Given to composers of classical music, the post is roughly comparable to that of Poet Laureate. Duties are not clearly stated, though it is expected for the holder of the post to write music to commemorate important royal events, such as anniversaries, marriages and deaths, and to accompany ceremonial occasions.
The title was created in 1626 by Charles I as Master of the King's Musick (a spelling which was used until the appointment of Malcolm Williamson) and was first given to Nicholas Lanier. At that time the holder of the post took charge of the monarch's private band, a responsibility which continued until the band was dissolved in 1901.
Holders of the post have been: