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John Dunstaple (abt. 1390 - 1453)

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John Dunstaple aka Dunstable
Born about in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in London, Englandmap [uncertain]
Profile last modified | Created 23 Jul 2018
This page has been accessed 27 times.

Categories: English Classical Renaissance Composers.



John Dunstaple was probably born in Dunstable, Bedfordshire around 1390. Many of the details of his life are unclear, including his musical training and background, but he was highly educated, with a reputation as an astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician though there is no record of him attending either Oxford or Cambridge. He likely served John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, the fourth son of Henry IV and brother of Henry V and later, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the fifth son of Henry IV. Unlike many composers of the time, he was probably not a cleric, and was likely married, He was, first and foremost, a composer of late medieval/early Renaissance polyphonic music , 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..He passed away on 24 December 1453. [1][2]

Research notes: Compositions

Of the works attributed to him only about fifty survive, among which are two complete masses, three sets of connected mass sections, fourteen individual mass sections, twelve complete isorhythmic motets (including the famous one which combines the hymn Veni creator spiritus and the sequence Veni sancte spiritus, and the less well-known Albanus roseo rutilat mentioned above), as well as twenty-seven separate settings of various liturgical texts, including three Magnificats and seven settings of Marian antiphons, such as Alma redemptoris Mater and Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae. Dunstaple was one of the first to compose masses using a single melody as cantus firmus. A good example of this technique is his Missa Rex seculorum. He is also believed to have written secular music, but no songs in the vernacular can be attributed to him with any degree of certainty: although the French-texted rondeau Puisque m’amour is attributed to Dunstaple in two sources.[3][4]


  • 1996 - Dunstaple: Sacred Works, Orlando Consort. Metronome METCD1009.
  • 2003 – Canticum Canticorum. In Praise of Love: The Song of Songs in the Renaissance. Capilla Flamenca. Eufoda 1359. Contains a recording of Quam pulchra es by John Dunstable
  • 2012 – O rosa bella, Ave maris stella and Quam pulchra es by John Dunstaple have been recorded by the Lumina Vocal Ensemble


  1. Margaret Bent: "Dunstaple", Oxford Studies of Composers. London, Oxford University Press, 1981; ISBN 0-19-315225-8
  2. Margaret Bent: "Dunstaple [Dunstable], John (d. 1453), composer", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription access)
  3. Margaret Bent: "John Dunstaple", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed January 19, 2006), (subscription access)
  4. Stanley Boorman, et al. "Sources, MS." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed December 29, 2008).

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