Thursday, October 01, 2020

Thursday music spot: two William Byrd motets performed by VOCES8

VOCES8 performs William Byrd’s double motet ‘Ne Irascaris Domine’ and ‘Civitas Sancti Tui’ in the Gresham Centre in London. 

William Byrd was a brilliant composer of church music who lived from about 1540 to 1623, which was a difficult time for anyone involved with the church who had strong religious opinions. His birth family appear to have been protestants and in the early part of his career he mostly composed church music for the same Anglican church which, in later life after converting to Catholicism, he would be fined quite considerable sums of money for the time for persistently refusing to attend. 

Byrd got into hot water under Both Elizabeth the First and James the Sixth and First, for having respectively one friend who was suspected of being implicated in the Throckmorton plot to depose Elizabeth in favour of Mary Queen of Scots, and later others who were executed for complicity in the gunpowder plot to send James and his parliament into orbit. 

Despite this he managed to die of natural causes at an advanced age and a wealthy man, mainly because so many people of both the Catholic and Protestant persuasions were very fond of his music.

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