Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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Wylde, John

(fl c1425–50). English editor and copyist. He was formerly thought to be the author of some music treatises in GB-Lbl Lansdowne 763; historians now agree that his role was confined to that of compiler, editor and copyist. Two 15th-century inscriptions on f.2 of the manuscript contain indications of his identity. The first describes him as former precentor of the independent monastery of the Holy Cross at Waltham. This description was partially re-copied, but ‘precentor’ was replaced by ‘preceptor’ (‘teacher’), presumably implying that he was Informator choristarum. In the former case he would have been a senior official in charge of all the liturgical music and himself an Austin canon; if he had been a canon, however, he would have exchanged his patronymic name ‘Wyldey’ for a toponym. He was probably, therefore, a lay musician in charge of the lay choir, as Tallis was in the same abbey a century later. Tallis also came to own Wylde's manuscript, which he may have inherited along with the post of ‘preceptor’.

Of the various John Wyldes listed as having London benefices in Newcourt's Repertorium and Essex record publications, only one has the Augustinian connections to be expected in a servant of Waltham Abbey. The Augustinian prior and convent of Thremhall, Essex, nominated this man for presentation by the Bishop of London to the vicarage of Stansted Montfichet (now Mountfichet), newly founded and endowed by them, on 9 January 1442. He exchanged it on 12 December 1447 for the rectory of Stapleford, Nottinghamshire (Newcourt, ii, 550). Wylde was presented by a powerful patron, John, Viscount Beaumont, Constable of England, and must therefore have been a person of consequence (Lincoln, Diocesan Archive Office, Reg.Alnwick XVIII, f.168v). The Lincoln connection further suggests that this man was perhaps the John Wylde, ‘clerk, of Lincoln diocese’, who was permitted to be ordained outside his diocese on 2 January 1420 (Lincoln, Reg.Repingdon, XV); he was ordained subdeacon on 6 March 1420 and secular priest on 6 April 1420 by the Bishop of London (GB-Lgc Reg.Clifford 9531/4). If he was ordained at the usual age of 24, he would have been born in about 1396; furthermore, as a secular priest he would have been preceptor rather than precentor at Waltham Abbey.

The date of Wylde's manuscript has been the subject of some discussion: Sweeney (1975) concluded that it may have been written between about 1430 and 1450, but Reaney (1983) suggested that the early years of the 15th century may be more likely, a possibility supported by two further concordances. One passage in the manuscript (Speculum cantancium, f.59), listing the various musical sinners whose peccadillos the demon Tutivillus collects, may be paralleled in the late 14th-century Towneley Doom Play (Anderson); and Wylde's 17th tract, an anonymous treatise on proportions (ff.122vff), is also found in a copy dating from about 1425, in a mainly scientific miscellany: the tract, anonymous also in that source, is there entitled ‘De proporcionibus’, and comparison reveals that Wylde rewrote the beginning and end (Bühler).

As a whole, Wylde's manuscript seems to be a distinctly retrospective collection by a working choirmaster who also had a taste for curiosities and antiquities. It is particularly interesting for its discant treatises in Middle English (ff.105vff), with their systematic exposition of the techniques of Sight, sighting and extemporized discant (which other English theorists had discussed since the 1390s but with less order and detail); and it is unique for its account of faburden. The Anonymus of Wylde's manuscript (known as Pseudo-Chilston) was the first theorist to write about faburden or fauxbourdon; English faburden was originally not written out but was a technique for the schematic harmonization of plainchant in three parts super librum, and thus Wylde's manuscript is the only source of information on how it was performed.



R. Newcourt: Repertorium ecclesiasticum parochiale londinense (London, 1708–10), i, 520; ii, 308–9, 550, 610

S.B. Meech: ‘Three Musical Treatises in English from a Fifteenth-Century Manuscript’, Speculum, x (1935), 235–69

C.F. Bühler: ‘A New Manuscript of the Middle English Tract on Proportions (sometimes attributed to Chilston)’, Speculum, xxi (1946), 229–33

M.D. Anderson: Drama and Imagery in English Medieval Churches (Cambridge, 1963), 173–4

J. Smits van Waesberghe, ed.: Expositiones in Micrologum Guidonis Aretini (Amsterdam, 1957)

G. Reaney: ‘John Wylde and the Notre Dame Conductus’, Speculum musicae artis: Festgabe für Heinrich Husmann, ed. H. Becker and R. Gerlach (Munich, 1970), 263–70

C. Sweeney: ‘John Wylde and the Musica Guidonis’, MD, xxix (1975), 43–59

C. Sweeney, ed.: Johannis Wylde Musica manualis cum tonale, CSM, xxviii (1982)

G. Reaney: ‘The Anonymous Treatise De origine et effectu musicae, an Early 15th Century Commonplace Book of Musical Theory’, MD, xxxvii (1983), 101–19


Wyldebore, John.

See Dygon, John.

Wylie, Ruth Shaw

(b Cincinnati, 24 June 1916; d Estes Park, CO, 20 Jan 1989). American composer. She studied at Wayne State University, Detroit (AB 1937, MA 1939) and the Eastman School of Music (PhD 1943), where her teachers included Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. She continued her studies at the Berkshire Music Center with Arthur Honegger, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland. Her teaching appointments included positions at the University of Missouri (1943–9) and Wayne State University (1949–69); she also served as composer-in-residence at the Huntington Hartford Foundation (1953–4) and the MacDowell Colony (1954, 1956).

Wylie’s music evolved from a tonal style through an increasingly dissonant language to atonality. In the 1960s she became interested in improvisational techniques, composing more than 12 works for the Improvisation Chamber Ensemble, which she founded and directed. She described her piano work Psychogram (1968) as a musical profile of her psychological state during a difficult year through which she struggled to maintain an outward semblance of equilibrium. Her last work, Concerto for Flute and Strings (1986), was composed in seclusion in Colorado.


(selective list)

Ballets: Spring Madness, 1951; Facades (E. Sitwell), 1956; The Ragged Heart, 1961

Orch: Suite, str, 1941; Suite, 1942; Suite, chbr orch, 1942; Sym. no.1, 1943; Sym. no.2, 1948; Holiday Ov., 1951; Conc. grosso, 1952; Concertino, cl, orch, 1967; Involution, 1967; The Long Look Home, 1975; Views From Beyond, 1978; Shades of the Anasazi, 1984; Conc., fl, str, 1986

Vocal: The Wanderer (J. Torosian), S, pf, 1940; God’s Grandeur (G.M. Hopkins), S, pf, 1950; 5 Madrigals (W. Blake), chorus, 1950; Light (E. Scott), S, pf, 1953; Toward Nowhere, chorus, 1953; In Just Spring (e.e. cummings), chorus, 1958; Echo (C. Rossetti), chorus, 1965

Chbr and solo inst: Str Qt no.1, 1941; Str Qt no.2, 1946; Song and Dance, 1947; Wistful Piece, fl/ob, vn, pf, 1953; Sonata, va, pf, 1954; Str Qt no.3, 1956; Sonata, fl, pf, 1960; 3 Inscapes, fl, va, gui, pf, perc, 1970; 5 Occurrences, ww qt, 1971; Incubus, fl, cl, vc ens, perc, 1973; Imagi, fl, ob, cl, vn, vc, perc, 1974; Nova, fl, cl, vc, perc, mar, 1975; Toward Sirius, fl, ob, vn, vc, pf, hpd, 1976; Airs Above the Ground, fl, cl, vn, 4/8 vc, 1977; Terrae incognitae, fl, va, gui, pf, perc, 1979; Music for Three Sisters, fl, cl, pf, 1981; November Music, 1982; Scenes from Arthur Rackham, 1983; Str Qt no.4, 1983; Flights of Fancy, fl, 1985; Signs and Portents, fl, vc, pf, 1988; 24 works for improvisational ens, 1966–8

Pf: 5 Easy Pieces, 1942; Sonata, 1945; Sonatina, 1947; 5 Preludes, 1949; Sonata no.2, 1953; 6 Little Preludes, 1959; Soliloquy, left hand, 1966; Psychogram, 1968; Mandala, 1978; The White Raven, 1983

MSS in Music Library, California State U., Northridge

Principal publishers: Harold Branch, Columbia U. Press, Society of Composers, Peters


K. Kroeger: ‘Ruth Shaw Wylie’, Sonneck Society Bulletin, xv/2 (1979)

R.S. Wylie and B.C.Salwen: disc notes, Ruth Shaw Wylie; Frank Retzel, Opus One CD 165 (1991)


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