The Kennedy Center

Robert Fayrfax



Biography

Robert Fayrfax, an English composer, singer and music scribe, was born on 23 April 1464 in Deeping Gate, Lincolnshire, England. He was notable for his cyclic masses. Earlier than December 1497, little was written on his profession. He was assigned a Gentleman of the Royal Household Chapel; thereafter, Chaplain of Snodhill Castle, Herefordshire from Dec. 1497 to November 1498; and several clericals positions during the reign of Henry VII.

He gained better positions during the reign of Henry VIII leading the clerks during the King's coronation. He received a lifetime annuity from the King and gifts especially on New Years Day. He may have held position at St. Albans, evidenced by his works Missa Albanus and O Maria Deo grata (also known as the motet O Albane Deo grate) in honor of St. Alban. On 28 March 1502, he received a payment from Queen Elizabeth for his work on an Anthem of our lady and St. Elisabeth (most likely Aeternae laudis lidium ).

Fayrfax earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1501 and a Doctorate degree in Music in 1504 from Cambridge University, on which he composed Missa O quam glorifica. In 1511, he was granted D. Music from Oxford University.

It was said that there were 29 compositions of Fayrfax that survived, some of which were six cyclic masses, two Magnificat settings, and many others. His early compositions incorporated in the Eton Choirbook were Magnificat regale, Ave lumen gratiae and Salve regina. Missa Regali ex progenie was printed for Kings College, Cambridge University in 1503 – 1504.  Even a hundred years after his death, three of his compositions were still being produced namely the Magnificat O bone Jesu, Ave Dei Patris and Maria plena while compositions of his contemporaries were already gone.

Fayrfax died on 24 October 1521 at St. Albans.
Robert Fayrfax