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
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XXIV. William Whytbroke

THE name of William Whytbroke is familiar to all students of John Day Certaine Notes set for the in foure and three partes to be song at the Mornynge, Communion, and Evening Praier, a rare work published in 1560 containing his 'Let your light so shine'. Other pieces by him include the added tenor part to Taverner's beautiful Latin motet,1 'Audivi media nocte' (to be found in Add. MSS., Brit. Mus., 17802-17805), endorsed, 'Pars ad placitum W. Whitbroke fecit'. In addition the well-known Mass, 'Upon the square' (Add. MSS., Brit. Mus.), testifies to his powers as a composer. But, again, as has been so frequently stated in the present book, the biography of Whytbroke has long remained a desideratum. Mr. Royle Shore2, in an excellent paper on 'The Early Harmonized Chants of the Church of England', recently admitted that as regards Whytbroke and Knight, nothing apparently is known.

As will be seen, it is quite a mistake to imagine that Whytbroke composed to any extent under Elizabeth: the fact is that his creative period was during the years 1530-56, and all his best work was written on the lines of the ancient Catholic liturgy. He also indulged in secular music, as may be evidenced from an imperfect copy of 'Hugh Ashton's Maske', now in the Manuscript Collection of Christ Church, Oxford ( Arkwright Catalogue, part 1, 1915).

Of the birth and early education of Whytbroke no particulars whatever have come down, but we find him at Cardinal College, Oxford, in 1525--a contemporary of Taverner--and he was ordained a priest in 1529/30. At this date he must have exhibited musical powers of no mean order, for in May 1530 Dean Higden, of Cardinal College, entrusted him with the delicate mission of investigating the reported encomiums on a Mr. Benbow, who was

____________________
1
See Tudor Church Music, vol. iii, p. 35.
2
Whytbroke Magnificat (edited by Burgess and Shore) has been issued as No. 898 of Novello's Parish Choir Book.

-89-

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