WILLIAM BYRD - Mass for three voices - Gloria
William Byrd (between 1534 and 1543 -- 4 July 1623) was an English composer of the Renaissance. He lived until well into the seventeenth century without writing music in the new Baroque fashion, but his keyboard works are said to have marked the beginning of the Baroque organ and harpsichord style.
Like so many gifted musicians in Renaissance Europe, Byrd began his career at a very early age. He almost certainly sang in the Chapel Royal during Mary Tudor's reign (1553--1558), "bred up to music under Thomas Tallis". This places him in the best choir in England during his teenage years, alongside the finest musicians of his day, who were brought in from all over the British Isles, from the Netherlands, and even from Spain and Portugal. Mary I spent her brief reign reacting to the excesses of Protestant austerity under her predecessor Edward VI. Byrd seems to have thrived on the exuberant, creative atmosphere as well as her taste for elaborate Latin church music: one manuscript from Queen Mary's chapel includes a musical setting of a long psalm for Vespers, with eight verses each by leading court composers William Mundy and John Sheppard, and four verses by the young Byrd.
He was eighteen years old when Mary died and her younger Protestant sister, Elizabeth I, succeeded her. The sudden change may well have driven him away from court. In his mid-twenties he became organist and choirmaster of Lincoln Cathedral, being named to the position on March 25, 1563 and living at 6 Minster Yard in the Cathedral Close. There the clergy apparently had to reprimand him for playing at excessive length during services, although he did continue to write music specifically to be played at Lincoln even after his move to London.
He married Juliana (or Julian) Byrd in 1568, and at least seven children are known: Christopher (baptized in 1569), Elizabeth (baptized early in 1572), Rachel (born sometime before 1574), Mary, Catherine, Thomas (baptized in 1576) and Edward.
After being named a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572, a well-paying job with considerable privileges attached to it, he moved back to London. He worked there as a singer, composer and organist for more than two decades. Just after his appointment, he and Tallis obtained a joint printing license from Queen Elizabeth. He published three collections of Latin motets or Cantiones Sacrae, one (in 1575) with the collaboration of his teacher and two (in 1589 and 1591) by himself after the older man had died. (Byrd composed the musical elegy Ye Sacred Muses on Tallis's death). Alongside these, he brought out two substantial anthologies of music in English, Psalmes, Sonets and Songs in 1588 and Songs of Sundrie Natures in 1589. He also wrote a large amount of Anglican church music for the Chapel Royal, including the ten-voice Great Service and a number of anthems, including Sing joyfully. In 1591 he arranged for the transcription of many of his keyboard pieces to form a collection dedicated to a member of the Nevill family, titled My Ladye Nevells Booke, one of the most important anthologies of renaissance keyboard music. In 1593 he moved with his family to the small village of Stondon Massey in Essex, and spent the remaining thirty years of his life there, devoting himself more and more to music for the Roman liturgy. He published his three settings of the Mass Ordinary between 1592 and 1595, and followed them in 1605 and 1607 with his two books of Gradualia, an elaborate year-long musical cycle. He contributed eight pieces to the first printed collection of keyboard music in England, Parthenia, published circa 1611. He died on July 4, 1623, and is buried in Stondon churchyard.
'Mass for Five Voices : Kyrie & Gloria'
Performed : The Tallis Scholars
Dir : Peter Phillips