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0120100329Donald Macleod follows William Byrd through his early years.
Listen to his music and you'd think 16th-century William Byrd was the very model of an Elizabethan citizen, a refined character capable of producing some of the most beautiful music for the church ever composed, as well as inventive keyboard and vocal pieces which charm the ear and the mind in equal measure.
But, as Donald Macleod discovers, Byrd was also a complex man who pushed the religious mores of his age to the limit, and simultaneously indulged in a lifetime of petty-fogging legal cases which even Victor Meldrew would have been proud of.
His story takes us to Lincoln, where he took his first major job.
The atmosphere couldn't have been more unsuitable; a Royal inspection had decided that the music was far too lavish for the new Protestant regime, and recommended not just simplifying the worship but even the dismantling of the organ.
But this kind of challenge was to be the making of Byrd; again and again he would find ways to work the system, and was quickly found lavishing the cathedral's money on organ upgrades and scouting for new chorister talent.
Later in the week we focus on squarely on his Catholic defiance, in works such as 'Why do I use my paper, pen and ink' which refers explicitly to Edmund Campion, brutally executed at Tyburn.
And we hear how Byrd was repeatedly reported to the authorities for failing to attend church, and even prevented his servants from worshipping.
His personal connections read like an episode of Crimewatch, countless leading Catholics whose names were circulated by the authorities for their religious dissent.
But we also explore another, more human side to Byrd: his irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit.
This saw him take one of music's greatest ever financial risks as he set up the country's first ever music publishing concern with his great mentor Thomas Tallis, and which at first pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy.
And as well as musical interests, we find him pursuing a hectic life as a property speculator, forever in the courts evicting tenants, or battling over some arcane right of way.
The week begins, though, with a fresh look at Byrd's musical beginnings.
New research has revealed that he grew up in Lincoln, not London as previously thought, and also allows us a fascinating glimpse of his bookcase, home to the most controversial texts of the day.
0220100330Donald Macleod follows Byrd as he took up his first major appointment.
Donald Macleod follows Byrd as he takes up his first major appointment at Lincoln Cathedral.
It should be the perfect opportunity for the ambitious composer to flourish, but soon finds him having to use all his diplomatic skills to work around the restrictive rules of the Protestant authorities.
0320100331Donald Macleod focuses on Byrd's appointment to the Chapel Royal.
Donald Macleod rejoins the Elizabethan composer as he takes up an appointment at the Chapel Royal.
It soon sees him taking the biggest financial risk of his career as he sets up the country's first ever major music publishing concern, a venture which quickly runs into difficulties.
0420100401Donald Macleod explores how Byrd walked a tight-rope between Catholic and Protestant.
Donald Macleod follows the composer as he walks the most precarious of tight-ropes, risking everything with the publication of a DIY 'mass kit' for Catholics, whilst doing everything he could to pacify the Protestant authorities.
05 LAST20100402Donald Macleod on how Byrd had the opportunity to fulfil some of his musical ambitions.
Early retirement gives Byrd the opportunity not just to complete some of his musical ambitions but also to try to settle numerous legal disputes which had dogged him for much of his later life.
Not that it seemed to bother him - Byrd was always a man to relish his chance to make a case, as we find in his continued court appearances to defend his own religious activities.
Presented by Donald Macleod 

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