He composed secular music and songs for court masques (and doubtless played in them), as well as sacred anthems and motets for Charles's private worship. He is most remembered today for his sublime viol consort suites for between three and six players and his lyra viol music. His use of counterpoint and fugue and his tendency to juxtapose bizarre, spine-tingling themes next to pastoral ones in these works made them disfavoured in the centuries after his death; they have only become widely available in recent years. When Charles's dispute with Parliament led to the outbreak of the Civil War, Lawes joined the Royalist army and was given a post in the King's Life Guards, which was intended to keep him out of danger. Despite this, he was "casually shot" by a Parliamentarian in the massacre of Royalists at Rowton Heath, near Chester, on 24th September 1645.
Although the King was in mourning for his kinsman Bernard Stuart (killed in the same massacre), he instituted a special mourning for Lawes, apparently honouring him with the title of "Father of Musick". The author of his epitaph, Thomas Jordan, closed it with a lachrymose pun on the fact that Lawes had died at the hands of those who denied the divine right of kings: Will. Lawes was slain by such whose wills were laws. Read more on Last.fm.
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