The Gramophone, August, 1923

WILLIAM BYRD By Rev. Edmund H. Fel1owes, Mus.Doc.

IT has been well said that the commemoration of the tercentenary of the death of William Byrd has been unique, because i t has represented a starting point in the knowledge of his music rather than a notable milestone reached in the course of a long-sustained reputation. I t has, in fact, been the means of introducing to the larger :public an entirely new name among great composers. Two decades ago not one Englishman in ten thousand knew the name of Byrd, but during the past month, both in

Prague as well as up and down their own country; and the records are of immense value, not only because they enable this delightful form of music to be heard in the remotest corners of the globe, but also because they provide singers and students with an admirable exposition of the true method of interpreting a madrigal. With splendid enterprise the Gramophone Company joined in the general effort to do justice to Byrd's memory this summer by publishing no less than eight double-sided records,

which represent in a very

London and the provinces, programmes made up of Byrd's music exclusively were drawing large audiences, not because i t was the fashion of the moment, nor yet because a centenary celebration invariably exercises some magnetic influence and arouses public curiosity, but because Byrd's music, after having lain ยท in almost complete neglect for three centuries, was in these latter days appealing to Englishmen throughout the country as a thing of rare beauty and force; and the crowds that assembled in cathedrals and concert rooms, m village churches and m remote country gardens, were profoundly stirred by i t . The tercentenary of Byrd's death has come as a climax t o the remarkable revival of taste for the music which English-

complete manner the manysided character of the work of this most versatile musiClan; excerpts from the Masses, and the brilliant motet, Exsurge Domine, illustrate his Latin church music; and th ere are English anthems and an extract from his " Great" Service, besides a complete record of the English Magnificat from the " Short" Service, which should prove of much value to choirmasters in cathedrals as well as in parish churches. This group of records also includes such splendid madrigals as Byrd's This sweet and m erry month of May and Though Amaryllis dance in green-an invaluable record for the instruction of madrigal singers, especially with reference to the more complex rhythmic devices which were so charac-

Dr. Fellowes men composed in the days of Queen Elizabeth; for Byrd was not alone-Morley, Dowland, Wilbye, Weelkes, Orlando Gibbons, and many other great names are among that company who placed England at the head of the musical nations of Europe at the close of the sixteenth century.

The Gramophone Company (H.M.V.) has played a notable part in this revival. Two years ago i t produced three double-sided records of madrigals by Morley, Wilbye, Weelkes, Byrd, Gibbons, and Ford; and this was followed a year later by a second group of the same kind . These records were made by "The English Singers," who have achiev~d such notable success in this type of music in Berlin and teristic of Tudor music. Two of these records deal with Byrd's virginal music, wonderfully played by Mrs. Gordon Woodhouse; while the String Fantasia, published originally in 1611, is completely given on another twosided record.

No one who has a gramophone should be without these records, not only because their old-world character makes them peculiarly attractive, but because their music is as full of vitality to-day as i t was three hundred years ago, and the passage of t ime has in no way impaired i ts marvellous power to delight the ordinary l istener as well as the highly skilled musician.