King Henry the VIII was to become proficient in many skills such as hunting, fencing, jousting, archery writing poetry, singing as well as learning to play several musical instruments. Henry developed a life-long love of listening to, performing and composing music. He built an extensive collection of musical instruments over the years including some 78 flutes, 76 recorders, 10 trombones, 14 trumpets, 5 bagpipes.
An extraordinary collection of his music is today kept at the British Library in London; the so-called Henry VIII’s Songbook. This book contains over 100 secular compositions by contemporary Tudor composers, 33 of which were written by the King himself. Beautifully notated and illuminated by one of his inner circle onto parchment, this manuscript gives us an amazing insight into the developing composer. Contained in this collection is Henry’s greatest success, a song written in 1509 shortly after his coronation entitled Pastime with Good Company. So popular was this catchy tune with its raucous lyrics, that it quickly spread through England becoming a national hit
www.bl.uk, Henry VIII Songbook c.1518 © British Library
www.bl.uk – Songs written by Henry VIII c.1518 © British Library
Pastime with good company – Royal Rhymes and Rounds The King’s Singers signum classic 2012