1586. Mus. Bac. — John Bull, who had practised music fourteen years.
"This person, who had a most prodigious hand on the
organ, and was famed throughout the religious world
for his Church music, was trained under an excellent
master, Blitheman, organist to Queen Elizabeth."
After taking his degree at Oxford he proceeded Mus. Doc.
at Cambridge, and incorporated at Oxford in 1592; he
would have proceeded Doctor in the ordinary course at
Oxford "had he not met clowns and rigid puritans, who
could not endure Church music."
In 1582 he was appointed
Organist of Hereford Cathedral ; 1585, member, and 1591,
Organist of the Chapel Royal; 1596, first Gresham Professor,
which post he was obliged to resign on his marriage in
1607. In 1601 he went abroad and greatly increased his
reputation as an organist and composer. At St. Omer's,
while travelling incognito, he is said by Wood to have
added in a few hours forty parts to a composition already
written in forty parts, whereupon the composer "swore by
the great God that he that added those parts must either be
the Devil or Dr. Bull." In 1611 he appears as a member
of the household of Henry, Prince of Wales, brother of
Charles I., with a pension of £40. In 1613 he "went
abroad without license," became Organist at the Chapel
Royal at Brussels, and afterwards succeeded Waelrent at
Notre Dame, in Antwerp, in which post he apparently
continued till his death in 1628.
Many of his compositions,
both vocal and instrumental, are extant: in Leighton 's
"Teares and Lamentacions" ; in "Parthenia," in the
so-called "Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book" § in the
Fitzwilliam Museum ; in Peterhouse Library, at Christ
Church, and the Music School at Oxford; in a collection
published by Phalese, at Antwerp, 1629, entitled "Laudes
Vespertina B.M. Virginis"; in Boyce's Cathedral music;
of the compositions, and, in one case, the organ stops, are
His supposed authorship of the National Anthem
was discussed in the Musical Times in 1878.
complete account of his life is given in the "Dictionary
of National Biography," Vol. VII.
Extract: A short historical account of the degrees in music at Oxford and Cambridge. (Williams, C. F. Abdy)