Dowland went to Paris in 1580 where he was in service to the ambassador to the French court. After having travelled through Germany and Italy, he worked at the court of Christian IV of Denmark (1598-1606). He returned to England in 1606 and in 1612 secured a post as one of James I's lutenists.
Most of Dowland's music is for his own instrument, the lute. It includes several books of solo lute works, lute songs (for one voice and lute), part-songs with lute accompaniment, and several pieces for viol consort with lute.
His best known works are the lute song "Flow My Tears" and his instrumental work," Lachrimae or Seaven Teares Figured in Seaven Passionate Pavans", a set of seven pieces for five viols and lute, each based on "Flow My Tears."