William Byrd

1543 - 1623

William Byrd, birth date variously given as c.1539/40 or 1543 – 4 July 1623, was an English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard (the so-called Virginalist school), and consort music. He produced sacred music for use in Anglican services, although he himself became a Roman Catholic in later life and wrote Catholic sacred music as well.

(b. Lincoln, 1543; d. Stondon Massey, July 4, 1623)

English composer. Of the generation of Edmund Spenser rather than Shakespeare, Byrd grew up Catholic at a time of dramatic upheaval in the religious sector (Henry VIII, in a feud with the Pope over the validity of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, had ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in 1535) and became England's leading musician during the Elizabethan era, a time of equally profound change in the artistic sphere. As a boy he may have been a pupil of Thomas Tallis at the Chapel Royal in London. He was appointed organist of Lincoln Cathedral in 1563, and in 1572 was sworn in as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. About 1573 he joined Tallis (his elder by 38 years) as organist of the Chapel Royal, and in 1575 he and Tallis received an exclusive royal patent to print and publish music. Their first publication was a collection of Latin motets for five to eight voices, Cantiones, quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur (Songs Which on Account of Their Texts Are Called Sacred; 1575), that proved unprofitable; Byrd published nothing further until 1588, three years after Tallis's death.

A staunch Catholic, Byrd was repeatedly harassed, fined, and on several occasions prosecuted for the crime of recusancy—refusing to attend services of the Church of England. In spite of this he continued to write Latin motets (about 175 in all), and between 1592 and 1595 he composed and had published three mass settings, among his most important achievements. Their style is less florid, more declamatory than that of the High Renaissance, but still wonderfully rich; in them, Byrd often resorts to a "scoring" of the voices, giving different portions of text a distinctly different color. Their part-writing displays a virtuosity on the same level as that of the great Netherlandish composers of the 16th century. Byrd also wrote a substantial amount of music for the Anglican service, and was extremely prolific in other areas as well: He penned numerous English songs as well as pavanes and other pieces for viol consort. He also composed about 100 pieces for virginal, including fantasias, preludes, grounds, variations, pavanes, galliards, and other dances.

 

Key Works

Parthenia, published in 1612

Mass for Five Voices 












Mass for 4 Voices






 








Songs of Sundrie Natures​








 

Mass for 3 Voices

[00:00] Kyrie
[00:35] Gloria
[05:09] Credo
[11:45] Sanctus
[14:31] Agnus Dei

Consort Songs & Music for Viols

1. O Lord, within thy tabernacle 0:00
2. In Nomine à 5 (I) 4:16
3. Quis me statim 7:24
4. In Nomine à 5 (IV) 10:22
5. With lilies white (An elegy for Lady Magdalen Montague, d.1608) 13:12 
6. Fantasia à 5 18:04
7. Wretched Albinus (Upon the fall of the Earl of Essex, 1601) 24:56
8. In Nomine à 5 (II) 27:50
9. Blame I confess 31:15
10. Prelude and ground à 5 33:59
11. Ye sacred Muses (An elegy for Thomas Tallis, d.23 November 1585 39:54 
12. In Nomine à 5 (V) 43:34
13. Rejoice unto the Lord (In honour of Queen Elizabeth I, 1586) 46:40
14. Browning à 5 50:00
15. Fair Britain Isle (Elegy for Henry, Prince of Wales, d.1612) 54:25
16. In Nomine à 5 (III) 1:00:35

 Fretwork

01 - Prelude & Ground a 5 (0:00)
02 - Christe redemptor a 4 (5:58)
03 - Sermone blando a 3, MB 108 (8:56)
04 - Pavan & Galliard a 5, MB 127 (13:15)
05 - Fantasia a 5 in C Major, "Two in One" (17:25)
06 - In nomine a 4, No. 1 (23:36)
07 - In nomine a 4, No. 2 (25:54)
08 - Fantasia a 3, No. 1 in C Major (28:43)
09 - Fantasia a 3, No. 2 in C Major (30:28)
10 - Fantasia a 3, No. 3 in C Major (32:14)
11 - Fantasia a 4, No. 1 in G Minor (33:34)
12 - Browning a 5 (36:19)
13 - Pavan & Galliard a 6 in C Major (40:34) 
14 - In nomine a 5, No. 1 (44:51)
15 - In nomine a 5, No. 2, "On the sharpe" (47:10)
16 - In nomine a 5, No. 3 (49:47)
17 - In nomine a 5, No. 4 (52:34)
18 - In nomine a 5, No. 5 (55:19)
19 - Fantasia a 6, No. 3 (57:52)
20 - Christe qui lux a 4, No. 1-3 (1:02:32)
21 - Te lucisa ante terminum a 4, No. 2, MB 134, Verse 2 (1:07:57)
22 - Miserere a 4 (1:09:18)
23 - Fantasia a 6, No. 2 in G Minor (1:10:51)

4 Hours With His Best Classical Baroque Music Ever For Harpsichord

Songs Which on Account of Their Texts Are Called Sacred

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