John Bull

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Bull, John

Bull, John, famous English organist and composer; b. probably in Old Radnor, Radnorshire, c. 1562; d. Antwerp, March 12, 1628. He became a chorister at Hereford Cathedral in 1573. In 1574 he joined the Children of the Chapel Royal and studied music with William Blitheman and Willian Hunnis. In 1582 he became organist at Hereford Cathedral, and in 1583 he also became its master of the choristers. In 1586 he received his B.Mus. and in 1592 his D.Mus. from the Univ. of Oxford. He was sworn in as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in Jan. 1586, becoming its organist in 1591. In 1596, on Queen Elizabeth’s recommendation, he was appointed prof, of music at Gresham Coll., and on March 6, 1597, was elected first public lecturer there. He got into difficulties with Gresham Coll. when he impregnated premaritally a maiden named Elizabeth Walter, and was forced to resign on Dec. 20, 1607; he hastened to take a marriage license 2 days later. In 1610 he entered the service of Prince Henry, but in 1613 was charged with adultery and had to flee England. In Sept. 1615 he became asst. organist at the Antwerp Cathedral in Belgium, and was named its principal organist on Dec. 29, 1617. In the Netherlands he became acquainted with the great Dutch organist and composer Sweelinck; both he and Bull exerted considerable influence on the development of contrapuntal keyboard music of the time. Bull also composed many canons and anthems. Various works previously attributed to him are now considered doubtful. For a modern edition of his keyboard works, see J. B.: Keyboard Music in Musica Britannica, XIV (ed. by T. Dart, F. Cameron, and J. Steele, 1960; 2nd edition, rev., 1967) and XIX (ed. by T. Dart, 1963; 2nd edition, rev, 1970).

Bibliography

W. Cunningham, The Keyboard Music of J. B. (Ann Arbor, 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Bull, John (b ?Old Radnor, c.1562; d Antwerp, 1628). Eng. composer and virginalist. In Hereford Cath. choir 1573. Choirboy in Queen Elizabeth I's Chapel Royal from 1574. Org., Hereford Cath. 1582–5, Gentleman of Chapel Royal 1586; D.Mus., Oxford and Cambridge, and first Gresham Public Reader in Mus., London 1597. Granted pension by James I in 1605. Active as org.-builder 1609. In 1613, accused of adultery and fornication, he fled from Eng. to Belg., becoming organist, Chapel Royal, Brussels, and of Antwerp Cath., 1615 until his death. Friend of Sweelinck.

His importance is as a highly skilled performer on and ingenious composer for the virginals, as in his Walsingham (30 vars. on a theme). He ranks as one of the founders of kbd. perf. and the kbd. repertory. He contributed to Parthenia, 1611. One of his comps. is called God Save the King but bears no resemblance to the nat. anthem; however, another untitled piece by Bull is a possible source of this melody.

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John Bull. The character of John Bull was invented by John Arbuthnot in a series of pamphlets, Law is a Bottomless Pit, published in 1712. Bull's sturdy honesty contrasted with the wily Frenchman Lewis Baboon. He became popular with cartoonists in the early 19th cent. and acquired the Pickwickian squat top hat and the Union Jack waistcoat. His heyday was the later Victorian period, when he appeared in countless Punch cartoons. A popular magazine, taking the name, was founded in 1906 by Horatio Bottomley.

J. A. Cannon

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John Bull • n. a personification of England or the typical Englishman, represented as a stout, red-faced farmer in a top hat and high boots.

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John Bull Symbolic representation of the typical Englishman and, by extension, of England itself. The name was popularized by Dr John Arbuthnot's History of John Bull (1712).

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John Bull: see Arbuthnot, John.