CHAPTER 26 MUSIC INELIZABETHAN ENGLAND:EARLY VOCAL MUSIC
THE RENAISSANCE IN ENGLAND• The Renaissance arrived late to England (about 1560) – but stayed longer (until about 1620).• The heyday of the English Renaissance thus extends only slightly more than the life of William Shakespeare (1564-1614).
King Henry VIIIThe English Renaissance, and the Elizabethan Age, was preceded bythe rule of her father King Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547). Henry employedfifty-eight musicians and owned several hundred musical instruments. He could play, dance, sing, and even compose. Among the thirty-five secular pieces attributed to him is Pastyme with GoodCompanye .The beginning of Henry’s Pastyme with Good Companye, a fine example ofan English partsong - a strophic song with English text intended to be sungby three or four voices in a predominantly homophonic music style and withlively rhythms.
HENRY VIII AND CHURCH REFORM• As the consequence of his attempts to secure papal sanction of a divorce in 1528 – Henry VIII did away with the Catholic Church in England and in its – place established the Church of England (now called Anglican Church in England and Episcopal Church in the United States).• By 1547 religious people in England were of one of three persuasions: – Catholics – Anglicans – Puritans (those who wanted a more austere Protestant religion in England).• The newly reformed Anglican service consisted of – Prayer (a compression of Matins and Lauds), – Mass – Evensong (a similar compression of Vespers and Compline).
QUEEN ELIZABETH I• For most of the second half of the sixteenth century England was ruled by a remarkable woman, Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603).• Elizabeth studied – architecture – mathematics – astronomy – geography – French, Italian, Latin, and even Greek.• She also played the virginal (a small harpsichord) and athletically danced the galliard into her 60s.
A portrait of Princess Elizabeth Tudor at the age of thirteenShe holds a book, andanother rests on alectern.Both prominentlydisplayed to symbolizeElizabeth’s extraordinarycapacity for learning.
RELIGIOUS MUSIC UNDER ELIZABETH• The English chapel followed the rites of the Church of England (Anglican Church).• At the same time, Elizabeth was tolerant of Puritan music and musicians – as well as Catholic music and musicians.
THOMAS TALLIS• Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585), the most renowned musician of the royal chapel early in Elizabeth’s rule – wrote a variety of music that was suitable for the Catholic, Anglican, or Puritan service.• In 1567 Tallis provided eight brief, syllabic compositions that could accompany an English verse translation of the Psalter by Bishop Matthew Parker – one setting for each of the eight church modes.• This was simple, unadorned music appropriate for either the Anglican or Puritan church.
The beginning of Thomas Tallis’s setting of Psalm 2Here Tallis has taken the old Gregorian psalm tone for the Phrygianmode (mode 3) and placed it in the tenor voice.In later arrangements of Tallis’s psalm, the tune is placed in thesoprano voice. It is still known today from a beautiful setting by RalphVaughan Williams, his Fantasy on a Theme of Thomas Tallis .
WILLIAM BYRD• When Tallis died in 1585, his place as the preeminent composer of the Elizabethan age was assumed by William Byrd (1543-1623).• Byrd remained true to his Catholic faith – protected by Queen Elizabeth, in an increasingly anti-Catholic country.• For the Catholic service he wrote Masses for three, four, and five voices, respectively.• Byrd also composed secular music – lute ayres – consort ayres – music for solo lute – solo keyboard – viol consort • as well as a large body of religious music for the Anglican Church.
THE ANTHEM• The anthem was the musical staple of the Anglican Church.• An anthem is a sacred vocal composition, much like a motet but sung in English – in honor of the Lord or invoking the Lord to protect and preserve the English king or queen.• An anthem might be sung at – Morning Service – the Anglican Mass – Evensong – as well as at any occasion of state.
BYRD REFASHIONS PSALM 21 TO SERVE IN AN ANTHEM FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH Psalm 21, verses 1, 2, and 4: Byrd’s text in honor of ElizabethThe King shall joy in thy strength, O Lord. O Lord, make thy servant, Elizabeth our Queen to rejoice in thy strength;Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, Give her her heart’s desire,and hast not withholden the request and deny not the request ofof his lips. of her lips.He asked life of thee, and thou gavest in him, But prevent [protect] her with thine everlasting blessing,even length of days for ever and ever. and give her a long life, ev’n for ever and ever. Amen.
THE STYLE OF BYRD’S ANTHEMS• Byrd’s anthems are similar in style to the imitative polyphony created by Catholic composers on the Continent at this time – among them Lassus and Palestrina.• Like other English composers of this period, Byrd makes use of the English cross (false) relation – the simultaneous or adjacent appearance in different voices of two conflicting notes with the same letter name.
A section of Byrd’s anthem O Lord, make thy servant, ElizabethThe English cross relationship (see asterisks) occurs because goodvoice leading requires to the soprano voice to have a B flat and thealto voice, simultaneously to sing a B natural.
AMEN CADENCE• Another special feature of English church music at this time is the preference for a lengthy Amen cadence – an emphatic conclusion to a psalm provided by the old Hebrew word for “and so be it.”• The Amen cadence traditional makes use of a plagal cadence (a term drawn from the Greek word plagalis – meaning “derived from” or “not direct.”• The plagal cadence is a IV-I.
The Amen cadencewith which William Byrd concludes his anthem O Lord, make thy servant, Elizabeth
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