chapter  4
Who was John Dunstaple?
Pages 32

Accounts of fifteenth-century music would seem incomplete without John Dunstaple’s name.1 His reputation was clear even during his own lifetime when the influence of his musical talents was reflected in the complimentary verses of Martin le Franc.2 Histories of Western music have continued to feature Dunstaple as representative of a flowering of English music in the fifteenth century; Davey’s History of English Music, for example, portrayed Dunstaple as a man whose musical contribution was revolutionary:

As with the sound of trumpets, announcing the arrival of high personages or the preparation for solemn ceremonies, even so should this chapter begin; for now I have to relate how Englishmen led musicians out of the arid desert where for centuries they had wandered since escaping from the bondage of Greek theories [. . .]. England may well be proud that the one evergreen refreshing spot in the long wilderness is the Rota of Reading Abbey; and England may well be proud that the Pisgah-sight into the Promised Land, and the first footing on its pastures, were granted to a school of English musicians, of whom the chief was John Dunstable.3