Session 24 (Themed Papers): Musicians in Tudor London

Tuesday, 7 July 2021, 9.00-10.30, Room 219 | Chair: Katherine Butler (University of Northumbria Newcastle)

Session Abstract

Throughout the Tudor period, London steadily grew in influence and population size. As a result of both this expansion and the city’s relationship with the Tudor court, London drew musicians from near and far. The three papers on this panel examine several distinct yet related aspects of London’s musical culture over the course of roughly a fifty year period. The first paper, on the composer and dramatist John Redford, reminds us that London was often the last—but rarely the first—stop in a musician’s career; London-based musicians also frequently maintained ties to their earlier places of employment. The second paper, in focusing on the work patterns of Tudor parish clerks, demonstrates the extent to which London’s musicians relied on a close-knit, yet extensive network of fellow professionals once they arrived in the capital. Finally, the third paper in this session underlines how London-based musicians often played a role in court politics, examining a specific set of motets crafted to promote the ‘correct’ way to worship in Elizabethan England. Tracing connections between individuals, musical performances, and political power, this panel thus highlights the complexity of musical life in London as the city underwent a period of rapid development.

John Redford’s career | Magnus Williamson (Newcastle University)

John Redford (d. 1547) has long been known to have worked at Old St Paul’s for at least the last thirteen years of his life. New discoveries on Redford’s early career were revealed in 2017 (at MedRen Brussels), namely his first known workplace: the Hospital of St Cross, Winchester (Hampshire). In this paper I trace the implications of this two-centred career, legal transactions relating to the Redfords of Surrey, and the links these suggest between Redford and the senior clerics, Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester and Dean John Incent of London.

“To the Clarke and his company”: Contingent church musicians in Tudor London | Anne Heminger (University of Tampa)

In sixteenth-century London, parish musicians formed a large and well organized group whose work took them beyond their own institutions. By tracing employment patterns among London-based singers, this paper argues that most church musicians were neither full-time singers, nor dependent on a single job; rather, they operated in much the same manner as professional musicians today, often leaving one job for another only to return the following year, performing in pickup ensembles organized by colleagues, and trading their services for non- monetary compensation. Hence, their experiences highlight the precarity of musical employment in the Tudor period.

Good subjects and good Christians: Sacred music and loyalty in the early Elizabethan court | Alexandra Siso (University of Colorado Boulder)

In the early Elizabethan reign, composers of the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey created several Latin polyphonic settings of Psalm 14, Domine quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo. These settings are one of the few examples of Elizabethan composers coming together to give voice to one unified message to English Protestant and Catholic audiences: “Who shall dwell in thy tabernacle?” Their performance served as advice and a warning: only the right behavior would be rewarded with entry to the Elizabethan tabernacle, the private chambers of the court, and ultimately to the monarch. This studies the Domine quis habitabit pieces and their context in the culture and society of the Elizabethan court.