Born in 1464 in Lincolnshire, Fayrfax became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal by the mid-to-late 1490s, and from 1497 onwards was granted ecclesiastical benefices, a frequent perquisite for well-connected singers. He was at the head of the list of singers at Henry VIII’s coronation in 1509, the new king having granted him an annuity of just over £9 four days previously. In the meantime he had taken the degree of Mus.B. at Cambridge (1501) and advanced to a D.Mus. in 1504, submitting the Missa O quam glorifica
as his doctoral exercise. (The extreme rhythmic and proportional complexities of this piece may be attributed to its status as an examination piece—the earliest surviving one in music.) Later in life he was associated with St Albans: he died in October 1521 and was buried in the Abbey.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2009