Personalities | John Dunstaple (Dunstable) | Medieval Era | Classical

c. 1390–1453
English composer

Dunstaple was the best known of an influential group of English composers which included Power. To judge by the number of his works in continental manuscripts, he was probably one of the most important composers of his day in Europe, although he may not have travelled particularly widely. He wrote early Mass cycles, including what is perhaps his most famous work, the Mass Rex seculorum (‘King of Ages’), isorhythmic motets and some songs. He is reputed to have influenced the styles of Du Fay and Binchois, who, according to one writer, took on the contenance angloise in emulation of him. This may have had to do with the triadic nature of Dunstaple’s musical style; he used what sound to the modern ear like major chords both in his melodies and especially in his harmonic writing. His use of thirds and sixths was part of the intrinsically English discant style, which then percolated through to continental Europe.

Recommended Recording:
Missa Rex seculorum, Motets, Orlando Consort (Metronome)

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