For many Classical Guitarists, part of the repertoire includes works by the English musician and composer, Robert Johnson. Johnson was a composer and Lutenist, perhaps most famous for assisting Shakespeare in composing music for some of his plays. Johnson was born in 1582 and died in 1633 in the city of London. In 1595, Johnson entered the service of Lord Chamberlain, Sir George Carey. This service offered to the Lord Chamberlain began his relationship with important playwrights such as William Shakespeare.
In 1604, Johnson became a Lutenist to the English court assisting with the production and composition of music for this court. Over the next twenty years, Johnson composed and published many different works of music, all characteristic of the Elizabethan era of music. Johnson’s father, John Johnson, had been the Lutenist for Queen Elizabeth. Robert Johnson continued the tradition by being appointed as Lutenist for King James I in 1604.
Johnson’s music is a good example of the Elizabethan music being produced during this period of English history and has many beautiful characteristics. The similarities between the Lute and Guitar have allowed many of his Lute compositions to be played on the guitar. The guitar student who plays these pieces will be transported back into the royal English courts with its distinctive cultural and musical inventions. The guitar student may start with “Alman” as a good piece to be introduced to the distinctive and beautiful music of Robert Johnson.
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