Music from the Age of Shakespeare: A Cultural History

Music from the Age of Shakespeare: A Cultural History

Music from the Age of Shakespeare: A Cultural History

Music from the Age of Shakespeare: A Cultural History


This book introduces every important aspect of the Elizabethan music world. In ten scrupulously researched yet accessible chapters, Lord examines the lives of composers, the evolution of musical instruments, the Elizabethan system of musical notation, and the many textures and traditions of Elizabethan music.


Music does not exist in a vacuum. Social, economic, and political situations affect the arts in concrete ways. Class divisions, economic resources of patrons and citizens, and the stability or instability of government may have affected what Elizabethan musicians wrote and for whom they were writing. It may also have affected how they supported themselves, with what frequency their works were published, and whether they were repressed in any way because of their political views or religious beliefs.

In turn, musicians tend to reflect the society in which they live. What languages did Elizabethan musicians use in their vocal works? Could they expect to find a patron or a buying public? Were citizens able to afford instruments or music so that a musician would have a market for his works? What sort of music did aristocrats want to hear? What types of music did people dance to? What styles of music did religious institutions prefer? Musicians were attuned to their times and wrote their music to fit the society in which they lived.

This book is concerned with the ways in which music fit into the lives of English people living during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth's reign (1558-1603) began after a turbulent era of religious and political upheaval. Because of her relative religious tolerance and her diplomacy, Queen Elizabeth created a sense of stability for her citizens that they had never known. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, England blossomed, entering into a “Golden Age” of culture in which music played a major part.

This book introduces the world of Elizabethan music to the lay reader.

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