O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Saturday, January 08, 2011

William Byrd, life

William Byrd

1539 or 1540 - 1623

English composer

William Byrd was an English composer of the Renaissance, born in late 1539 or 1540 in London.
He died in 1623. He was the son of a musician, and studied music principally under Thomas Tallis.

(T. Tallis, c. 1505–1585, was an English composer - Church musician in Tudor England, then the leading composing member of the Chapel Royal Choir).

In 1563 William became organist at Lincoln Cathedral and, three years later, chorister in the Chapel Royal. In 1575 received the title of Organist of the Chapel Royal without being obliged to perform the functions of that office.
W. Byrd wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard (the so-called virginialist school) and consort music. He can be defined the most distinguished contrapuntist and the most prolific composer of his time in England.  

(The term virginalist usually refers to the English keyboard composers of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods. The term does not appear to have been applied earlier than the 19th century. Although the virginals was among the most popular keyboard instruments of this period, there is no evidence that the composers wrote exclusively for this instrument, and their music is equally suited to the harpsichord, the clavichord or the chamber organ).

William Byrd was the first Englishman to write madrigals, a form which originated in Italy in the thirteenth century, and received its highest development in the sixteenth century at the hands of Arcadelt and other masters.

(Jacques, or Jacob, Arcadelt - c.1507–1568 - was a famous Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music).

An organist and performer of the first order upon the virginals, Byrd wrote for the latter instrument an enormous number of compositions, many of which are played today. His chief significance lies, however, in his compositions for the Church, of which he produced a great many.
In 1607 he published a collection of gradualia for the whole ecclesiastical year, among which is to be found a three-part setting of the words of the multitude in the Passion according to St. John. A modern edition of this setting was published in 1899.
In 1611 "Psalms, Songs and Sonnets, Some Solemn, Others Joyful, Framed to the Life of the Words, Fit for Voyces or Viols, etc." appeared. Probably in the same year was issued "Parthenia", a collection of virginal music, in which Byrd collaborated with J. Bull and Orlando Gibbons.
Three masses - for three, four, and five voices, respectively - belong to the composer's best period. In 1841 the mass for five voices was reprinted by the Musical Antiquarian Society and in 1899 the same work was issued by Breitkopf and Hartel. Two of his motets, "Domine, ne irascaris" and "Civitas sancti tui", with English texts, are in the repertoire of most Anglican cathedrals.

(Motets = A short piece of music set to Latin words, and sung instead of, or immediately after, the Offertorium, or as a detached number in extra-liturgical functions).

William Byrd’s death in 1623 was noted in the Chapel Royal Check Book in a unique entry describing him as ‘a Father of Musick’.


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