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

Nicholas Lanier, sometimes Laniere (baptised at Greenwich 10 September 1588 – 24 February 1666) 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 1613, unknown painter, sold at Christies.[1]

Nicholas Lanier was a descendant of a French family of royal musicians, the Lanière family, who were Huguenots. His father and grandfather left France to escape persecutions.[2] The family settled in England in 1561. Nicholas Lanier was the son of John Lanier, who was the son of Nicholas Lanier the Elder, court musician to the French King Henry II of France. His maternal grandfather was another royal musician, Mark Anthony Galliardello. He 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]

He also wrote music, sang and made sets for Thomas Campion and Ben Jonson's The Masque of Augurs and Lovers Made Men.[4][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 travells 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 special attitude of studied carelessness, called sprezzatura, recommended in The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione, 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]

In 1626, Lanier became the first to hold the title Master of the King's Music in 1626; 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.[4][7][8] Lanier died in 1666 in East Greenwich.

Court offices

Court offices
New title Master of the King's Music
(role abolished 1649–1660)
Succeeded by
Louis Grabu

See also


  1. ^ "A new portrait of Nicholas Lanier". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help).mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ a b c "Nicholas Lanier (Lanière)". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ a b Nicholas Lanier at Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ Castiglione 2002, p. 32.
  6. ^ "nicolas-lanier". Retrieved 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ "The Royal Household, Master of The Queens Music". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
  8. ^ "The Musical Times, June 1953, pp. 255–258". JSTOR 934669. Missing or empty |url= (help)


External video
Nicholas Lanier.jpg
No more shall meads be decked with flowers - Nicholas Lanier
Hero's Complaint to Leander - Nicholas Lanier
  • Callon, Gordon J., Nicholas Lanier: The complete works, (1994), Severinus Press, ISBN 0-86314-224-9.

External links

1 Annotation

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.



  • Jan