Redford, John (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

REDFORD, JOHN (fl. 1535), musician, poet, and dramatist, was, according to Hawkins, who gives no authority, organist and almoner of St. Paul's; Tusser mentions Redford as master of the children of St. Paul's about 1535, in his autobiographical poem:

    But mark the chance, myself to 'vance,
    By friendship's lot to Paules I got,
    So found I grace a certain space
    Still to remain
    With Redford there, the like nowhere
    For cunning such, and virtue much
    By whom some part of musicke art
    So did I gain.

Sebastian Westcott was master of the children of St. Paul's in August 1559, when Redford was probably dead (Strype, Annals of the Reformation, p. 191).

Redford's instrumental works are very important in musical history. Twenty-three instrumental pieces by Redford are in the famous manuscript written by Thomas Mulliner [q. v.]; they mainly consist of florid counterpoint upon a plain-song. Other organ pieces of the same nature are in Additional MS. 15233; and several in Additional MS. 29996, the first forty folios of which appear to be in Redford's autograph. An arrangement by him of ‘Glorificamus’ in Mulliner's book, a ‘Precatus est Moyses’ and a ‘Justus ut palma’ in the autograph manuscript, are among the best remains of this period, and show that Redford had surpassed anything previously known in instrumental music, though other works in both manuscripts are more difficult. Redford, to judge by these manuscripts, was the best instrumental composer, but not the greatest executant, of his time. His only known vocal works are a very fine motet ‘Cristus resurgens’ in Additional MSS. 17802–5, and another motet in an imperfect set of part-books at Christ Church, Oxford; some of the organ music may consist of exact transcriptions of vocal works. Redford has also the credit of composing a remarkably fine contrapuntal anthem, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always,’ which is still in the repertory of our choirs, especially of St. Paul's, but there is no reason to believe it is Redford's. It is preserved in Mulliner's book, from which it was published (with seven other pieces) in the appendix to Hawkins's ‘History of Music,’ being subsequently reprinted by the Motett Society, and brought into use; but Mulliner gave no composer's name. Causton set the same words.

As master of the children at St. Paul's, Redford had to provide dramatic entertainments. A very quaint specimen of his skill survives in a morality of his, entitled ‘Wyt and Science.’ This is preserved in Additional MS. 15233 with the organ pieces mentioned above, and many poems by Redford, Heywood, and other musician-poets of Henry VIII's reign. There are also fragments in the same manuscript of two other moralities, one with Redford's name. The entire manuscript, except the musical portion, was edited in 1848 for the Shakspeare Society by Mr. Halliwell [-Phillipps], who, unfortunately, had no knowledge of music. The morality was written in Henry VIII's life, as the last speech prays for the king and queen; though of little or no value poetically, it shows some humour and perception of dramatic effect, even having elementary stage directions. The poems and songs that follow the morality have greater literary value; one of them, ‘Long have I been a singing man,’ is ascribed to Heywood in Cotton MS. Vespasian A 25. A mock-pathetic ‘Lamentation of Choirboys’ is amusing with its occasional use of trisyllable rhymes (‘thinke on him,’ ‘wynke on him,’ ‘lynke on him’). It is probable that these poems were also sung on the stage, perhaps in the two moralities of which fragments remain.

Morley (Plaine and Easie Introduction to Musicke, 1597) includes Redford in the list of ‘Practicioners’ whose works he had studied, placing him after Cornysshe, Pygott, and Taverner. His name was probably never mentioned again until Hawkins published his ‘History.’

[Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 15233, 17802–5, 29996, 30513; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, c. 77 and Appendix; Collier's Annals of the Stage, i. 72, ii. 342–5; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, iii. 270–1; Bumpus's Organists and Composers of St. Paul's; Shakespeare Society's Publications and other works quoted above.]

H. D.