BYRD, William

(c. 1543-1623)
William Byrd was one of the most prominent composers of sixteenth-century England; in addition, he was known as a versatile musician, able to perform on many instruments. He probably began his musical career as a choirboy, either in Queen Mary's* Chapel Royal or at St. Paul's Cathedral with his two older brothers. Byrd served as organist of Lincoln Cathedral from 1563 until he joined Elizabeth I's* Chapel Royal in 1572. His compositions bear some resemblance to those of his teacher, Thomas Tallis.* With Tallis he was so favored by Eliz­abeth that in 1575 the monarch granted the two composers a monopoly on printed music and music paper; the venture was a business failure, producing only one publication, their joint Cantiones sacrae (Sacred songs, 1575), which did not sell. When Tallis died ten years later, he left his share to Byrd's youngest son, Thomas, Tallis's godson. William Byrd later sold his share to his own pupil, Thomas Morley.* Both Byrd and Morley were famous for writing mad­rigals and secular dance music. Byrd also collaborated with John Bull,* pub­lishing a collection entitled Parthenia (c. 1612).
Byrd adhered to the Roman Catholic faith despite its unpopularity in the England of his time. He was apparently forced to withdraw from publication his Gradualia (1605), a collection of motets based on the Roman Catholic lit­urgy. With his wife Juliana, their children Rachael, Elizabeth, and Christopher, and at least one of their servants, Byrd was prosecuted on several occasions for absenting himself from Anglican services. However, none of the cases reached trial, since Byrd was protected by the queen. Nor did Byrd's Catholic ties pre­vent him from setting to music many poems of Sir Philip Sidney,* a strong Protestant. Christopher Byrd later married the sister of a Catholic chaplain.
Byrd's instrumental music, of which he published little, was virtually un­known until the twentieth century. However, both vocal and instrumental com­positions are creative and imaginative while drawing on English musical tradition. Equally at ease composing in Latin and English, Byrd claimed in his Psalmes, Songs, and Sonnets (1611) that his goal was one of matching his music "to the life of the words."
Bibliography
J. Harley, William Byrd: Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, 1997.
Jean Graham

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Byrd,William — Byrd, William. 1674 1744. American planter and colonial official whose diaries (written in shorthand) provide a rare and humorous account of daily life in pre Revolutionary Virginia. * * * …   Universalium

  • Byrd, William — • Article examining life, sacred and secular music, and related composers Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Byrd, William — born 1543, Lincoln, Lincolnshire?, Eng. died July 4, 1623, Stondon Massey, Essex British composer. He studied under Thomas Tallis and was appointed organist of Lincoln Cathedral at age 20. In 1572 he became organist of the Chapel Royal, sharing… …   Universalium

  • Byrd, William — (c. 1543–1623)    Composer.    Byrd was probably a native of Lincolnshire. Although a practising Roman Catholic, he became organist of Lincoln Cathedral in 1563 and moved to the Chapel Royal in 1570. He has been described as the ‘father of the… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Byrd, William — (1540 1623)    English composer, born in London and probably trained in the Chapel Royal under Thomas Tallis. He became organist and choirmaster at Lincoln cathedral (1563 1572), and in 1572 he was named a gentleman of the Chapel Royal and… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Byrd, William — ► (1543 1623) Compositor polifónico inglés. Fue organista de la Capilla Real y autor de música sacra, madrigales, etc. * * * (1543, Lincoln, ¿Lincolnshire?, Inglaterra–4 jul. 1623, Stondon Massey, Essex). Compositor británico. Estudió con Thomas… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Byrd, William — (1543, Lincoln ?, England – 4 July 1623, Stondon Massey, Essex)    Great master of high Renaissance polyphony, he was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Lincoln Cathedral from 25 March 1563, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal from… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Byrd, William, of Westover — ▪ American colonial diarist born March 28, 1674, Virginia Colony died Aug. 26, 1744, Westover, Va.  Virginia planter, satirist, and diarist who portrayed colonial life on the southern British plantations.       His birthplace was the James River… …   Universalium

  • William Byrd — (c. 1540 ndash; 4 July 1623) was an English composer of the Renaissance. He cultivated many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard and consort music ProvenanceOur knowledge… …   Wikipedia

  • William Byrd — William Byrd. William Byrd (hacia 1543 4 de julio de 1623), hijo de Thomas Byrd. Fue el compositor inglés más famoso de los últimos años de la época de los Tudor (Isabel I de Inglaterra) y de la primera época de los Estuardo (Jacobo I de… …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.