IT is strange that the history of the English Chapel Royal has not yet been adequately treated, save for the account given in Rimbault's Cheque Book of the Chapel Royal ( 1870), which, however, begins only with the year 1485. Yet Gilbert Banaster deserves to be held in remembrance as a distinguished Master of the Choristers of the Chapel Royal, as well as an early Tudor composer. His predecessor, Henry Abyngdon, had been Master from 1455 to 1478, and had made the singers of the Chapel Royal famous, so much so, that in October 1471, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, had sent his Chapel Master (Rayner) to pick out some good English singers and musicians for Milan ( Calendar of State Papers, Milan, p. 161).
Up to the present the only account of Banaster is the brief notice of G. E. P. Arkwright, in the second edition of Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (vol. i, p. 179). Henry Davey, in his History of English Music (new edition, 1921), dismisses Banaster in a couple of lines, although acknowledging that he was an important composer of the later 1sth century'; and he insinuates that his Mastership of the Children of the Chapel Royal began only in 1482, this being, in reality, the date of the confirmation of his appointment.
Gilbert Banaster (whose name also appears as Banester and Banastre) was born circa 1445, and on September 29, 1478, was appointed Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal. He is said to have been a son of Henry Banaster, Yeoman of the Crown, who died in 1456, and it is not unlikely that he was a boy of the Chapel Royal, under Henry Abyngdon, becoming a Gentleman of the Chapel in 1475, the same time as William Newark.
Banaster's appointment as Master was formally ratified by Patent under Privy Seal dated Westminster, February 6, 1478/9,
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Publication information: Book title: Early Tudor Composers:Biographical Sketches of Thirty-Two Musicians and Composers of the Period 1485-1555. Contributors: W. Henry Hadow - Author, William H. Grattan Flood - Author. Publisher: Oxford university Press, H. Milford. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1925. Page number: 13.
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