John Bull

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Born: 1562

Died: 12 March 1628


The entry in Cathedral Music, Volume 2 (William Boyce) reads:

John Bull was educated under William Blitheman, Organist to Queen Elizabeth, and appointed one of the Gentlemen of her Chapel in January 1585. In the year 1586 he was admitted Batchelor of Music at Oxford, and soon after commenced Doctor in the said faculty at Cambridge. On the demise of Blitheman in 1591 he succeeded him as Organist of the Royal Chapel: And upon the establishment of Gresham College in 1596 he was chosen Music Professor there, by the recommendation of the Queen.

About the year 1601 his health being much impaired, he was advised to travel, and had leave given him to put in a Deputy to supply his places during his absence, which Substitute was Thomas Bird, Son of William Bird of the Queen's Chapel: He visited France, Spain, and Germany, and continued abroad somewhat more than a twelvemonth, when he returned, after having given such specimens of his musical abilities as to raise his character to an uncommon degree of reputation.

On the 16th of July 1607, when King James the First, together with Prince Henry, and many of the chief Nobility dined with the Merchant-Taylor's Company at their Hall in the city of London, Dr. Bull, who was a member of that Company, entertained this Royal and Noble Assembly, by playing on an Organ placed there for that purpose.

His performances on this Instrument were esteemed superior to those of any contemporary Artist, and it required no small portion of merit to excell, for by the generality of the compositions for keyed Instruments of that time, not his only, but those of Tallis, William Bird, Orlando Gibbons, &c, it appears that great practice was necessary to have acquired an easy execution of them.

In the December of 1607 he resigned his Professorship in Gresham College, but continued in England until the year 1613, when he took a final leave of it, and engaged in the service of the Arch-duke of Austria, in the Netherlands, being then fifty years of age. He afterwards removed from thence into Germany; the latest account received, left him at Hamburgh in 1622: How long he lived after this is not certainly known, nor where he died, for some have said it was at the last-mentioned place, others at Lubeck.

His productions are valuable and numerous, many of them vocal, and a great part designed solely for the Organ, Virginal, &c; very few have been printed, and those only in detached and miscellaneous publications.

View the Wikipedia article on John Bull.

List of choral works

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