John Adson (ca. 1587 – 1640) was an English musician
and composer. Little is known about his early life;
indeed, the first certain reference to him comes in
1604, when he was in service to Charles III, Duke of
Lorraine as a cornett player. Some time around February
1614 he married Jane Lannerie and at least two of their
sons went on to become musicians themselves.
After relocating to London, Adson joined the City Waits
and remained a member until his death. He is also
associated with theatre music, being referenced in
plays by the King's theatre company in 1634 and 1639.
He became royal wind musician in November 1633.
His best-known work is his Courtly Masquing Ayres
(1621), a collection of 31 lively dances for a variety
of instruments in five- and six-part consorts. It is
uncertain how much of this collection is his original
work, and how much is arrangements of existing masque
dances. Besides this work, only four other pieces
attributed to Adson are known.
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment
that flourished in 16th- and early 17th-century Europe,
though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms
including the intermedio (a public version of the
masque was the pageant). A masque involved music and
dancing, singing and acting, within an elaborate stage
design, in which the architectural framing and costumes
might be designed by a renowned architect, to present a
deferential allegory flattering to the patron.
Although this piece was originally written for
Recorders and continuo, I created this arrangement for
Flutes (2) and Strings (Violins (2), Viola & Cello).