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Martin Peerson

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Harpsichord,_About_1750
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Martin Peerson (or Pearson) (born between 1571 and 1573; died December 1650 or January 1651 and buried 16 January 1651) was an English composer, organist and virginalist. Despite Roman Catholic leanings at a time when it was illegal not to subscribe to Church of England beliefs and practices, he was highly esteemed for his musical abilities and held posts at St Paul’s Cathedral and, it is believed, Westminster Abbey. His output included both sacred and secular music in forms such as consort music, keyboard pieces, madrigals and motets.From Peerson’s will and the March marriage registers, it appears that he was the son of Thomas and Margaret Peerson of March, Cambridgeshire, in England. It is believed that Martin Peerson was born in the town of March between 1571 and 1573, as records show that his parents married in 1570, but a “Margaret Peersonn” was married in 1573.[1] It therefore seems that Thomas Peerson died a few years after 1570 and that Martin’s mother remarried.

In the 1580s, Peerson was a choirboy of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London under organist Thomas Mulliner.[2] Subsequently, he came under the patronage of the poet Fulke Greville. On May Day in 1604 Peerson’s setting of the madrigal See, O See, Who is Heere Come a Maying was performed as part of Ben Jonson’s Private Entertainment of the King and Queene at the house of Sir William Cornwallis at Highgate (now in London).

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