Robert Parsons is remebered for two things: his Ave Maria and his death. The Oakham School cleverly combines these two things in a program note:
Many Catholics composed settings of the Ave Maria as it is one of the chief prayers, often said as one dies. Whether Robert Parsons (15277[sic]-1570) remembered to say this when he was drowning in the River Trent at Newark is unknown, but he did leave behind a luminous 5-voice setting which some see as the crown of Tudor polyphony.
As a gentlemen at the Chapel Royal, Tallis and Byrd would have known Parsons. They would also probably be able to clear up some of the confusion over exactly when he drowned. Both 1570 and 1572 appear in the literature.
My guess is he was not in the process of drowning for two years.
More: Previously in the Notable Deaths of Notable Church Musicians Series.
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