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Giles Farnaby

Giles Farnaby

Giles Farnaby


Giles Farnaby (c. 1563–1640) was an English composer and virginalist of the Renaissance period. Giles Farnaby was born in about 1563, perhaps in Truro, Cornwall, or near London. His father, Thomas, was a Cittizen and Joyner of London, and Giles may have been related to Thomas Farnaby (c. 1575–1647), the famous schoolmaster of Kent. But it was his cousin Nicholas Farnaby (c. 1560–1630) who may have turned him to music. Nicholas was a virginal maker Read more on Last.fm
Giles Farnaby (c. 1563–1640) was an English composer and virginalist of the Renaissance period. Giles Farnaby was born in about 1563, perhaps in Truro, Cornwall, or near London. His father, Thomas, was a Cittizen and Joyner of London, and Giles may have been related to Thomas Farnaby (c. 1575–1647), the famous schoolmaster of Kent.

But it was his cousin Nicholas Farnaby (c. 1560–1630) who may have turned him to music. Nicholas was a virginal maker, at this time a generic word that included the entire family of plucked keyboard instruments: the harpsichord, virginal, muselaar, and the clavichord, and it is for these instruments that Farnaby's compositions are best known. Like his father however, Giles trained as a joiner or cabinet-maker, starting his apprenticeship in about 1583, and gave this trade as his occupation for most of his life. He married Katherine Roane on 28th May 1587, and first lived in the parish of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, in London.

The couple had a daughter, Philadelphia, baptised on 8th August 1591, when the Farnabys moved to the neighbouring parish of St Peter's, Westcheap, and later a son, Richard Farnaby (1594 - 1623). After Philadelphia's premature death, prior to 1602, the Farnabys had three more children: a son Joy (1599), a daughter, also baptised Philadelphia (1602), and a last son, Edward (1604). In spite of his social background, hardly suited at this time to a university education, he graduated from the University of Oxford in 1592, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in music on the same day that John Bull obtained his degree. Bull evidently knew Farnaby, and influenced his musical style considerably. In 1602 the family moved to Aisthorpe in Lincolnshire, where they remained until at least 1610. Farnaby obtained a position in the household of Sir Nicholas Saunderson of Fillingham, as music teacher to his children.

By 1614 the Farnabys had returned to London, registered at Grub Street, Cripplegate in 1634, where Giles died in November 1640. Farnaby is considered one of the great English Virginalists, together with William Byrd, John Bull, Orlando Gibbons, Peter Philips, and Thomas Tomkins, among others. Unlike them however, he is the only one not to have been a professional musician. His best known works are included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, which contains fifty-two of his pieces. Notable among them are eleven fantasias, a technically demanding set of variations called "Woody-Cock", and short but charming descriptive pieces such as "Giles Farnabys Dreame", "His Rest", "Farnabyes Conceit", and "His Humour". There are also four pieces by his son, Richard.

In addition to his keyboard compositions, Farnaby also composed madrigals, canzonets, and psalms. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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