No event in musical history is more important than the discovery of our lost Tudor compositions. There have been other salient instances of loss and neglect--Bach's B Minor Mass was first performed ninety-five years after it was written; Schubert's posthumous works outnumber by ten to one those published in his lifetime--but there has been no other case in which a people with a great musical position has allowed it to lapse entirely for three centuries, and during this time has contentedly borne the reproach of unproductiveness. A generation ago the available amount of Tudor music was confined to a few slender volumes ill-edited and misunderstood: now the number of compositions published or ready for publication probably exceeds a thousand.
The causes of the loss are not difficult to determine. None of the Tudor music was printed in score; part books were easily mutilated or mislaid, the fashion of music underwent in the seventeenth century a series of rapid changes, the old polyphony became obsolete, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the speech of Byrd and Tallis was treated almost as a dead language. The well-meant but misdirected efforts of the Musical Antiquarian Society only rendered obscure what was already unfamiliar: the Church music shrank to a few anthems, the madrigals were forced into metrical systems for which they had never been intended, the clavier pieces were laid aside, with the harpsichord, in the dusty corners of the museum. It is not too much to say that any one who, thirty years ago, had estimated our Tudor