groves Dictionaries, Inc., January 2004, ISBN: 0195170679

Rutherford-Johnson, Tim, Kennedy, Michael, and Kennedy, Joyce The Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press, 6th Edition, 2012, ISBN: 0199578109


Links to essays at other sites:

Please note: Each link will open in a new window.

Biographical essay from Wikipedia
An article by Dr. Gordon Callon
A portrait of Lanier by Anthony van Dyke