Three great English choirbooks from the early 16th century have survived the vandalism of religious zealots and the dispassionate carelessness with which old music was discarded when no longer sung. Of these three manuscripts the best known is the Eton Choirbook.
The Eton Choirbook’s existence springs directly from the statutes laid down by Henry VI when he founded Eton College in 1440. The Eton Choirbook was copied around 1500, probably by professional London scribes and illuminators, drawing upon a pool of compositions containing the best of English church music of the time.
Although not strictly bound to adhere to words and music laid down in official liturgical books, the composers of the Eton Choirbook music worked within the a strong tradition, and all but one of the pieces of this recording refer in some way to standard texts.
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