English composers and instrument-makers played a major role in the evolution of keyboard instruments and the development of keyboard music. In this meticulously researched and erudite study, John Caldwell, a noted musicologist and Lecturer in Music at Oxford, examines the history of English keyboard art, from the introduction of the organ to the West (ca. 756), through the greatest phase of English keyboard music (the "virginalists"), to the final contributions of John Field at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Beginning with the earliest known keyboard music, the Robertsbridge Codex (ca. 1325), the author traces the spread of the organ and the liturgical factors that influenced medieval organ building and organ music, especially the works of such early liturgical composers as Philip ap Rhys, Thomas Preston, John Redford, and Thomas Tallis. Subsequent chapters deal with sacred and secular music of the sixteenth century and the forms of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods: plainsong settings and fugal forms, secular variations, and the dance. Throughout, the text is profusely illustrated with musical examples from rare and valuable primary sources: The Mulliner Book, My Ladye Nevells Booke, The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, The Dublin Virginal Book, and others. These document the enormous contributions of John Bull, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tomkins, and other early masters.
Additional topics treated here with impeccable scholarship and accuracy are the development of voluntaries and fugues for the organ in the eighteenth century; the influence of Handel; the evolution of suites and lessons for the harpsichord; the effect of historical events — the Civil War, Reformation, and Restoration — on English music; continental influences, and much more. The study concludes with the development of the pianoforte, the eclipse of the harpsichord, and the rise of the pedal organ. Two detailed appendices list the sources of the music and relevant books and articles. In short, this work provides the serious student not only with a concise and scholarly summary of a great musical tradition, but with a wealth of bibliographic and other material for further study.
Reprint of the Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973 edition.
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