NPR logo

Nico Muhly: Senex Puerem Portabat (Los Angeles Master Chorale/Grant Gershon)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129866416/129879236" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
First Loves: Nico Muhly, Beguiled By Byrd

First Loves: Nico Muhly, Beguiled By Byrd

The topic of the week is "First Loves," stories about the very first piece of classical music you fell in love with.  Below, composer Nico Muhly recalls the special feeling he had, as a boy chorister, for the music of William Byrd. Tell us your "First Love" story in the comments section below.

As a boy chorister, Nico Muhly was inspired by the melding of words and music by William Byrd. Samantha West hide caption

toggle caption Samantha West

As a boy chorister, Nico Muhly was inspired by the melding of words and music by William Byrd.

Samantha West

I remember singing Byrd's Senex Puerum Portabat as a boy, and freaking out about how beautiful it was.  Up to that point, I was a mediocre pianist and a so-so chorister.  I remember being so struck by the fluidity of the lines, the relentless lilting rhythm, and the way Byrd both avoided and cradled the text, and decided that a life in music mightn't be the worst thing in the world.

William Byrd: Senex Puerem Portabat (King's College Choir/David Wilcocks)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129866416/129884111" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Muhly was so inspired by Byrd's music and his setting of the text, that he set the same text himself, on his new CD, "A Good Understanding."

Nico Muhly: Senex Puerem Portabat (Los Angeles Master Chorale/Grant Gershon)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129866416/129879236" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Purchase: Amazon.com

Nico Muhly is a New York-based composer who has just released not one, but two, albums ("A Good Understanding" and "I Drink the Air Before Me") on the Decca label.  This week he appears as a guest host on WQXR's new music stream, Q2.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.