Alfonso Ferrabosco, born in Greenwich to an Italian composer father of the same name, was the pre-eminent viol player of the early 17th century, and his lyra viol publication mostly for solo viol is the largest, most important & technically challenging publication for viol for nearly a century.
It was published in the same year at the Shakespeare Sonnets, and may share a dedicatee, in Henry Wriothsley, Earl of Southampton. Ferrabosco worked extensively with Ben Jonson on his plays and masks, in some of which Shakespeare acted.
The lyra viol was an English invention of only a few year before this work, and it had become bit of a craze, with many works published in the first 15 years of the century.
It’s first referred to in a play by Ben Jonson in 1599, Cynthia’s Revels, and at this time probably had sympathetic metal strings running underneath the bridge and through a hollow fingerboard.
Lyra-viol music is really the beginning of the journey that ends in the Bach suites for ‘cello and violin.