Just like his teacher and later friend Thomas Tallis, William Byrd (c. 1539/40-1623) lived to a very old age for his time. The two were also linked as entrepreneurs after Queen Elizabeth I granted them the exclusive right to publish printed music in 1575, which Byrd exercised alone after Tallis’ death – albeit without resounding success. And just like Tallis, Byrd also enjoyed the highest royal and aristocratic protection. This was also necessary because during the religious upheavals of the era, Byrd stubbornly adhered to the traditional Catholicism, which is why he repeatedly came into conflict with the authorities. The greatest difference is in the artistic field. For Byrd, who had already received his training in the royal court chapel, which he then rejoined as a mature man, was not only a member of a different generation that stood at the epochal threshold to tonal music around 1600, but the much more universal musician. Byrd not only left significant church music for the Anglican state church and for the suppressed Catholic services, but was also the central master of music for the virginal, an English pre-form of the harpsichord. His output for the virginal is as extensive as it is varied, with the formal model of slow pavane and rapid gagliarde standing out, to which Byrd returned again and again in a magnificent group of works.
As of September 2021