Medieval Musicians

Richard III’s Music

Listen to a musical biography of Richard III’s life

A group of historical music performers presented a musical biography of Richard III’s life at a concert on Friday 11 January at the Fraser Noble Hall at the University of Leicester. This coincided with the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, hosted by the University’s Centre for Historical Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History. At the concert a series of musical works were presented exploring the places and pieces he would have known during his lifetime, 1452 – 1485. The concert included pieces from English composers to represent his childhood in England as well as music from Burgundy and the Hague, which he would have heard during his travels in Europe. It also included English music from the 1470s, when Richard returned to England before becoming King in 1483.

The concert was given by TritonE, a professional recorder trio, which has specialised in playing play music from a range of composers, including the English composer John Dunstable and the Franco-Flemish Guillaume Dufay and Johannes Ockeghem. However, the TritonE members are also active researchers – frequently working with original manuscripts – and their musical interpretations are based in historical, theoretical and practical writings about music. Janet Forbes, recorders and voice, is a recent MA graduate of the Historical Performance department at the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague. Elspeth Robertson and Mary-Jannet Leith (recorders) are currently completing the MA programme at the Royal College of Music, London.

Janet Forbes said: “When I first heard about the discovery of Richard III, I was really excited. The music will provide an amazing context to the life of someone like Richard III. We chose music from places he visited, pieces which would have been familiar to him.” Professor Lin Foxhall, Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “This concert offers another perspective on the life and times of Richard III, presenting the sound world in which he lived, and the different kinds of music he would have heard and known.”


Richard’s childhood England
John Dunstable (c1390 -1453) Quam pulcha es
John Benet (d.1458?) Gloria
John Cooke (c1358 – 1442?) Stella Celi
John Dunstable Sancta Maria

Music from the Court of Burgundy
Antione Busnois (1430 -1492) Mon seul et sangle
Hayne v. Ghizeghem (1445- c.1476) De tous biens plaine
Antointe Busnois A vous sans autre
Guillaume Dufay (1397 -1474) Ave Regina Caelorum
Guillaume Dufay Ce moys de mai

Gruthuse’s hospitality and The Hague
Mattaeus Pipelare (c1450 –c1515) Helas de Vous
Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410 -1497) Fors solament
Mattaeus Pipelare Sur tous regretz
Johannes Ghiselin (fl.1481 – 1507) La Alfonsina

England in the 1470s
Anon. Agincourt Carol Agincourt Carol
John Bedyngham (d.c.1460) Grant temps
John Dunstable Puzzle canon
Anon. Basse Danse Leonzello
King Richard’s Courtly Christmas Festivities
Anon. Basse Danse Tesara
Anon. (c.1420) There is no rose of swich virtu
Anon. (15th Century) Alleluia: A nywe work
Anon. (15th Century) Nowel: Owt of your slepe aryse
Anon. Cancon de pifari dicto

A musical biography of Richard III’s life