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Sunday, 6 October 2013

William Byrd

William Byrd (1543-1623) is called the Father of Music and was England's foremost composer during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I.  He wrote for almost every musical medium available to him. 

Little is known of Byrd's early life except that he may have been born in Lincolnshire. A pupil of Thomas Tallis, he served as organist and master of the choristers at Lincoln Cathedral (1563-73)  He later moved to London to assume the post of a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, sharing the duties of organist with Tallis. 

From the early 1570s onwards Byrd became increasingly involved with Catholicism, which, as the scholarship of the last half-century has demonstrated, became a major factor in his personal and creative life. He evaded persecution only on account of his acknowledged excellence as a composer.

After the death of Tallis in 1585, Byrd published four collections of his own music, including Psalms, Sonets, & Songs (1588); Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589); and two books of 'Cantiones sacrae (1589 and 1591). These sacred songs were written for private use by Roman Catholic friends.   

 In 1592 or 1593 Byrd moved with his family to Stondon Massey, Essex where he wrote three masses and died 30 years later. 

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