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Byrd [Hardcover]

Kerry McCarthy

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Book Description

March 13 2013 Master Musicians Series
The foremost composer under the reign of Elizabeth I and James I, William Byrd (c. 1540 - 1623) produced countless masses, motets, polyphonic songs, and works for keyboard and instrumental consort, all of which rank among the most unique and inspired works of the late Renaissance. His output was widely admired both at the time and now, and the influence he exerted on his contemporaries and on future generations of English composers was profound. Byrd was especially well-known for his motets, a musical form which he - a practicing Catholic in Anglican England and composer for the English Chapel Royal - especially favored, in spite of the threats of religious persecution he routinely faced. This biography takes a new look at Byrd's music - instrumental and vocal, sacred and secular - and the various documents of his long life. Exploring the musical world in which Byrd grew up, author Kerry McCarthy traces his influence on the English musicians of the early Baroque, many of whom were his students, and takes on the uncomfortable paradoxes of the composer's life as a devout and influential Catholic who spent much of his career in the service of the English Protestant establishment. McCarthy also pays special attention to Byrd's literary background and activities as an older contemporary of Shakespeare who enjoyed close ties to the Elizabethan and Jacobean literary world. A detailed, fresh, and readable account of a composer who was revered by his colleagues as "our Phoenix" and "a Father of Music", Byrd is essential reading for scholars, students, and performers of early music, as well as general readers interested in the musical world of Renaissance England.

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"Byrd" will appeal to a wide range of readers, and there will be few whose
knowledge and appreciation of Byrd's music is not enhanced by the revelations
and discussions within its pages... Throughout, McCarthy's prose is lucid, economical, and easily flowing. With the Latin and the instrumental music she is in part offering elegant summaries of existing literature, yet she is no less illuminating on the English-texted music... [T]his eminently readable book is an expertly planned account of the present state
of Byrd studies." --Renaissance Quarterly

"An excellent survey of the composer's life and music...The book is particularly strong and reliable on assessing the relationship between Byrd's biography and career on the one hand; and his music on the other...McCarthy is thorough, illuminating and penetrating in her analyses...Will suit most who want to explore Byrd in any depth. A reasonably-priced title that can in every way be recommended." --Classical Net

"The book's appendixes set this book apart from other Byrd scholarship...This volume is an excellent addition to any music reference section...Recommended." --Choice

"Kerry McCarthy's fine, thoughtful new book...will now be the starting point for all enthusiasts for [Byrd's] music." --New York Review of Books

About the Author

Kerry McCarthy has taught at Duke University since 2003. Her research explores the music of the English Renaissance and its cultural contexts. Her first book, Liturgy and Contemplation in Byrd's Gradualia, was published by Routledge in 2007.

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