Born 1562 died 1628. Bull was one of the boys in Queen Elizabeth’s Chapel Royal. At the age of about twenty he became organist of Hereford Cathedral. A few years later he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and a Mus. Doc. of both Cambridge and Oxford. At about forty he petitioned Queen Elizabeth for a grant `to relieve his great poverty, which altogether hinders his studies’; the petition was successful. Later he was appointed by-the Queen Professor of Music at Gresham College, in the City, and had to give –
` The solemn music lecture twice every week, in manner following, viz. the theoretique part for one half-hour, or thereabouts, and the practique, by concert of voice or instruments, for the rest of the hour, where of the first lecture should be in the Latin tongue and the second in English ; but because at this time Mr. Dr. Bull, who is recommended to the place by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, being not able to speak Latin, his lectures are permitted to be altogether in English, so long as he shall continue in the place of music lectyrer there ‘.
In 1607 when King James I dined at Merchant Taylors’ Hall,
` John Bull, Doctor of Musique, one of the organists of His Majesties Chappell-royall, and free of the Merchant-taylors, being in a citizen’s gowne, cappe, and hood, played most excellent melodie upon a small payre of Organes,’ placed there for that purpose onley’.
At the age of about fifty Bull went abroad, ‘ being possessed of crotchets as many musicians are’ or (alternatively) `through the guilt of a corrupt conscience to escape the punishment which notoriously he had deserved and was designed to have inflicted on him by the hand of justice’. He lived successively at Brussels and Antwerp, being organist of the cathedral at the latter place. There he died. He was of great fame as Virginalist and Organ player and composer. He also wrote Church Music.
Bull seems to have been on terms of friendship with the great Dutch organist, Sweelinck. Bull wrote a Fantasia on a Fugue of Sweelinck’s, and Sweelinck included a canon by Bull in his book on Composition. As a virtuoso performer of the first rank, it is more than probable that Bull’s influence on Sweelinck was considerable. It was Sweelinck who founded the great Dutch and North German school of organ playing. His pupil Scheidemann handed the tradition to Reinken, and Reinken greatly influenced Bach, who, as a boy, frequently walked to Hamburg to hear him (see Grove’s Dictionary, under ‘ Sweelinck’, ` Reinken’, and ` Bach ‘). So there is a link established between Bull and Bach, and, in fact, Bull stands at the beginning of the period of development of contrapuntal instrumental music which Bach closed.
FURTHER READING. W. Barclay Squire’s article in Grove’s Dictionary ; passages in Walker and in Davey, and in Anderton’s Early English Music ; a chapter in Bridge’s Twelve Good Musicians.
PRINTED Music. A good selection of the Keyboard Music is edited by Bantock (Novello, 4s.), and another by Pauer (Augener, 4s.), and there is a useful volume of easy pieces, edited by Margaret Glyn (Joseph Williams, 2s. 6d.). Some of these pieces are very attractive, but they are usually brilliant, rather than solid (like Gibbons’) or tender (like Farnaby’s).
GRAMOPHONE RECORD. Galliard (played on the Harpsichord by Mrs. Gordon Woodhouse ; H. M. V.).