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Thomas Tallis

1505 - November 23, 1585
born in England, composed during the Renaissance period
The career of Thomas Tallis, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, spanned a period of spectacular change in the English liturgical climate. Born early in the sixteenth century, his first musical appointment was as organist to a Benedictine (Catholic) Priory in Dover, two years before Henry VIII's definitive break with Rome in 1534. By 1537, Tallis was serving a London parish church as organist; in 1538 he was performing the same task for the Abbey of Holy Cross, Waltham, though this position evaporated when King Henry dissolved the monasteries in 1540. After a brief clerkship at Canterbury Cathedral, Tallis joined the Chapel Royal, where he played, sang, and composed for the remainder of his life, serving in turn Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth I. Among the lavish rewards he eventually reaped was a famous bequest of 1575, giving him and his young pupil, William Byrd, a complete monopoly on the printing of music and ruled music paper in England.

The liturgical music in England during this time underwent great changes, not the least of which was the shift between Latin and vernacular texts. At the outset of Tallis' career, the prevailing English style of Latin music followed the soaring treble-dominated textures of the previous century, as exemplified in the Eton Choirbook; his early Latin motets reflect this. But by the late 1540s, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was working toward a standard liturgical practice, built around his Book of Common Prayer, that would finally replace the Sarum (English Latin) rite in 1559 with exclusively vernacular worship music. The reign of the Catholic "Bloody" Mary Tudor briefly interrupted this trajectory towards the vernacular with a militant resurgence of Catholic music in an older style; Tallis' Missa Puer natus and the motet Gaude gloriosa apparently date from this time. Stylistically, the church music of England over the second half of the century was yielding to the influence of the Continental imitative style, through the music of the transplanted Italian, Ferrabosco.

Through all these changes, Tallis appears to have retained a professional steadiness and respectability, making music and composing with grace and equanimity as his situation changed. His English-language settings range from simple treatments of the psalms to anthems (such as Hear the Voice and Prayer) to three complete settings of the Anglican Service; this music is commonly imbued with a somber and penitential mood. His Latin-texted pieces, whether following the stylish "modern" mode of pervasive imitation or not, demonstrate restraint and even tenderness. (One of the few exceptions, though, is his best-known work today, an over-the-top and still rather mysterious experiment in polychoral writing, the 40-voiced Spem in alium). Surprisingly little of Tallis' instrumental music survives, despite his over 50 years of professional organ playing. ~ Timothy Dickey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Tallis: Mass for Four Voices / Motets

Title: Loquebantur Variis Linguis, Motet For 7 Voices, P. 272
Title: Salvator Mundi (I) (Also Set As "Arise O Lord" And "With All Our Hearts"), Motet For 5 Voices, P. 216
Title: O Sacrum Convivium (Also Set As "I Call And Cry To Thee" And "O Sacred And Holy Banquet"), Motet For 5 Voices, P. 210
Title: Audivi Vocem, Motet For 4 Voices, P. 90
Title: Sancte Deus, Motet (antiphon) For 4 Voices, P. 98
Title: Videte Miraculum, Motet For 6 Voices, P. 293
Title: Te Lucis Ante Terminum (Procul Recedant Somnia) (I), Motet For 5 Voices, P. 214
Title: In Manus Tuas, Motet For 5 Voices, P. 202
Title: Mass, For 4 Voices, P. 31
x

Track List: Tallis: Spem In Alium; Missa Salve Intemerata

Title: Spem In Alium (Also Set As "Sing And Glorify"), Motet For 40 Voices, P. 299
Title: Salve Intemerata Virgo, Motet (antiphon) For 5 Voices, P. 144
Title: Mass "Salve Intemerata", For 5 Voices, P. 3
Title: Salvator Mundi (I) (Also Set As "Arise O Lord" And "With All Our Hearts"), Motet For 5 Voices, P. 216
Title: Discomfort Them O Lord, For 5 Voices (contrafacta Of Absterge Domine)
Title: O Sacrum Convivium (Also Set As "I Call And Cry To Thee" And "O Sacred And Holy Banquet"), Motet For 5 Voices, P. 210
x

Track List: The Tallis Scholars Sing Thomas Tallis

Disc 1
Disc 2

Comments

imagine hearing the choirs come from the different transepts of the cathedrals as intended
so beautiful
Thomas Tallis and Thomas Luis de Victoria are great for adding in a peaceful night's sleep.
Spem. Is my favorite !!! ABSOLUTELY ANGELIC
This music is so beautiful. It has awakened a spirit inside me.
l
50 shades.. thomas tallis..
What a dedicated composer - love Anglo music.
This music is gorgeous and well planned out
This music is so gorg
cherylconkli n 1
Beautiful music.
Good composition!
veronicaandc a r l o s
dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually work
tsteenj3
Love Tallis!!! Beautifully orchestrated music for the soul! :)
jamiecraft
New to me, however it will forever be comfort for my soul.
Studying English history while listening to Thomas Tallis's choral music is one of the most beautiful, underrated things that a human can experience.
dmcchesney65
calming
omahhum
Ah Tallis! I remember still the first time I sang his two settings of the Lamentations , even though it's 35 years ago at least. Breathtaking !
Tallis is my favorite. His music is absolutely beautiful.
oskorupski
I sing many of these Tallis motets in my acapella group. I feel this music celebrates the beauty of life and is some of the greatest art that has been created by humankind. While the indescribabl e tapestry of sound creates a mythological dimension that transcends ordinary daily life, I find nothing religious whatsoever in the music, regardless of the the liturgical or vernacular texts with which Tallis happened to clothe it.
Oh Tallis, thank you for helping me to really feel the meaning of these texts. A truly inspired man.
Where are the orchestra pieces?
marciaboyles
I have long listened to popular music on Pandora,but was delighted to discover that Baroque choral music was also provided when requested. Tallis' pieces are especially lovely and serene, I think.
mstrayhorne
This period in English history is a scholarly hobby of mine and it is really nice to listen to the music while I read. Thanks Pandora!
Its as if I'm in the mist of Angels...on my way up into the presence of my Lord. Thank you for offering this music...it means so very much to me.
wefly
I love this kind of music, so calm and peaceful. I always think of a choir in a magnificent cathedral with the sun shining in a stained glass window!
It has always been hard to find early music online, so it's a pleasure to find it here. I am so glad that this sublime music is included in the choices available to us.
An exceptional adjunct to morning yoga!
It really is sublime--I keep thinking that one day I'll get tired of listening to Tallis and his friends, but not yet!
anglophile45
etherial...
arico.gabe
I'm glad I'm not the only one who listens to this music for the pleasure of it. :)
I'm very excited to find the likes of Tallis, Glass, Muhly, Monk here. I have been watching the Showtime series "The Tudors," and this helps the Thomas Tallis story line come alive.
Tallis wrote some of the most sublime choral works of the Renaissance period.
Please add some of the albums from the Tallis Scholars. Thanks.

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