Dunstaple [Dunstable, Dunstapell, Dumstable, Donstaple, etc.], John
- Margaret Bent
(bc1390; d Dec 24, 1453). English composer. He was the most eminent of an influential group of English composers active in the first half of the 15th century: his importance was internationally recognized, both during his lifetime and long after his death.
Dunstaple’s earliest surviving works date from between about 1410 and 1420, which suggests a birthdate of about 1390. The date of death derives from his epitaph in the London church of St Stephen Walbrook (destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666), which was reinstated in the church (1904) in a version adapted from Anthony Munday’s transcription printed in a late edition of Stowe’s Survey of London (London, 1618 and subsequent editions). John of Wheathampstead, abbot of St Albans, may have been its author, as he was of a second epitaph. From these epitaphs (printed below) we learn that he was esteemed as a mathematician and astronomer as well as a musician. He is not known to have written a treatise, but his name is attached to a tetrachordal tenor appended to two copies of a music theory treatise. Of three non-musical manuscripts naming him, the most important (...