Ferrabosco, Alfonso (d.1661) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 18
Ferrabosco, Alfonso (d.1661)

by John Alexander Fuller Maitland
Contains subarticle John Ferrabosco (d. 1682).

FERRABOSCO, ALFONSO (d. 1661), son of Alfonso Ferrabosco (d. 1628) [q. v.], was probably the ‘Master Alphonso Ferrabosco’ who sang in ‘a Hymenœi’ on Twelfth Night 1606, on the occasion of the marriage of Robert, earl of Essex, with Lady Frances, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk. He succeeded his father as one of the ‘viols’ in the king's band in March 1627–8, and, together with his brother Henry, was appointed to the place of musician in ordinary. The two brothers probably held jointly the post of composer in ordinary (see below). Four pieces for viols by him, some of which are called ‘In nomine,’ are preserved in Addit. MS. 29427, where he is distinguished from his father by the addition of ‘junior.’ Among the manuscripts in Ely Cathedral is an anthem, ‘Let God arise,’ the ‘full’ part of which is attributed to Alfonso Ferrabosco, and the ‘verse’ portions to Lawes. The third Ferrabosco is the one who stands nearest in point of time to Lawes, and we may therefore conclude that in this anthem we have a work by him. No other composition of his is known. From various entries in the State Papers, Alfonso seems to have survived his brother, but only by a short term; in 1661 the place as musician was filled by Th. Bates, who seems to have gained by the division of labour practised by his predecessors, as he is given ‘50l. and 40l. yearly.’ The brothers were succeeded in the post of composer in ordinary by Dr. William Child, who was appointed on 4 July 1661 ‘in the roome of Alfonso Ferrabosco and Henry Ferrabosco, deceased;’ he, however, only received a grant of 40l. a year.

John Ferrabosco, who was organist of Ely Cathedral from 1662 until his death in 1682, was probably a son of either Alfonso or Henry. In 1671 he took the degree of Mus.B. at Cambridge, ‘per literas regias.’ It has been suggested that he may have introduced into the cathedral the ‘Chanting Service’ as it is called, in which the verses are set alternately in a florid motet style and in a simple chant form. This is said to have been a not unusual practice in certain Italian churches, and it is supposed that he may have adopted the plan from the land of his family's origin. The manuscript collection at Ely contains eleven anthems by him, as well as many services, one of which, in B flat, is given by Tudway, who wrongly ascribes it to Alfonso Ferrabosco; it is also contained in other manuscript collections, as at Peterborough, and in Sir F. A. Gore Ouseley's collection.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. Charles II, 1661–2, xxxix. p. 32, xlv. p. 180, lv. p. 386; Docquet Book, 4 July 1661; authorities quoted above; Somerset House Gazette, i. 101 (1824); Grove's Dict. i. 512; Dickson's Cat. of Music MSS. in Ely Cathedral.]

J. A. F. M.