John Bull: biography, creativity, career, personal life

John Bull is known to posterity for composing music, playing harpsichord, organ.

The biography

John Bull was born in the 16th century. His date of birth is unknown. But it was in 1562 or in 1563. The future musician was born in Belgium, in the city of Antwerp.

When the boy was 10 years old, he was accepted into the choir of Hereford City Cathedral. After all, his musical talent was manifested.

In 1582 John becomes organist, and a year later he is appointed head of the choir.

He was a chorister not only of the Cathedral, but also of the Royal London Palace Chapel. But since his Cathedral was in the town of Hereford, Bull had to travel long distances to occasionally excommunicate and to London for a second job. Because of this, he was fired from the Cathedral. Then John Bull moved to work in London.


When John turned 30, he was awarded a doctorate from Oxford, and at the age of 34 he was honoured Honorary title of Professor of Music, becoming the first person to be named so. This was aided by the recommendation of Queen Elizabeth, she liked a talented musician.

John Bull played the organ at various ceremonies, during receptions of foreign guests. Over time, John Bull learned how to make and customize organs. He collected these instruments at the court of the Queen.

When his patroness was not, King Jacob I. He even raised his salary to a talented court musician.

Personal life

Palace intrigues, secret connections typical of the time, were not bypassed by Bull. He had a child out of wedlock. But John was not married. In 1613 he was accused of adultery, due to which he promptly left the misty Albion and arrived in Flanders.

Here the talented musician was invited to the position of assistant organist in the Cathedral of the city of Antwerp. It was in 1615. And two years later Bull became the principal musician at this cathedral.


contribution John Bull made to organ building, the writing of compositions was widely appreciated by contemporaries. But Bull stayed to live in Antwerp, no longer returned to England.


John played beautifully not only on the organ but also on the harpsichord. For these instruments, he created several compositions and also processed preludes, Catholic hymns, dance pieces so that they could be performed on given keyboards.

During his lifetime, one of his works was published; seven plays were included. Among them is a widely known and beautiful piece called “The Royal Hunt”.

Bull also wrote not only solo compositions, but also for small ensembles, which were called consorts at the time.

The notes of the unique organist survive until now. So those who own playing keyboards can try to play amazing vintage tunes.

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