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William Byrd and His Contemporaries

Essays and a Monograph

Philip Brett (Author), Joseph Kerman (Editor), Davitt Moroney (Editor)


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Throughout his distinguished career, Philip Brett wrote about the music of the Tudor period. He carried out pathbreaking work on the life and music of William Byrd (c.1540-1623), both as an editor and a historian. He also studied other composers working during the period, including John Taverner, Thomas Tallis, Orlando Gibbons, and Thomas Weelkes. Collecting these influential essays together for the first time, this volume is a tribute to Brett’s agile mind and to his incomparable skill at synthesizing history and musical analysis.

Byrd was a prominent court composer, but also a Catholic. Besides important instrumental music and English songs, he wrote a great deal of sacred music, some for his Protestant patrons, and some for his fellow Catholics who celebrated mass in secret. Ranging from the report of Brett’s findings on the Paston manuscripts, an unpublished round-table paper that he delivered a few months before his untimely death, to his monograph-length study of Byrd’s magnum opus, Gradualia, the essays collected here consider both sacred and secular music, and vocal and instrumental traditions, providing an intimate glimpse into what was unique about Byrd and his music. Elegantly written, with the particular brilliance for which Brett was known, this book opens a fascinating window onto one of the most fruitful periods of English musical history.

1. William Byrd: Traditionalist and Innovator
2. Homage to Taverner in Byrd’s Masses
3. Thomas Tallis: Facing the Music
4. Edward Paston: A Norfolk Gentleman and His Musical Collection
Appendix A: Extracts from the Will of Edward Paston Dealing with His Collection
Appendix B: List of Manuscripts
5. Musicae Modernae Laus: Geoffrey Whitney’s Tributes to the Lute and Its Players
6. The Two Musical Personalities of Thomas Weelkes
7. Orlando Gibbons: English Music for the Scottish Progress of 1617
8. Word Setting in the Songs of Byrd
9. New Reflections on William Byrd
10. Prefaces to Gradualia

Appendix: Publications by Philip Brett on Elizabethan-Jacobean Music
Philip Brett (1937-2002) was Distinguished Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to dozens of scholarly editions of English Renaissance music and pioneering articles in a wide variety of fields, he is author of Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes and coeditor of Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, Cruising the Performative: Interventions into the Representation of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Sexuality, and Decomposition: Post-Disciplinary Performance. Joseph Kerman is Professor Emeritus of Music and Davitt Moroney is Professor of Music and University Organist at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This is superior scholarship that establishes very significant aspects of Byrd's music and its history, and the volume will be an important landmark in Byrd scholarship. The range of methods and subjects itself is admirable; the editors have chosen writings that represent substantial and first-rate study that are either out-of-print or inaccessible. This is an outstanding work."—William Mahrt, editor of Convention in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Music

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