Early century

John Blitheman (c. 1525 – 23 May 1591)

English composer and organist. The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, which includes the third of his Gloria tibi Trinitas settings, gives his forename as William. However, Chapel Royal records from 1558 to 1590 consistently refer to John Blitheman, and there can be little doubt that this was the composer’s name.

Nothing is known about his early life. In 1555 he was chaplain at Christ Church, Oxford, becoming master of the choristers there in 1564. From 1585 until his death he was appointed organist of the Chapel Royal (succeeding Thomas Tallis), where John Bull was both his pupil and successor. He died in London in 1591 and is buried at St Nicholas Olave, Queenhithe. The great majority of Blitheman’s works is included in The Mulliner Book, where he is represented by fifteen pieces. One of his In nomines, dating from before 1591, displays the earliest known example of triplet figuration in English keyboard music. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: “’Gloria Tibi Trinitas’ William Blitheman. (Gentleman and Organist of Queen Elizabeth’s Chapel. His epitaph is given in Stow’s Survey of London, edit. 1633, from which it appears that he died in 1591.) From Thomas Mulliner’s Booke for ye Virginalls, collated with another copy in Lady Neville’s Virginal Book; both MSS. in the possession of the author.” from The Pianoforte, Its Origin, Progress, and Construction; with some account of instruments of the same class which preceded it; viz. the Clavichord, the Virginal, the Spinet, the Harpsichord, etc. To which is added a selection of interesting Specimens of Music composed for keyed-stringed instruments, by Blitheman, Byrd, Bull, Frescobaldi, Dumont, Chambonnières, Lully, Purcell, Muffat, Couperin, Kuhnau, Scarlatti, Seb. Bach, Mattheson, Handel, C. P. Emanuel Bach, etc. By Edward F. Rimbault, LL.D. London: Robert Cocks and Co., 1860.


Motobloc Bordeaux, 1927, Rene Vincent by Paul Malon


Was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution. The aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, and while for much of the Romantic period it was associated with liberalism and radicalism, its long-term effect on the growth of nationalism was perhaps more significant.