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Ayers, Kevin Cawley (1944–2013), singer, musician, and composer, was born on 16 August 1944 at St Edward's Nursing Home in Herne Bay, Kent, the son of Rowan Gordon Ayers (1922–2008), then a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, later a BBC executive, and his wife, ...

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Coles, Cecil Frederick Gottlieb (1888–1918), musician and composer, was born at The Hermitage, Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 7 October 1888, the eldest son in the family of three sons and two daughters of Frederick (Fred) Rhenius Coles (1854–1929), artist and archaeologist, and his wife, ...

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Sir John Philip William Dankworth (1927–2010) by unknown photographer, 1962 © Rex Features

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Dankworth, Sir John Philip William [Johnny] (1927–2010), jazz musician and composer, was born at 38 Beech Hall Road, Walthamstow, Essex, on 20 September 1927, the only son and younger child of William Henry Dankworth (1890–1972), sales manager for an electrical insulator works, and his wife, ...

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Davy [Davys], Richard (d. 1521?), church musician, is of unknown origins, but rose to be one of the leading composers of his generation. All that is certain about his career is that he was instructor of the choristers at Magdalen College, Oxford, from Michaelmas 1490 until Christmas 1491; he could have held the post as early as Michaelmas 1488 and as late as Christmas 1493. It is probable, however, that he stayed no longer than the many other instructors employed by the college during the 1480s and 1490s; the position was poorly paid, and its occupants tended to move to more lucrative employment. A ...

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Fayrfax [Fairfax], Robert (1464–1521), composer and church musician, was born on 23 April 1464 at Deeping Gate, Northamptonshire, the sixth of at least twelve children of William Fayrfax (d. 1498) and his second wife, Anne, daughter of Robert Tanfeld. The Fayrfaxes were typical minor gentry of the period, intermarrying with other armigerous families and creating ties of respect and obligation with their neighbours. The list of godparents and sponsors chosen by ...

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Horwood, William (c. 1430–1484), church musician and composer, is of unknown parentage and upbringing. During 1458–9 he was admitted to the Confraternity of St Nicholas, a guild of the clerks and professional musicians working in the parish and collegiate churches of the London...

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Herbert Jansch (1943–2011) by Keith Morris, 1985 © Estate of Keith Morris / Redferns / Getty Images

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Jansch, Herbert [Bert] (1943–2011), guitarist, singer, and composer, was born on 3 November 1943 at Stobhill Hospital, Springburn, Glasgow, the son of Herbert Jansch (1911–1970), a builder's labourer then serving as a private in the Royal Army Service Corps, and his wife, Margaret Henderson Robertson (Maggie), ...

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Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley, second baronet (1825–1889) by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), 1860 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Ouseley, Sir Frederick Arthur Gore, second baronet (1825–1889), church musician, was born on 12 August 1825 in Grosvenor Square, London, the fourth and youngest surviving child of Sir Gore Ouseley, first baronet (1770–1844), orientalist and diplomatist, and his wife, Harriet Georgina, daughter of ...

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Porter, Walter (c. 1587–1659), composer and church musician, was, according to Anthony Wood, the son of Henry Porter, who graduated BMus from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1600. The year of his birth is uncertain, for although he signed a petition to the governors of ...

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Pygott, Richard (d. 1549), composer and church musician, is of unknown parentage and background. He spent more than thirty years in two of the foremost choral foundations of early Tudor England, first as master of Cardinal Wolsey's household chapel choir and later as a gentleman of ...

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Renbourn, John William Mark (1944–2015), guitarist, singer, and composer, was born Robert William Jopling Turner on 8 August 1944 in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, St Pancras, London, the son of Robert George McCombe Turner, a stockbroker’s agent and wartime captain in the ...

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Spiegl, Fritz (1926–2003), musician and humorist, was born on 27 January 1926 at Zumdorf, Austria, near the border with Germany, the son of Rudolf Spiegl, a Catholic agricultural merchant and soda water manufacturer, and his Jewish wife, Josefine, née Geiringer. He attended a local Catholic school where, he remembered, the teachers were '...

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Samuel Webbe the elder (1740–1816) by William Skelton, pubd 1820 (after William Behnes) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Webbe, Samuel, the elder (1740–1816), church musician and composer, was born in London on 7 October 1740, the son of well-to-do parents. Before he was a year old his father took up a government appointment in Minorca, but he died before his wife and family could join him there. Thereafter the family's financial situation was straitened, and ...

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White, Robert (c. 1530x32–1574), church musician and composer, was the son of Robert White (d. in or after 1574). By 1572 Robert White the elder was styled gentleman and had inherited or acquired the estate of Swallowfield, near Mannings Heath, Sussex. Nevertheless, he and his family appear to have been established in the ...

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Whytbroke, William (c. 1500–1569), church musician and composer, is of unknown parentage and upbringing. In 1525, at Lichfield Cathedral where he was a vicar-choral, he took all three major orders up to the priesthood. During 1529–30 he occurs as a priest-chaplain of the choir of ...