John Sheppard



Biography

John Sheppard was an English composer of the Renaissance period.  He was born in 1515 but very little is known about his early life and musical training.  Some of the information about his early life was found to be inaccurate as some misconduct attributed to him was actually that of Richard Shepper.  It has been pretty well confirmed that he was the choir director at Magdalen College in Oxford from 1543 to 1548. He then joined the Chapel Royal as a Gentleman, a position he held until his death. This organization was composed of clergy, singers and vestry officers who served the King.

He composed music for the Latin liturgies.  However, almost all his early compositions no longer exist.  What has survived of his early music is in the Partbooks at Christ Church in Oxford.  His latin-texted music survived mainly because Elizabethan copyists collected it.  This music showed his outstanding ability to use rhythms and rich, full sounds in order to produce the musical splendor that accompanied the Latin rite, often probably played for major church feasts.

Following the Reformation, he wrote liturgical music for the reformed English church.  His music was much simpler during this time but he still loved the rich music common in the Catholic liturgical services.  Unfortunately, little of his English work has survived and based on the meager number of compositions in existence, it appears he did compose some work for the services that vied in richness and splendor with the Latin music. 

Sheppard died in the latter part of December, 1558, having written his will on December 1, 1558. 
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