🎻♫♪ – The Western Wynde Mass by John Taverner

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 19/501Title: The Western Wynde Mass
Composer: John Taverner
Nationality: English

It didn’t take too long until I got to the first (chronological) English composer on this list. Whilst it does opens up the world of classical music a little bit more, we are still very much in Western Europe. In fact, you have to get a fair bit into the list before you venture into Eastern Europe and then a lot further for pieces from outside of Europe.

For the moment, being the 1530s, classical music is still synonymous with choirs and chanting. It is based around a single verse in Middle English that reads:

‘Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!’

The entire classical piece is a mass written around this, which is impressive when you consider that the piece is between 23-29 minutes long (depending on the rendition). When compared to some of the other earlier pieces I have listened to from this list it doesn’t feel that a lot has moved on in 400 years. I guess this is why the list has been able to some up 3-4 centuries of classical music within 10 entries.

I find myself wondering how much will have moved on until I get to the 24th entry, the first classical piece in the book where the title features the main instrument. Okay, so it’s a lute, but at least it shows that there will be some more instruments entering the fold of classical music very soon.

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