O Mistris Myne
This keyboard work, copied by Francis Tregian into the famous Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, owes much of its wistful melancholy to Thomas Morely’s original lute song, of which the last line states “…youth’s a stuff will not endure”. Byrd’s unique series of variations explores the texture and techniques of the Italian madrigal in Elizabethan form. The first two variations use dance rhythms, the third employs typical ‘division’ technique, which breaks the left hand into small note values, while the melody floats above. The fourth variation breaks the strict rhythmic bonds of the first ones. The last variation dramatically reinforces the final words of the song by setting the melody in the minor key. Byrd was famous as a composer of Catholic Church music, and his contrapuntal mastery is evident in every variation of this piece.
Large works are available either complete or as
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