William Byrd

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William Byrd (1543-1623), English composer, was one of the last and perhaps greatest of the great Tudor and Jacobean masters that formed the musical component of the English Renaissance.

He was a pupil of Thomas Tallis, was appointed organist and choirmaster at Lincoln Cathedral in 1563, joined the Chapel Royal in 1570 and, with Tallis, was given a royal monopoly of music printing. (He was to publish three sets of his own songs to English texts.)

Whilst brought up in a Protestant household, he increasingly leaned towards Catholicism, and much of his finest music is set to Latin texts – his music for the mass is the equal of any on the Continent. Whilst much of his catholic music is of a melancholy nature – he equated the state of catholic England with the fall of Jerusalem – he also wrote joyful consort and keyboard pieces that can be called exuberant.


“Oxford Companion to Music”

“The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music”.