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John Dunstable

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John Dunstaple redirects here.

John Dunstaple or Dunstable (c. 1390 – December 24, 1453) was an English composer of polyphonic music of the late medieval era and early Renaissance. He was one of the most famous composers active in the early 15th century, a near-contemporary of Leonel Power, and was widely influential, not only in England but on the continent, especially in the developing style of the Burgundian School.

The spelling “Dunstaple” is generally to be preferred, since it occurs in more than twice as many musical attributions as that of “Dunstable”. The few English musical sources are equally divided between “b” and “p”; however, the contemporary non-musical sources, including those with a claim to a direct association with the composer, spell his name with a “p.”

Life
Dunstaple was probably born in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. His birth date is a conjecture based on his earliest surviving works (from around 1410-1420) which imply a birth date of around 1390. Many of the details of his life are conjectural. Nothing is known of his musical training and background. He was clearly a highly educated man, though there is no record of an association with either Oxford or Cambridge universities. He is widely held to have been in the royal service of John, Duke of Bedford, the fourth son of Henry IV and brother of Henry V. As such he may have stayed in France for some time, since the duke was Regent of France from 1423 to 1429, and then Governor of Normandy from 1429 to his death in 1435.

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