The Kennedy Center

Richard Dering


Richard Dering, an English composer and organist was born in 1580. He was the illegitimate son of Henry Dering of Liss, Hampshire. Richard Dering was an expatriate English musician who, because of his Roman Catholic faith, lived and worked in the Spanish-dominated South Netherlands. By 1610 he had traveled to Italy, gaining a BMus in that year from Christ Church, Oxford. 1612-16 he traveled with the British ambassador to Venice. In 1617 he was organist to the community of English Benedictine nuns in Brussels. He returned to England in 1625 as organist to the Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria and 'musician for the lutes and voices' to King Charles I.
Dering wrote three books of motets with continuo, two of canzonets and one of continuo madrigals. His music shows varying degrees of Italian influence; the continuo madrigals and small concertato motets are very much in the idiom of Grandi or d'India, with wayward modulations and dramatic expression; the Cantio Sacra (1618) contains 6-part motets that recall a more conventionally expressive Italian madrigal-like idiom.
Dering's two- and three-voice pieces were published in London by John Playford in 1662, long after the composer's death, but they may have been written in the Spanish Netherlands, for one has a text honoring St James as patron saint of Spain. It is likely that Dering took the pieces with him to England: they were certainly sung in Henrietta's chapel, and they were used for private devotion during the Commonwealth.
His works include Cantiones sacrae sex vocum (1597); Cantiones sacrae quinque vocum (1617); Cantica sacrae ... senis vocibus (1618); Cantiones sacrae quinque vocum (1619); Canzonettes (1620)
Richard Dering