Richard Ayleward

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Richard Ayleward (1626–1669) was an English composer and musician. He was born the son of a canon in Winchester Cathedral and, upon the English Restoration, was appointed organist and choir master of Norwich Cathedral.

During the Interregnum he no doubt did much writing of choral pieces, possibly for private home performance, as, to mark the coronation of Charles II, he produced twenty-five anthems, all showing highly original composition. During the year 1664–1665, Ayleward gave up his position at Norwich, and he appears to have been away at "the assizes". There is no indication of what caused this "call". However, he was reappointed in 1665 and remained at his position until his death in 1669.

His compositions are unusual in that they call for three or four solo voices in the same range, in some cases, and they required massive resources for full performance. They were extensively scored works for many, many performers, and greater personnel than Norwich may have possessed in its regular choir. All the manuscripts of his compositions were owned by Norwich Cathedral, and these were purchased by A. H. Mann and published.

Some of Ayleward's hymns and musical settings for evensong (especially his Responses) remain in use in the Church of England.


  • Granger, PR, Peter Aston, Tom Roast. "Richard Ayleward" in Sade, Stanley, ed. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. New York: Macmillan, 2001. vol. 2, p 264.
  • Spink, Ian. "Richard Ayleward" in Matthew, H.C.G. and Brian Harrison, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. vol. 3, p 14. London: OUP, 2004.

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