This text was copied from Wikipedia on 18 February 2024 at 4:10AM.

Nicholas Lanier, painting by van Dyck, 1632 (Kunsthistorisches Museum)

Nicholas Lanier, sometimes Laniere (baptised 10 September 1588 – buried 24 February 1666)[1] was an English composer and musician; the first to hold the title of Master of the King's Music from 1625 to 1666, an honour given to musicians of great distinction. He was the court musician, a composer and performer and Groom of the Chamber in the service of King Charles I and Charles II. He was also a singer, lutenist, scenographer and painter.


Nicholas Lanier was a descendant of a French family of royal musicians, the Lanière family, who were Huguenots, and was baptised at Greenwich. His father and grandfather left France to escape persecutions. His aunt, Emilia Bassano, was the daughter of Venetian musicians at the Tudor court and, before her marriage to Alfonso Lanier, had been the mistress to the Lord Chamberlain, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, and possibly Henry Wriothesly, Earl of Southampton. Historian A. L. Rowse suggested that she may well have been the famous Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets.[2] The family settled in England in 1561. Nicholas Lanier was the son of Frances Galliardello and John Lanier, who was the son of Nicholas Lanier the Elder, court musician to the French King Henry II. His maternal grandfather was another royal musician, Mark Anthony Galliardello. Nicholas was first taught by his father, John, who played the sackbut. In 1613 he composed a masque for the marriage of the Earl of Somerset jointly with Giovanni Coperario and others.[3]

Nicholas Lanier 1613, unknown painter, sold at Christies.[4]

He also wrote music, sang and made sets for Thomas Campion and Ben Jonson's The Masque of Augurs and Lovers Made Men.[1][3]

In the 1610s, Lanier was appointed as a lutenist to the King's orchestra and a singer in the King's Consorte from 1625 to 1642. He also sang and played the viola da gamba. Lanier was also appointed as Groom of the Chamber for the Queen's Privy Chamber in 1639.[3]

From 1625 he made a series of visits to Italy to collect paintings for King Charles I, including most of the art collection of the Dukes of Mantua. During his travels he heard the new Italian music being written by the likes of Claudio Monteverdi. This led to him being one of the first English composers to introduce monody and recitative to England. It was Lanier who, when his own portrait was painted by the Flemish painter van Dyck in Antwerp, convinced the King to bring van Dyck to England, where van Dyck became the leading court painter. The portrait displays the attitude of studied carelessness, called sprezzatura, recommended in The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione, defined as "a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it".[5] Lanier's portrait by van Dyck hangs today in Vienna at the Kunsthistoriches Museum.[6]

Portrait of the artist, William Dobson, with Nicholas Lanier (left) and Sir Charles Cotterell (right), c 1645.

In 1626, Lanier became the first composer to hold the title Master of the King's Music; an honour given a musician of great distinction. The office of Master of the King's Musick is the equivalent to the title of the Poet Laureate. During the Commonwealth of England he lived in the Netherlands, but returned after the Restoration to resume his duties in 1660. When he returned to England, he became music master to Charles II. He made several sceneries, like for example for Ben Jonson's Lovers Made Men. There is only one painting which can be identified as being made by Lanier, a self-portrait in the music faculty of Oxford University.[1][7][8] Lanier died in 1666 in East Greenwich.

See also

External videos
video icon No more shall meads be decked with flowers – Nicholas Lanier
video icon Hero's Complaint to Leander – Nicholas Lanier


  1. ^ a b c Nicholas Lanier at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ "Lanier". East Central Cowley County Historical Society. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Nicholas Lanier (Lanière)". Here of a Sunday Morning. WBAI. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ Hebbert, B. M. (2010). "A new portrait of Nicholas Lanier". Early Music. 38 (4): 509–522. doi:10.1093/em/caq080.
  5. ^ Castiglione, Baldesar (2002). Javitch, Daniel (ed.). The Book of the Courtier: The Singleton Translation. Translated by Singleton, Charles S. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 32.
  6. ^ Bischoff, Cäcilia (2000). "Nicolas Lanier". Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Kunsthistorisches Museum. Retrieved 18 February 2019 – via Google Arts & Culture.
  7. ^ "The Royal Household, Master of The Queens Music". Government of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  8. ^ Duck, Leonard (1953). "Masters of the Sovereign's Music". The Musical Times. 94 (1324): 255–258. doi:10.2307/934669. JSTOR 934669.


  • Callon, Gordon J., Nicholas Lanier: The complete works, (1994), Severinus Press, ISBN 0-86314-224-9.

External links

2 Annotations

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Nicholas Lanier travelled with Charles II during the interregnum. In March 1658 he was part of the entertainment at a very rare ball given by William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle:

"'The ball at my Lord Newcastle's was on Wednesday night, where the Duchess of Lorraine [Beatrix de Cusance, Comtesse de Cantecroix, Duchess of Lorraine], with her son and daughter, were, with the King and his brothers and sister,' wrote Sir Charles Cotterel.

"'M.B., and two or three Frenchmen were also there, and a little room was well filled with most of the English here, and some of the town. ... The King was brought in with loud music, and all being placed, Major Mohun, that was the player, in a black satin robe and garland of bays, spake a speech in verse, of his Lordship's own poetry, wherein as much was said of compliment to his Majesty as the highest hyperbole could possibly express. After that they danced for two hours, and then my Lady Moore [Viscountess Alice Spencer Moore of Drogheda], dressed all in feathers, came in and sung a song of the same author's, and set and taught by Nicholas Lanier. Then was the banquet brought in, in eight great chargers, each borne by two gentlemen belonging to the Court, wines and other drinks which being dispersed to all the Company, they danced again for two hours more, and Major Mohun, in the same habit, ended all with another speech by way of prophecy of his Majesty's establishment.'" 3

3 Flanders Papers, R. O., Cotterel to Nicholas, March 1, 1658; Walker to Nicholas, March 1, 1658.
from THE TRAVELS OF THE KING Charles II in Germany and Flanders 1654-1660
Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



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