1st Edition

The World of William Byrd
Musicians, Merchants and Magnates

ISBN 9781138268104
Published November 17, 2016 by Routledge
328 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

In The World of William Byrd John Harley builds on his previous work, William Byrd: Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (Ashgate, 1997), in order to place the composer more clearly in his social context. He provides new information about Byrd's youthful musical training, and reveals how in his adult life his music emerged from a series of overlapping family, business and social networks. These networks and Byrd's navigation within and between them are examined, as are the lives of a number of the individuals comprising them.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part 1 Musicians 1: The Byrd family and St Paul's Cathedral; St Paul's: the petitions; City churches and St Mary-at-Hill; John Heywood; Byrd the apprentice musician. Part 2 Merchants: The world of commerce; William Burd the Mercer; Thomas Smythe; Symond Byrd; John Byrd; Philip Smyth; Robert Broughe; Robert Dow the elder; Ferdinando Heybourne (alias Richardson) and Richard Candelar. Part 3 Musicians·2: William Byrd, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal; The Byrd household and recusancy; Byrd the established musician; Landowner and publisher; Byrd's later years. Part 4 Magnates: Social networks; Sir Ralph Bosville; James Good; John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley; Thomas Paget, 3rd Baron Paget; John Petre, 1st Baron Petre; William and Anthony Roper; Raphe Sheldon; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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John Harley has published extensively on Tudor music and musicians, including four books with Ashgate: William Byrd: Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (1997), Orlando Gibbons and the Gibbons Family of Musicians (1999), William Byrd's Modal Practice (2005) and The World of William Byrd (2010).


’... a superb book, essential reading for everyone interested in Byrd, the Elizabethan period, and the social fabric of the period.’ Richard Turbet, University of Aberdeen ’[The] archival detail [...] helps to make a larger point, that the Byrds were not a family of musicians but a family of merchants... biographies of many other people with links to Byrd build a rich picture of the life of commerce he would have fallen into naturally if he hadn't shown such precocious talent for music.’ Times Literary Supplement '... a most welcome addition... A must read for all who love Byrd's music and who are interested in the world in which he lived.' Early Music America 'Emulating William Byrd's own mastery of counterpoint, John Harley brings together every individual known to have had significant contact with the composer and, with Byrd himself as the cantus firmus, narrates how they and their activities interacted with and impinged upon Byrd.' The Consort 'This is a very rich, well-written book.' The Diapason 'Each of the book's four parts adds to an intricately and sensitively designed mosaic of the complex and volatile world of mid- and late-sixteenth-century England that is the context within which Byrd's music [...] should be understood. With its refreshing approach to the study of early modern English music and musicians, this book would primarily appeal to music historians, but its thoroughly researched panorama and vivid descriptions are doubtlessly apt to attract a wider range of readers interested in the musical and social history of sixteenth-century England.' Renaissance Quarterly 'John Harley's impressive and exhaustive research into the life and work of William Byrd led to his fine book William Byrd: Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (Ashgate, 1997)... [F]urther findings are now published in this sequel.' The Viola da Gamba Society Journal 'Corrective and authoritative: adjectives which apply to the book as a whole.' Musical Times