John Cooper (Coperario, Coprario)


English composer. Born John Cooper but had begun to use the Italianate surname by 1601. Cooper served at the English court from 1605 to 1626 as lutenist, gamba player and composer, and taught the future King Charles I and also Henry and William Lawes. In the service of Queen Anne from 1605, by 1608 he was also in the private service of Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. Through 1612 he tought Prince Henry (d. 1613). In 1616-17 he traveled in Europe. . In service of Prince Charles (Charles I) 1618-25. Composer in Ordinary through his death in 1626.

There is no concrete evidence that he before 1604 visited Italy and adopted the name Giovanni Coperario, which he kept after returning home; the story nonetheless persists. Almost all of his works are secular, but he was in distinguished company in appearing in Leighton's 1613 The Teares or Lamentacions of a Sorrowfull Soule. He published two books of lute songs (Funeral Teares and Songs of Mourning) and was a prolific composer of fantasias, some ninety in from three to six parts being extant. suites for consort, some Italian villanellas, and a treatise Rules how to compose, written before 1617, a practical manual with original musical examples. His fantasias for viols show the progress of idiomatic instrumental writing, but more important are his four consort suites, both for their novel medium of one or two violins with bass viol and organ (although the music for the organ is merely a reduction of that allotted to the other three instruments), and for their development of the concept of the suite: each consists of a Fancy, an Almane, and a Galliard.

His 'A maske', set by Giles Farnaby, is to be found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

Useful Link: Richard Charteris [Author "John Coprario (Cooper), c. 1575-1626: A Study and Complete Critical Edition of His Instrumental Music" (diss., Univ. of Canterbury, New Zealand, 1976). Id., A Thematic Catalogue of the Music of John Coprario with a Biographical Introduction (New York, 1977)]

A partial John Cooper (Coperario) Discography  |  IV M: England Through 1635   |  Guide to English Song in the Elizabethan and Stuart Ages   |  The English Lutenists