John Connould

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Born: 1645

Died: 3 May 1708


Like many of his immediate contemporaries, not much is known about Connould’s early life. He was born during the last few years of the English Civil War, and grew up during the British Commonwealth. This was a time that was difficult for church musicians and clergy alike, and naturally not much information survives about many people in these professions. His name and arms suggest a link to the Connolly family, which might imply some connection to Ireland.

After the Restoration, we know a good deal about Connould’s life and work. He was admitted as sizar to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1663, graduating in 1668. In 1670, he joined Norwich Cathedral Choir as a lay clerk, beginning an association with the Choir and Cathedral that lasted for several decades. Later that same year, he was ordained, and became a minor canon. In subsequent years, he would add to this role, working as gospeller, precentor and sacrist. But his role as priest was not restricted to the Cathedral alone. He worked both out in the county, including at Catton and Catfield, but also in the city itself, working at St. Peter Mancroft, and St. Simon and St. Jude, amongst others, and finally holding the post of vicar of the grand church of St. Stephen.

It is for his work at St. Stephen’s that Connould is best known today. In particular, he is remembered for his courageous actions on religious tolerance. In the 1680s, he protected the prominent Baptist minister Thomas Grantham against threats from within the city and county, and gave him a safe burial in St. Stephen’s itself. Such actions were unusual for the time, and are very much to Connould’s credit.

Connould’s surviving music consists of two complete services, eight verse anthems, and at least three psalm chants. His compositions survive entirely in working manuscripts heralding from Norwich Cathedral, dating from between roughly 1670 and 1690. Norwich was an exciting centre of composition during Connould’s tenure, with many local composers writing new works for the Choir and organ, both newly restored after the Interregnum. Much of this music is progressive and elaborate, significantly more so than other institutions at the time. Norwich, perhaps due to its safe location, the survival of the majority of its adult singers, and the tireless work of members of the Cathedral who kept many pre-Restoration music manuscripts safe, seems to have avoided much of the serious damage felt by other institutions during the Interregnum.

Connould was one of Norwich’s more progressive composers, as evidenced both by his harmonic writing, and by his notation. In a period when many composers were still adopting mensural practices, Connould was pushing for more modern notation styles, including use of a minim tactus, and corresponding short note values. His music is exciting and varied, demonstrating considerable technical skill. His Service in F, which includes sections in 8 parts, is worth particular note.

List of choral works

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