In this new four-part series, Dr David Starkey will develop the idea of how British music has been influenced and shaped by the monarchy. This first episode, fittingly called ‘Crown and Choir’, will mainly focus on two kings who, when they were not fighting wars, calling parliament and governing their country, were also composing music. Henry V and Henry VIII were known for their interest and ear for creative music not just by their contemporaries, but by generations after. The episode will also look at how Elizabeth I popularised new themes of music.
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were dominated by religious conflict, frequent military struggles and royal family feuds. Dr Starkey discovers how these factors impacted on the music being composed and played at the time, and how other European powers envied the music being produced from the English court.
The episode will include performances from inside the likes of King’s College Cambridge and Eton College, and insights into the music of Tudor composers Thomas Tallis and William Bryd, and late medieval polyphonic music composer John Dunstaple.
Dr Starkey discusses how Henry V travelled to the Battle of Agincourt with a choir to raise the morale of his troops and to intimidate the French opponents. Founded by Henry VI, Dr Starkey will visit Eton College where the current choir members still sing from the same choir-books that were used in the fifteenth century. Audiences will also have access to the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace where some of the greatest British composers would play their music written especially for Henry VIII and Elizabeth I whilst they worshipped.
The first episode will be broadcasted this Saturday at 8:10pm on BBC Two.
Photo Credit: BBC/OFTV/Chris Openshaw