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Classical Composers A-Z: Thomas Tallis

Peter Wintersgill presents an outline of the life of Thomas Tallis, the Father of English cathedral music.

Leicester c 1505. Known as the Father of English Cathedral Music.

Adult Life
Organist at Waltham Abbey till the Dissolution in 1540. Became Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1543, then joint organist there with Byrd. The two were jointly awarded the sole right to print music by Queen Elizabeth in 1575, when they wrote, also jointly, Cantiones Sacrae, a collection of motets, including Salvator Mundi and O Nato Lux.

Other sacred works were O Sacrum Spem in Convivium, The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the large-scale 40-part Spem in Alium. His anthems include If Ye Love Me and O Lord Give Thy Holy Spirit.

He also wrote eight hymn tunes, including the well-known Tallis Canon, and the theme arranged by Vaughan Williams in his Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.

He died at Greenwich on 23rd November, 1585.


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