Fayrfax, Robert

1470-1529 or 30

His name is sometimes spelled Fairfax. He was an English composer who was born, according to most authorities in the latter half of the Fifteenth Century at Bayford, Hertfordshire, and very little is known of his life.

Fayrfax was a Doctor of Music at Cambridge and was the first recorded Doctor of Music at Oxford. According to Grove's Dictionary, he enjoyed the favor of Henry VIII., and after the accession of the later was granted an annuity, being described as "a gentleman of the chapel." About 1514 he was appointed one of the Poor Knights of Windsor with twelve shillings a day. Entries in the state papers between the years 1516 and 1519 show that he was the author of a book of anthems, songs and other music and was besides an illuminator and writer on musical subjects. In 1520, Fayrfax, with other members of the chapel, accompanied the King to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, being :it the head of the singers. Fayrfax appears to have been renowned in his day and was evidently the chief representative of the school of music which prevailed in England from the time of Edward IV. and ended with Fayrfax himself. He composed both sacred and secular works, and his compositions include masses; motets; a Magnificat; a Stabat Mater and several songs. Burney prints in his History of Music one of the songs and also extracts from some of the masses. Some of the songs are written in two, three and four parts, and are now preserved in manuscript in the British Museum.