William Byrd

A Composer of the Renaissance

Early Life, Summarized

Byrd was born into a religious family of four sisters and two brothers in 1543, however his early childhood is disputed because there was so little documentation of what went on in his life. What is known about him is that he was a child prodigy of music, which he had a strong passion for. During his early years, he was a choir boy at London's Royal Chapel until 1568. In addition, more was known about him when he took lessons from another famous composer, Thomas Tallis, which they would later become patronized by Queen Elizabeth the First.



  • Byrd was born
  • Tutored by Thomas Tallis
  • Married
  • Became an organist
  • Queen Elizabeth declares him as Gentleman of the Church
  • Byrd's mentor, Thomas Tallis, passes away
  • Byrd gains a monopoly in music production


  • Moved from London to Essex
  • Byrd passes away

Major Works

  • Composed in 1605, for Roman Catholic Church
My Lady Neville's Book
  • Supposedly written for Queen Elizabeth
Psalmes, Sonnets, & Songs of Sadnes and Pietie
  • Written in 1588, contained MANY Madrigals- emotion expressed in vocal songs


  • Composed in 1590-1600, exact date unknown
  • Byrd's most significant song he composed
  • First song to lack a liturgical background- holy prayer
  • What makes this piece so interesting is that it influenced other composers to write different songs without liturgical background
Capitalism - Commissioned by Byrd's patrons, such as Queen Elizabeth

Humanism - Singers express emotion through song


Kyrie from Missa for 4 voices - W.Byrd by enricator


"William Byrd". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2013
Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much information, had to cut down, rich in it, though.
"William Byrd." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.
Best source in general.
"William Byrd." 2013. The Famous People website. Jan 17 2013, 18:40
Went more into detail about Kyrie.


Kyrie - http://www.lewesvoiceworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ByrdKyrie-3parts.png

Portrait of William Byrd - http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/_/9272473/William+Byrd+Byrd.jpg


Kyrie - https://soundcloud.com/enricator/kyrie-from-missa-for-4-voices