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William Byrd

William Byrd (1540(?)-1623)


English composer of the Tudor era. Despite his conversion to Roman Catholicism at a time of great religious uncertainty in England, he was able to forge a successful career in the service of monarchs both Catholic and Protestant. This is due in no small part to his musical adaptability - he was able to tailor his compositional style to the changing demands of the religious authorities of his turbulent times, with the result that his output contains both austere, homophonic English-language works such as the Protestants favoured, and the more ornate, Latin polyphony that was preferred by some of the Catholic rulers. Through it all, though, runs a recognisable individual voice that seems strengthened, rather than weakened, by the various upheavals he lived through.

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