Nicholas Lanier

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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, singer, lutenist and painter.

Nicholas Lanier was the son of John Lanier, who was the son of Nicholas Lanier the Elder. His maternal grandfather was another 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. He also wrote music and made sets for Ben Jonson's The Masque of Augurs and Lovers Made Men.

In the 1610s, Lanier was appointed as a lutenist to the King's band. He also sang and played the viol.

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 this time 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.

In 1626, Lanier became the first to hold the title Master of the King's Musick. During the Commonwealth of England he lived in the Netherlands, but returned to resume his duties in 1660.

There is only one painting which can be identified as being by Lanier, a self-portrait in the music faculty of Oxford University.

Lanier died in 1666 in East Greenwich.


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

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