The Kennedy Center

Giles Farnaby



Biography

Giles Farnaby, an English composer was born in England, presumably in London, in 1563. His music was mostly composed for virginal instruments. It was said that his cousin, Nicholas, a joyner and virginal instrument maker must have influenced his choice of music. It was said that he could be related to Tho Farnaby, the famous school master of Kent. He got married to Katharine Roane on 28 May 1587. They had five children, two of them Richard and Edward were also musicians.

Farnaby graduated with a Bachelor of Music at Oxford University on 7 July 1592. Simultaneously that year, he provided nine settings to Thomas East's famous Whole Booke of Psalmes. It was noted that Barley and Revenscroft later took on these particular psalter synchronizations.

In 1602, he moved to Aisthorpe, a village near Lincoln. There he tutored the children of Sir Nicholas Saunderson of Fillingham, in music and instruments for nine years in exchange for a lower property lease for twenty years.

Farnaby's works as a joyner were not on a par with his colleagues', Bull, Byrd, Gibbon, or Morley, nonetheless they cannot always equal the originality, impulsiveness and communique of his music. Unfortunately, Farnaby's compositions were not circulated widely outside of his composers' circle except for Bonny Sweet Robin. Some of his works were Canzonets to Fowre Voyces (1598) a compilation of praises by Hugh Holland, Holborne, John Dowland, Richard Alison, written in honor of the courtier, Ferdinando Heyborne. There were also the Alman For Two Virginals, Giles Farnaby's Dream, His Rest, His Humour and 11 keyboard fantasias. Fifty two of his best works were contained in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

Farnaby died in London in November 1640.
Giles Farnaby