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Encyclopedia > William Byrd
William Byrd
William Byrd

William Byrd (c. 15404 July 1623) was an English composer of the Renaissance. He lived until well into the seventeenth century without writing music in the new Baroque fashion, but his keyboard works are said to have marked the beginning of the Baroque organ and harpsichord style. William Byrd is the name of the following people: William Byrd (1540? – July 4, 1623) - English composer. ... In the public domain by age This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... In the public domain by age This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Look up Circa on Wiktionary, the free dictionary The Latin word circa, literally meaning about, is often used to describe various dates (often birth and death dates) that are uncertain. ... Year 1540 was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. ... is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1623 (MDCXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 10-day slower Julian calendar). ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... The Renaissance (French for rebirth, or Rinascimento in Italian), was a cultural movement in Italy (and in Europe in general) that began in the late Middle Ages, and spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century. ... For other uses, see Baroque (disambiguation). ... Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750[1] (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ... Organ in Katharinenkirche, Frankfurt am Main, Germany The organ is a keyboard instrument played using one or more manuals and a pedalboard. ... Harpsichord in the Flemish style A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. ...

Contents

Biography

Birth

According to the 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, William Byrd was born in 1543, probably in Lincoln. Since then, the facts of his early life have been challenged. The 1543 date derives from his will, in which he describes himself as being in his eightieth year of life. The will is dated 15 November 1622, which would mean he was born between 14 November 1542 and 14 November 1543. However the statement about his age refers only to when he started writing his will. At this time in history, it might have taken several months, to several years to complete a will. Therefore he may have been eighty in 1619 and taken 3 years to complete his will. According to John Harley [1] Byrd drafted a deposition on or near 15 November 1598. In the deposition he is described (in someone else's handwriting) as "58 yeares or ther abouts". This would give a date of birth near the end of 1539 or in 1540. In that he case he could not possibly have been the "Wyllyam Byrd" who became a chorister in Westminster Abbey in 1543, though some sources have decided that Byrd must have been born even earlier, in 1534, in order to make this possible. The idea that he was born in Lincolnshire derives from the fact that the name "Byrd" is rare, and is found in that area. If he really was the "Wyllyam Byrd" at Westminster in 1543, the he is likely to have been born in London, not Lincoln. He must have been born sometime between 1534 and 1543, in Lincoln or London. The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general English-language encyclopaedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ... Lincoln (pronounced //) is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England. ... Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs) is a county in the east of England. ... Westminster is a district within the City of Westminster in London. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ...


Under Mary

Like so many gifted musicians in Renaissance Europe, Byrd began his career at a very early age. He almost certainly sang in the Chapel Royal during Mary Tudor's reign (1553–1558), "bred up to music under Thomas Tallis". This places him in the best choir in England during his impressionable teenage years, alongside the finest musicians of his day, who were brought in from all over the British Isles, from the Netherlands, and even from Spain and Portugal. “Bloody Mary” spent her brief reign reacting to the excesses of Protestant austerity under her predecessor Edward VI. One of the more pleasant aspects of this was her taste for elaborate Latin church music. Byrd seems to have thrived on the exuberant, creative atmosphere: one manuscript from Queen Mary's chapel includes a musical setting of a long psalm for Vespers, with eight verses each by leading court composers William Mundy and John Sheppard, and four verses by the young Byrd. They must have recognized his talent and invited him to work with them. For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Thomas Tallis Thomas Tallis (c 1505–23 November 1585) was an English composer. ... Mary I (18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558), also known as Mary Tudor, was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 6 July 1553 (de facto) or 19 July 1553 (de jure) until her death on 17 November 1558. ... Edward VI (12 October 1537 – 6 July 1553) became King of England, King of France (in practice only the town and surrounding district of Calais) and Ireland on 28 January 1547, and crowned on 20 February, at just nine years of age. ... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. ... William Mundy (c 1529–c 1591) was an English composer. ... John Sheppard (c. ...


Under Elizabeth and James

He was eighteen years old when Mary died and her younger Protestant sister, Queen Elizabeth, succeeded her. The sudden change may well have driven him away from court. He shows up again in his mid-twenties as organist and choirmaster of Lincoln Cathedral, being named to the position on February 27, 1562/3 and living at 6 Minster Yard in the Cathedral Close. There the clergy apparently had to reprimand him for playing at excessive length during services, although he did continue to write music specifically to be played at Lincoln even after his move to London. This article is about Elizabeth I of England. ... Lincoln Cathedral (in full The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln, or sometimes St. ...


He married Juliana (or Julian) Byrd in 1568, and at least seven children are known: Christopher (baptized in 1569), Elizabeth (baptized early in 1572), Rachel (born sometime before 1574), Mary, Catherine, Thomas (baptized in 1576) and Edward.


After being named a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572, a well-paying job with considerable privileges attached to it, he moved back to London. He worked there as a singer, composer and organist for more than two decades. Just after his appointment, he and Tallis obtained a joint printing license from Queen Elizabeth. He published three collections of Latin motets or Cantiones Sacrae, one (in 1575) with the collaboration of his teacher and two (in 1589 and 1591) by himself after the older man had died. Alongside these, he brought out two substantial anthologies of music in English, Psalmes, Sonets and Songs in 1588 and Songs of Sundrie Natures in 1589. He also wrote a large amount of Anglican church music for the Chapel Royal, including such masterpieces as the ten-voice Great Service and well-known anthems such as Sing joyfully. In 1591 he arranged for the transcription of many of his finest keyboard pieces to form a collection dedicated to a member of the Nevill family, entitled My Ladye Nevells Booke, one of the most important anthologies of renaissance keyboard music. In 1593 he moved with his family to the small village of Stondon Massey in Essex, and spent the remaining thirty years of his life there, devoting himself more and more to music for the Roman liturgy. He published his three famous settings of the Mass Ordinary between 1592 and 1595, and followed them in 1605 and 1607 with his two books of Gradualia, an elaborate year-long musical cycle. He contributed eight marvellous pieces to the first printed collection of music in England, Parthenia, published circa 1611. He died on July 4, 1623, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Stondon churchyard. The Chapel Royal did not originally refer to a building but an establishment in the Royal Household. ... In Western music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions. ... In Anglican church music, a Service is a musical setting of certain parts of the liturgy, generally for choir with or without organ accompaniment. ... An anthem is a composition to an English religious text sung in the context of an Anglican service. ... My Ladye Nevells Booke is a compilation of the finest keyboard pieces by the English composer William Byrd, and, together with the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, one of the most important collections of keyboard music of the renaissance. ... The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the fixed portions of the Eucharistic liturgy (principally that of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, generally known in the US as the Episcopal Church, and also the Lutheran Church) to music. ... Parthenia or the Maydenhead of the first musicke that ever was printed for the Virginalls was, as the title states, the first printed collection of music for keyboard in England. ...


Effects of the Reformation on his career

Byrd's life is interesting because of his Roman Catholic sympathies combined with his work in the court of the Anglican Queen Elizabeth I. (Consider, for example, in the Credo of the Mass for Three Voices, where winding counterpoint joins together for an exultant repetition of "catholicam" before drifting apart again). He composed much music, if intermittently, for the Roman Catholic liturgy, particularly in his later years; the two volumes of Gradualia constitute a prime example. Possibly as a result of this he did not receive widespread recognition in his lifetime, but was very well respected among the Roman Catholic gentry. In the anti-Catholic frenzy following the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, the first volume of the Gradualia, printed by Thomas East in 1605, was banned in England under penalty of imprisonment, as indeed was all his Catholic music; however, his Anglican music— such as the Short Service and the Responses—has been sung in English cathedrals uninterrupted for the past four centuries. “Catholic Church” redirects here. ... Anglicanism commonly refers to the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion, the churches that are in full communion with the see of Canterbury. ... This article is about Elizabeth I of England. ... <imagemap>: no valid link was found at the end of line 11 The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was a failed attempt by a group of provincial English Catholics to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single attack by blowing up... A Cathedral is a Christian church building, specifically of a denomination with an episcopal hierarchy, which serves as the central church of a bishopric. ...


Every stage of Byrd's musical career was affected by the political and religious controversies of his day. When a law was passed in 1534 establishing Henry VIII as “the only Supreme Head in earth of the Church of England,” liturgy and church music took on new importance. In such volatile times, the outward practices of worship were often the only touchstone for inward loyalty—and in the new English church, disloyalty to the established religion was also disloyalty to the state. This point was not lost on the obsessively political Tudor regime. Lex orandi, lex credendi—how people worship reflects, even determines, what they believe—was a theological commonplace of the era, and public prayer was, as it had been for centuries in pre-Reformation England, inextricably linked with music-making. One of the first steps taken by the Reformers was the revision of all books of worship and the establishment of a new, simplified musical style. By the time Byrd joined the Chapel Royal in the 1570s, the rules had relaxed somewhat, and he could produce elaborate works for what was still the best-funded and most famous choir in the country. Even as he won fame for his Anglican music, though, he was writing bitter Latin motets, many of them publicly printed in his books of Cantiones, about the plight of the English Catholic community. At some point, he tired of compromise and left the court, keeping his position at the Chapel in absentia. He never returned to live in London. He continued to write secular songs, madrigals, and keyboard pieces until the end of his life, but his later church music, composed during the years in Essex, is exclusively Latin. “Henry VIII” redirects here. ... Lex orandi—lex credendi refers to the relationship between worship and belief which is a fundamental character of Anglicanism. ... The Chapel Royal did not originally refer to a building but an establishment in the Royal Household. ... Anglican church music is music that is performed in Anglican church services. ... In Western music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions. ...


The three Masses and the two books of Gradualia, published over fifteen years, were Byrd's major contribution to the Roman rite. These were written for the intimate, even secretive, atmosphere of domestic worship, to be performed for a small group of skilled amateurs (which included women, according to contemporary accounts) and heard by a small congregation. Although such worship could be dangerous—even a capital offense in some cases—Byrd went further than merely providing music. There are many records of his participation in illegal services. A Jesuit missionary describes a country house in Berkshire in 1586: Seal of the Society of Jesus. ...

The gentleman was also a skilled musician, and had an organ and other musical instruments and choristers, male and female, members of his household. During these days it was just as if we were celebrating an uninterrupted Octave of some great feast. Mr. Byrd, the very famous English musician and organist, was among the company....

In view of such events, it is astonishing that he was allowed to live as a free man, much less keep his office in the Chapel Royal and the benefices associated with it. Shortly after the Gunpowder Plot was uncovered in November 1605, an unfortunate traveller was arrested in a London pub in possession of "certain papistical books written by William Byrd, and dedicated to Lord Henry Howard, earl of Northampton"—an unmistakable reference to the first set of Gradualia. The man was thrown into Newgate prison, one of the most notorious prisons in England. Byrd and his family suffered no such treatment (though his wife's servant was imprisoned on two occasions), but court records show him involved in endless lawsuits, mostly over his right to own property confiscated from another Catholic, and paying heavy fines. The reputation he had built as a young man in London, and the patronage of the Queen, must have helped him through his later years. The Chapel Royal did not originally refer to a building but an establishment in the Royal Household. ... <imagemap>: no valid link was found at the end of line 11 The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was a failed attempt by a group of provincial English Catholics to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single attack by blowing up... Newgate, the old city gate and prison. ...


Artists often claimed a sort of vocational immunity to the controversies of their age — John Taverner, implicated in the radical Oxford Protestant movement of the late 1520s, escaped a heresy trial with the plea that he was “but a musician”—but the simple act of creating religious art put them in the centre of the fray. Byrd was talented and fortunate enough to continue his work, and to gain the esteem of nearly all his contemporaries. Henry Peacham reflected the public opinion when he wrote, just a few months before the composer's death, in his Compleat Gentleman: John Taverner (around 1490 – October 18, 1545) is regarded as the most important English composer of his era. ...

For motets and music of piety and devotion, as well for the honour of our nation as the merit of the man, I prefer above all our Phoenix, Master William Byrd.

Media

  • Crade Song
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

Image File history File links Byrd-Cradle_song_sung_by_David_W_Solomons. ...

See also

This is a list of the musical compositions by William Byrd, one of the most celebrated English composers of the Renaissance. ... Orlando Gibbons Orlando Gibbons (baptised December 25, 1583 – June 5, 1625) was an English composer and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods. ... John Bull (1562 or 1563–March 15, 1628) was an Welsh composer, musician, and organ builder. ...

References

  1. ^ John Harley
Wikisource has an original article from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica about:
Byrd, William
  • John Harley, William Byrd: Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, (Aldershot, 1997)
  • Stainer & Bell. Ltd., (13.IX.2006) - Contains bio and list of works

Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Encyclopædia Britannica, the eleventh edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ...

External links

Scores and recordings


  Results from FactBites:
 
William Byrd - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1229 words)
Byrd's life is interesting because of his Roman Catholic sympathies combined with his work in the court of the Anglican Queen Elizabeth I.
Byrd seems to have thrived on the exuberant, creative atmosphere: one manuscript from Queen Mary’s chapel includes a musical setting of a long psalm for Vespers, with eight verses each by leading court composers Mundy and Sheppard, and four verses by the young Byrd.
Byrd was talented and fortunate enough to continue his work, and to gain the esteem of nearly all his contemporaries.
Classical Net - Basic Repertoire List - Byrd (1454 words)
Byrd was the leading English composer of his generation, and together with his continental colleagues Giovanni Palestrina (c.1525-1594) and Orlando de Lassus (1532-1594), one of the acknowledged great masters of the late Renaissance.
Byrd is considered by many the greatest English composer of any age, and indeed his substantial volume of high quality compositions in every genre of the time makes it easy to consider him the greatest composer of the Renaissance - his versatility and genius outshining those of Palestrina and Lassus in a self-evident way.
Byrd was a Catholic in Protestant England, and though this position demanded a certain amount of seclusion and discretion, his loyalty to the Crown was never in doubt.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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