Early Tudor Composers: Biographical Sketches of Thirty-Two Musicians and Composers of the Period 1485-1555

By W. Henry Hadow; William H. Grattan Flood | Go to book overview

IV. William Crane

ALTHOUGH it is unfortunate that Crane's compositions have been lost, or at least have so far eluded discovery, yet his importance as a contributor to the development of Tudor music-drama and his reconstruction of the Chapel Royal music cannot be overlooked. As deputy to Cornish (whose biography has previously been given) he took part in several music-plays, and early attracted the notice of King Henry VIII. Cornish, Kite, and Crane were then prime favourites with the English monarch, and it is remarkable that Kite, who was Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal and was also a Prebendary of Lichfield and Chichester, was promoted to the primatial see of Armagh on October 24, 1513, retiring from same in 1521 for the bishopric of Carlisle.

The earliest official appearance of William Crane in Court records is on June 3, 1509, when, as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, he was appointed by the young King as Water-bailiff of Dartmouth. He took part in the Court Revels of November 14, 1510, and again on February 12 and 13, 1511, in which the King was a performer. On August 18, 1511, he was granted certain tenements in London. On October 6, 1512, he was licensed to export six hundred sacks of wool. In 1512, and again in 1513, he received a loan of £1,000 (a large sum in those days); and in July 1513 he paid £94 7s. 1d. for cables, for the King.

On January 6, 1514, Crane took part in Cornish's Mask of The Triumph of Love and Beauty', and he set music for Henry Medwall's Morality, 'The Finding of Truth', which followed the Mask. Professor Wallace, from imperfect knowledge, refers to the author of ' Nature' as 'the impossible Medwell' (sic), but it is now agreed that Henry Medwall (not Medwell) was no unworthy precursor of Shakespeare. I may add that the only known copy of his play, 'Fulgens and Lucrese', printed by John Rastall in 1519, was sold by Sotheby in March 1919, for £3,400.

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