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Profile of William Byrd



Uncertain, probably between 1540 - 1543


Uncertain, either London or Lincolnshire


July 4, 1623 in Stondon Massey, Essex

Also known as:

He was known as the foremost composer of the Elizabethan age, "The English Palestrina" and "Father of Music." He was organist at Lincoln Cathedral and helped develop English madrigals.

Type of Compositions:

Byrd wrote keyboard music, madrigals, church music in Latin and English, vocal and consort music.


He was a student of Thomas Tallis and later served as organist at Chapel Royal, a post he shared with Tallis.

Musical Work:

In 1575, Queen Elizabeth 1 granted Byrd and Tallis the right to print music and music paper. Cantiones Sacrae, a collection of 34 motets (18 of which was written by Byrd and the rest was penned by Tallis), was published that same year. His other works were published collectively as "Psalms, Sonets & Songs," "Songs of Sundrie Natures," "Cantiones Sacrae" (2 books) and "Gradualia" (2 books).

In general, Byrd published 3 collections of motets in Latin, 2 anthologies of music in English, 3 mass settings, 2 books of Gradualia and other church music pieces.

Interesting Facts:

Byrd's "Psalms, Sonets & Songs," which was published in 1588, was written after the death of his wife Julian (d. 1586) and his mentor Thomas Tallis (d. 1585).
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