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Parsons, Robert -

Robert Parsons (b. ca. 1535, place unknown; d. Newark-Upon-Trent, 1572?)

Little is known about the sixteenth-century English composer Robert Parsons, although he has a fairly substantial collection of surviving works. Parsons was associated with the Chapel Royal in England. He was appointed a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal on October 17, 1563, and was involved with the choirboy plays at the Chapel before that date. It is believed he wrote several songs for those plays.

Parson’s surviving compositional output includes many sacred vocal works, secular vocal works, and a number of instrumental works. He made a substantial contribution to the early Elizabethan instrumental repertoire, with some of his instrumental pieces performed by Court musicians. Characteristic of Parsons’s music are rich harmonic textures with extensive use of dissonance, both passing and suspended. Parsons chose to set much of his sacred writing to Latin texts, despite the fact that Elizabeth I and the Church of England favored English texts. These Latin settings and motets display Parsons’s technical virtuosity and compositional maturity.

Records suggest that Parsons drowned in the River Trent in January 1572. His immediate successor as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal was William Byrd, who became one of the best-known English Renaissance composers. In his eulogy to Parsons, Robert Dow stated, “Parsons, you who were so great in the springtime of life, How great you would have been in the autumn, had not death intervened."

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Total 1 Composition
Series: Songs (Spiritual), Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Choir>SAATB, Difficulty: easy to medium
Total 1 Composition