Affordable Access

The life and works of William Davis (c. 1675/6–1745)

Authors
Publisher
University of York
Publication Date
Disciplines
  • Musicology

Abstract

William Davis was a church musician who spent the majority of his life in the employ of Worcester Cathedral as chorister, player of the ‘little organ’, lay clerk and Master of the Choristers. It is therefore unsurprising that the substantial part of his compositional output is sacred. Nevertheless, there is also a large body of secular music, including an ode, a wedding song, several songs for soloist or duet and a handful of catches. Additionally there is a four movement suite for keyboard and two other keyboard solo pieces. The majority of Davis’ music appears to have been composed between 1695–1715. Writing about Davis, Ian Spink has asserted that ‘on this evidence [of the piece Let God arise] the composer would seem to be one of the more talented of Croft’s contemporaries’. More recently, he noted that ‘His [Davis’] anthems are good examples of what Croft’s provincial contemporaries were capable of’. Such comments inevitably invite closer consideration of Davis’ music in the light of his more illustrious London contemporaries. It is concluded that the best of Davis’ output is on a par with some of the music of Chapel Royal composers such as Croft and Clarke. Illustrative of this is that it has been possible to reattribute one full anthem (Help, Lord; for the Godly man ceaseth) to Davis, it previously having been ascribed to Croft. Davis was evidently the principal composer in Worcester at the beginning of the eighteenth century. A survey of his life and works therefore not only serves to enlarge our appreciation of Davis, but it also affords us better understanding of musical life in the city at that time. It is therefore hoped that this thesis will contribute to wider knowledge of the musical activity of the provinces in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.