William Byrd was a student of Thomas Tallis, the leading composer of the Chapel Royal, and may have served as a Chapel Royal choirboy in his youth. Even though he remained a Catholic throughout his life, he obtained the prestigious post of Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572. This career move vastly increased Byrd's opportunities to widen his scope as a composer and to make important contacts at Court. Elizabeth I, a moderate Protestant who shunned the more extreme forms of Puritanism, retained a fondness for elaborate music and ritual. Overlooking Byrd's Catholicism, she granted him several favors, including a joint exclusive patent with Tallis for printing music and ruled music paper in 1575. Byrd's output of Anglican church music is surprisingly small, but it stretches the limits of elaboration then regarded as acceptable by some reforming Protestants who regarded highly wrought music as a distraction from the Word of God. His post in the Chapel Royal was briefly suspended in the 1580s when he ran into serious trouble over his associations with more radical Catholics.
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