The Midle Ages and the Renaissance

12th to 16th century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

William Byrd



William Byrd was known as "the father of English musick": he was the last great English composer of Catholic church music, as well as the first of the Elizabethan "golden" age of secular music. Under the Protestant reign of Elizabeth I, many Catholics feared that they would be persecuted for their faith; Byrd's devout Catholic beliefs, however, seem to have been largely tolerated by the Queen, and this despite his close association with many Catholic recusants (those who refused to submit to Church of England dictates).

Little is known about Byrd's early years. He may have been a pupil of Thomas Tallis in London; the first authenticated records reveal him as organist and choirmaster at Lincoln Cathedral in 1563. In 1570 he was invited to join the Chapel Royal as a singer, although he did not actually leave Lincoln to take up his post until two years later. Even in London he continued to receive partial pay from the cathedral in return for further compositions — of Anglican church music. In 1572 he was appointed organist of the Chapel Royal, a position he initially shared with Thomas Tallis, and for the next 20 years or so Byrd remained in service at the court. In 1575 he and Tallis were granted a royal monopoly on the printing and selling of music.

During a period of general persecution of Catholics in the late 1570s, Byrd moved out of London with his family, and settled in Harlington, Middlesex. His wife, Juliana, was listed for refusing to attend Church of England services, which at that time was compulsory. In 1581 several Jesuits were executed. Byrd's house was searched and he was fined for his beliefs, but he nonetheless remained free. In the 1540s. after Juliana's death and his second marriage, he moved to Essex, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Byrd's music was as often dedicated to prominent Catholics as to Anglican patrons. His music encompassed both instrumental and vocal works, secular and sacred, Anglican and Catholic. He usually wrote his secular vocal music for solo voice accompanied by viol consort (ensemble), rather than the lute preferred by his contemporaries. His greatest instrumental music was for the viol, and he also wrote about 150 pieces - often dance movements - for keyboards.

Byrd wrote many Anglican church music settings, including anthems, but his most sublime music was composed to Latin texts (for the Catholic Church), such as the motet for four voices, Ave verum corpus. His three Masses for three, four, and five voices, use the typical English technique of imitation — melodic phrases repeated by different voices at various points in a composition. This technique allowed a great deal of emotion to be expressed, and in the case of Byrd's Masses — written for the private use of his fellow Catholics, and relatively compressed — the emotion was that of a deeply felt religious belief, a belief under attack: the music is powerful and austere, yet essentially positive.


William Byrd



William Byrd (1543-1623)



An Old Epitaph
Non Nobis Domine
Ave Verum Corpus  Christi

Aoede Consort
  Canto Armonico
  Ave verum corpus
  Ave verum corpus
  Ave verum
Mass for Four Voices












Orff  "Carmina Burana"


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