William Byrd

English composer and organist (Lincolnshire, around 1543 - Stondon, Essex, 1623)

English composer and organist from the Renaissance, William Byrd remains with Henry Purcell one of the greatest English composers and one of the 17th century best polyphonists.

Following musical studies, probably with Tallis, Byrd was appointed organist at Lincoln in 1563 and became a member of England Royal Chapel. He obtained, with Tallis, the privilege of printing and selling musical paper. Byrd then published his numerous works, pieces for organ and virginal, masses, cannons, madrigals... His musical production is considerable both in quantity and quality as well as in diversity.

Today, Byrd is considered as of the founders of the Madrigal English School and trained the most brilliant musicians of the next generation (Thomas Morley, John Bull and Orlando Gibbons).

Six key works by William Byrd:

1575: Cantiones sacrae, written with Tallis, a collection of sacred songs dedicated to the queen.
1588 and 1611: Psalms, Sonnets and Songs
1590: This sweet and merry month of May, madrigal for 6 voices
1591: My Ladyes Nevells' Booke, a collection of keyboard pieces including pieces by Byrd.
1611: Parthenia, the first collection of keyboard music printed in England, includes several pieces by Byrd.
1611: "Come woeful Orpheus", madrigal for 5 voices from Psalms, sonnets and songs.