Singing 'to preserve the health of man'

It's Advent 1603. As a Catholic, William Byrd enjoyed the patronage and protection of Elizabeth I but now, the early years of James I bring change and turbulence and a renewed threat to Catholics following the Reformation. Byrd's wife, Juliana, convinces him not to be afraid and to continue with his composition.

David Suchet stars as the English Renaissance composer Byrd, "The Father of English Music", in this five-part Radio 3 drama, "To preserve the health of man".

In five imagined encounters, Byrd looks back at key influences in his life and work, as he composes his major liturgical work, the Gradualia, a collection of 109 pieces written for each of the feasts and events in the Church calendar.

All five episodes are available on BBC Sounds.

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