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Wydow [Widowe, Viduus], Robert

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Wydow [Widowe, Viduus], Robert

(b Thaxted, Essex, c1445; dWells, ?September 1505). English church musician and poet. The stepson of a schoolmaster, he was a chorister of King’s College, Cambridge, during 1455–6 and a scholar of Eton College from about 1459 to 1464, whence he returned to King’s College and graduated MGram in 1467/8. Through his position as tutor to the sons of nobility he came to the notice of Edward IV, by whom he was presented to a chaplaincy of the chantry of the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral, a position that he occupied from 1474 to 1478. Probably he returned thence to the royal court, where he appears in 1491 as schoolmaster in Latin to the choristers of the Chapel Royal. In 1500 he entered residence as a canon and subdean of Wells Cathedral, where he was buried on 4 October 1505.

Among contemporaries he enjoyed celebrity as a poet and as an inaugural exponent in England of humanist ideals in the recovery of the classical Latin style; a few lines of his poetry have been preserved. Later reports that he may have studied in France and Italy cannot be verified. In addition, in 1478 or 1479 he was admitted to the degree of BMus by Oxford University. He is the earliest known recipient of this degree; it involved no residential study, but was awarded to distinguished practitioners (essentially, composers). In 1501/2 his degree was incorporated by Cambridge University. No attributed compositions survive, but probably Wydow was closely associated with the compilation of the manuscript GB-Cmc Pepys 1236, an important collection of liturgical polyphony believed to have been assembled at Canterbury Cathedral in the 1470s and so coinciding with his residence there.


AshbeeR, vii

R. Holinshed: The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (London, 1577, rev. 2/1587 by J. Hooker); ed. H. Ellis (London, 1807–8/R), iii, 543

A. Hall, ed.: J. Leland: Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis (London, 1709), 484–5

A.B. Emden: A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500 (Cambridge, 1963), 654–5

R. Bowers: ‘Magdalene College, MS Pepys 1236’, Cambridge Music Manuscripts, 900–1700, ed. I.A. Fenlon (Cambridge, 1982), 111–14

J.W. Binns: Intellectual Culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: the Latin Writings of the Age (Leeds, 1990), 21–2


Wyeth, John

(b Cambridge, MA, 31 March 1770; d Philadelphia, 23 Jan 1858). American music publisher. Although he established a general bookstore and publishing house in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and was responsible for issuing the city’s newspaper, Wyeth also published much sacred music. His Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (Harrisburg, 1813, 2/1820/R) was the first shape-note collection to contain a sizable number of folk hymns, and greatly influenced later collections. His earlier Repository of Sacred Music (Harrisburg, 1810/R) reached six editions by 1834. He also published three German tunebooks, Joseph Doll’s Der leichter Unterricht (Harrisburg, 1810), Isaac Gerhart and J.F. Eyer’s Choral-harmonie (Harrisburg, 1818) and Johannes Rothbaust’s Die Franklin Harmonie (Harrisburg, 1821). See also Shape-note hymnody, §1–2 , and Spiritual, §1.


DAB (C.W. Garrison)

I. Lowens: ‘John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (1813): a Northern Precursor of Southern Folk-Hymnody’, Music and Musicians in Early America (New York, 1964), 138–55

D.W. Steel: ‘John Wyeth and the Development of Southern Folk Hymnody’, Music from the Middle Ages through the Twentieth Century: Essays in Honor of Gwynn McPeek, ed. C.P. Comberiati and M.C. Steel (New York, 1988), 357–74


Wyk, Arnold van.

See Van Wyk, Arnold.

Wyk, Carl van.

See Van Wyk, Carl.

Wylde, Henry

(b Bushey, Herts., 22 May 1822; d London, 13 March 1890). English conductor, composer and writer on music. The son of Henry Wylde (b 1795), an organist and gentleman-in-waiting to George IV, he became organist of Whitchurch and then at 16 had piano lessons from Moscheles; from 1843 to 1846 he studied with Cipriani Potter at the RAM, where he was later a professor of piano. He was organist of St Anne and St Agnes, Gresham Street (1844–7). In 1851 he gained the degree of MusDoc at Cambridge. He was a juror in the musical instrument section in the international exhibitions of 1851 and 1862, and was made professor at Gresham College in 1863.

In 1852 the New Philharmonic Society was founded, with Wylde as a guarantor, to introduce new or rare works. The first six concerts were conducted by Berlioz and Wylde, with Wylde in the second concert directing his own Piano Concerto in F minor (with Alexandre Billet), in the fourth his scena The Knight of Leon (with Sims Reeves) and, in the sixth, part of his cantata Prayer and Praise (1852). However, Berlioz alleged that Wylde prevented his re-engagement and himself conducted ‘in a nonsensical way. He only wants a one-eyed or a blind associate and I did not even wear spectacles’ (letter of 19 December 1852). Wylde did re-engage Berlioz in 1854, then refusing to release him for a more lucrative rival engagement by the old Philharmonic Society. Wylde successfully took over the conductorship of the new society in 1858, introducing to England Liszt’s Die heilige Elisabeth (1870) and the whole of Lohengrin in concert (1873). However, he was never popular as a conductor; according to the memoirs of his pupil, J.F. Barnett, he was a highly cultured musician, but lacked several of the technical requirements necessary for conducting. In 1861 Wylde founded the London Academy of Music, a music school for amateurs with fees at affordable prices. It was based first at St James's Hall, then, from summer 1867 at St George's Hall, Langham Place, which was purpose built at his own expense. By 1890 the Academy educated around 600 musicians each year.

In addition to the works mentioned above, Wylde composed piano pieces and songs, and an elaborately scored and over-ambitious cantata, Paradise Lost, performed by the New Philharmonic Society in 1853. He was music critic for The Echo and also wrote several books on music theory and aesthetics, including Music in its Art-Mysteries (London, 1867), Harmony and the Science of Music (London, 1872), Modern Counterpoint (London, 1873), Art Training in Music (London, 1882), which makes particular reference to the teaching of Moscheles, Music as an Educator (London, 1882), Occult Principles in Music (London, 1882), and The Evolution of the Beautiful in Sound (Manchester, 1888). His brother James Wylde was a harpist active in London.


Reviews in Musical World, xxi (1853), 301–3, 315–17

Obituary, The Times (17 Mar 1890)

J.D. Brown and S.S. Stratton: British Musical Biography (Birmingham, 1897/R)

J.F. Barnett: Musical Reminiscences and Impressions (London, 1906)

P. Scholes: The Mirror of Music, 1844–1944 (London, 1947), 190

A.W. Ganz: Berlioz in London (London, 1950/R)

C. Ehrlich: First Philharmonic: a History of the Royal Philharmonic Society (Oxford, 1995), 97–8


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