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Roger Bowers

(b c1420; d 1497). English church musician. He was noted as a fine singer and skilful organist. After service in the household of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (until 1447), and as a lay clerk of Eton College (1447–51), where he was one of the four clerks specially responsible for singing polyphony in the college chapel, he became a clerk of the Chapel Royal in 1451, and Master of the Choristers there from 1455 to 1478. His duties included teaching the boys to play the organ and to sing plainsong and improvised polyphony; also it seems probable that he was instrumental in the introduction about this time of the use of boys’ voices in composed polyphony. The award to him in 1464 of a Cambridge MusB reflects his eminence in the musical profession – he is the earliest known recipient of this degree – while the patronage of Bishop Bekynton brought him valuable sinecures in the diocese of Bath and Wells. His last years were spent as a resident of Sanctuary Yard, Westminster Abbey....


John M. Ward

( fl 1507–39). Italian organist. According to his contemporary, Marino Sanuto, he was a Crutched friar . He was a pupil of Paul Hofhaimer and became first organist of S Marco, Venice, from 1507 to 1516. With the doge's permission, he left Venice for London in September 1516, bringing with him ‘a most excellent instrument’, presumably an organ. The reports of the Venetian ambassador, Giustiniani, contain several references to Memo and his triumphs at the English court: that through the offices of Henry VIII he was released from his monastic vows, given a chaplaincy by the king and made ‘chief of his instrumental musicians’; how he was required to play frequently at court, often before foreign ambassadors, and once for four hours at Windsor, where the king had gone to escape the plague. Memo appears to have acted as an agent for the Venetians: in one of his reports to the signory, Giustiniani mentions asking Memo ‘to make his report’. Such political activities may have led to his sudden departure from England (‘for fear of his life’, according to Sanuto) sometime before ...


William F. Prizer

(b Verona, c1470; d, May 1528). Italian priest, composer, singer and lutenist. With Tromboncino and Cara, he was one of the most important frottola composers. He was born in Verona in about 1470, the son of Alberto and Umilia Pesenti. Since he was a priest, he must have studied at the Scuola degli Accoliti in his native city, an institution founded by Pope Eugene IV that produced other cleric-composers, among them Marchetto Cara. Pesenti’s first known position was in Ferrara, where he served Cardinal Ippolito I d’Este, acting as a procurer of music and instruments as well as a lutenist, singer and composer. Already in 1504 he wrote to the cardinal from Venice promising to come to Ferrara as soon as an unnamed gentleman returned his lute. From 1506 his name appears in Ippolito’s payment registers, and it remains there, except for a probably illusory break in ...