Robert Carver (composer)

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Robert Carver (also Carvor, Arnot;[1] c. 1485 – c. 1570) was a Scottish Renaissance monk and composer of Christian sacred music.

He is regarded as Scotland's greatest sixteenth-century composer. He is best known for his polyphonic choral music, of which there are five surviving masses and two surviving motets. The works that can definitely be attributed to him can be found in the Carver Choirbook[2] held in the National Library of Scotland.

His work, noted for the gradual build-up of ideas towards a resolution in the final passages, is still performed and recorded today. Carver was influenced by composers in continental Europe, and his surviving music differs greatly from that produced by many of his contemporaries in Scotland or England at the time.

He was the subject of the 1991 BBC radio play Carver by John Purser, which won one of the Giles Cooper Awards for that year.


He spent much of his life at Scone Abbey. The Carver Choirbook refers to the composer as having the alias Robert Arnat.[2] A man of the same name was recorded as a canon of the Chapel Royal of Scotland, in Stirling Castle, in the same period.

Known compositions[edit]

The following works are attributed to Robert Carver in the Carver Choirbook:[2]

  • Dum Sacram Mysterium. A mass for ten voices.
  • L'homme Armeé. A mass for four voices.
  • Pater Creator Omnium. A mass for four voices.
  • Fera Pessima. A mass for five voices.
  • An unnamed mass for six voices.
  • O Bone Jesu. A motet for nineteen voices.
  • Gaude Flore Virginali. A motet for five voices.


  1. ^ Kenneth Elliott. "Robert Carvor", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 13 January 2014), (subscription access).
  2. ^ a b c National Library of Scotland

External links[edit]