16th century: Music in England
Thomas Tallis (1505-
He was a prominent composer concerning sacred music. We do not know much about his life. It is known that he worked as an organist of Dover Priory. Later on he is found to London (Waltham Abbey, 1538). In 1543 he was sent to Court as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. During his career, religious dogmas were constantly alternated from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism and vice versa. However Tallis managed to avoid religious controversies raging around him. He composed music for them both. Apart from that, he was the teacher of William Byrd and other musicians of the Royal Chapel.
Henry VIII, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth I were among his audience. Queen Elizabeth granted him and his student, William Byrd, the privilege of printing and publishing their music. That was one of the first arrangements of that type in the country. Tallis also had the right to compose and print his music in any language.
He died at his home at the age of 80 years. Thomas Tallis is considered one of the greatest english composers.
Thomas Tallis -
William Byrd (1539-
He wrote music on many of the religious and secular forms of his time. He composed over 470 works and he enjoyed the estimation of his contemporaries. He may had worked with Shakespeare.
Musically, we find him for first time in 1563, when he was organist and music director at Lincoln Cathedral. His life there was not carefree. After criticism and accusations of a number of issues, his salary was significantly reduced. He got married in 1568 and he had seven children.
In 1572 he joined the royal chapel, where he collaborated with Thomas Tallis and he had the monopoly of printing and publishing music with his teacher.
In 1580's Byrd is found to have been implicated in controversies between Catholics and Protestants. He tended more towards Roman Catholicism, which was prohibited in England during the that time. He had been accused many times for rejecting the official dogma, as he used not to attend the Sunday liturgy and he enjoyed to be with "suspicious" people (that is people who might be Catholics). As a result of those categories he was temporarily removed from his position in the Royal Chapel. In the meanwhile, he composed some of his most beautiful works, such as motets "Vigilate", "nescitis enim" and "O quam gloriosum".
During next decade he was back in his official work. In 1589 and 1591 he published the work "Cantiones sacrae". Actually That work consisted of musical anthologies containing a number of English songs and motets, including the famous "Haec dies".
In the meanwhile he printed two books with English songs (Psalms, Sonnets and Songs of Sadness and Pietie -
In 1594 he composed some of the greatest polyphonic works ( that is Catholic compositions) and at age 70 published his last work. Despite the penalties and a turbulent life that he had, he was rather rich when he died.
1.Richard Taruskin: The Oxford history of music, v1
2.Harvard dictionary of music, chorale, second edition, eighth printing
3.Catholic church music by Richad Terry, London Greening & CO., LTD 1907
William Byrd -