1539 or 1540 - 1623
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
, then the leading composing member of the Chapel Royal Choir). England
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
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 . 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’.