The Eton Choirbook

A page from the Eton Choirbook

A page from the Eton Choirbook

I’m teaching a survey course in early music at Ryerson University’s Life Institute these days and in my preparations I revisited some music from the Eton Choirbook. It’s a wonderful, wonderful source. If you’re a player of early music and haven’t ever tapped into this music, you really ought to do yourself a favour and check it out.

The largest collection of English sacred music composed during the late fifteenth century, the Choirbook is something we’re very lucky to have. Not burned, bombed or destroyed – sort of miraculous, really, considering the ruination we humans often visit upon our world.  Compiled in the very early days of the sixteenth century (between about 1500 to 1505), it features choral music by the likes of Robert Fayrfax, John Mundy, Nesbitt, Cornyshe and many others. Glorious stuff.

Here’s a lovely example by Fayrfax (1464-1521):

And here’s William Cornysh’s Salve Regina from YouTube:

I’ve used repertoire from this source in numerous workshops and people have always loved it, so if you’re looking for teaching material or for something to play for yourself, go to your nearest music library and have a look!

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