House music for recusants in Elizabethan England: performance practice in the music collection of Edward Paston (1550-1630)

Edward Paston (1550-1630) was very skilled in liberal arts, especially music and poetry. His love of music is reflected in his having gathered one of the largest collections of music manuscripts from Elizabethan and early Jacobean times. The collection is very important as it holds unique copies of many compositions by some of the best-known composers from the Renaissance including Byrd. This thesis investigates the idea of the Paston collection as a performing collection within the historical, cultural, and musical context of 16th century England. The study presents Edward Paston as a personification of some of the ideals in Castiglione’s The Courtier, and it also discusses Paston’s role within his social milieu mostly formed by the recusants’circle. This is followed by a presentation of the musical traditions that Paston presumably knew as well as a study of the collection within this context. By presenting this socio-cultural and musical framework, the intent is to arrive at a better understanding of the collection in relation to house music making in Edward Paston’s household and within his circle. The final section of the thesis investigates how the collection was used and how it can be applied to current performance practice.

Sequera, Hector (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.


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