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Thomas Tomkins

1572 - June 9, 1656
born in St. David's, Pembrokeshire, England, composed during the Baroque period
Thomas Tomkins was a Renaissance English composer known primarily for his virginal music and sacred music. A somewhat conservative composer, his substantial surviving music includes liturgical music, Anglican anthems, madrigals, and varied keyboard and consort works.

Tomkins was born into a musical family. His father, also named Thomas, was a vicar-choral of the Cathedral of St. David's, and his siblings became, variously, a composer (John), an organist (Giles) and a consort musician (Robert). He was, like Robert Morley, a student of Byrd and his master's style of music continued to influence his music all his life. Around 1596, he succeeded Nathaniel Patrick as organist to Worcester Cathedral, a post that he retained for most of his life. By 1620, he was full member of the Chapel Royal, and it appears that he divided his time between Worcester and London. In 1621, he became organist to the Chapel Royal, a very prestigious post, which he held jointly with Orlando Gibbons. He was nominated for the position of Composer of the Kings Music in 1628, but lost out to Alfonso Ferrabosco.

After 1628, he appears to have spent more time in Worcester. With the pre-civil war unrest, clashes between the radical Worcesterians and the more conservative Cathedral clergy grew nasty. Upon the outbreak of active civil war, roundheads attached the Cathedral and the organ dismantled in 1646. Tomkins, however, stayed in Worcester near the cathedral for another eight years before moving to the town of Martin Hussingtree, where his son Nathaniel lived. He died two years later.

Tomkins was the last of the school of English composers in the mold of Byrd. He continued to write in this style long after it was outdated and (relatively) unfashionable. His great collection of madrigals, for example, was his Songs of 3, 4, 5, and 6 Parts published in 1622. This collection comprised madrigals of a surprisingly outdated style, all of them belonging to the era prima prattica rather than the newer seconda. His large number of anthems fared somewhat better. His instrumental music, while also old-fashioned for the time, is compositionally sound and contains some very inventive work.

This clinging to older practices perhaps accounts for Tomkins' rather confused position in music history. Some scholars praise him as a genius. Some damn him as a dilettante. The truth, however, lies between these two extremes. He was simply a talented, if highly conservative composer, who wrote in a style that obviously pleased himself rather than the dictates of fashion. ~ David Cashman, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Thomas Tomkins: Choral & Organ Music

Title: Great And Marvellous Are Thy Works, For Chorus & Organ
Title: My Shepherd Is The Living Lord, For 2 To 4 Voices & Organ
Title: Fifth Service
Title: Voluntary For Keyboard
Title: Funeral Sentences
Title: Pavane And Galliard, Earl Strafford, For Harpsichord
Title: Arise, O Lord, Into Thy Resting Place
Title: Above The Stars My Saviour Dwells, For 1 To 6 Voices & Organ
Title: When David Heard That Absalom Was Slain, For 5 Voices
Title: Sad Pavan, For Organ
Title: Then David Mourned, For 5 Voices & Organ
Title: Behold, The Hour Cometh, For 3 To 4 Voices & Organ
Title: Almighty God, The Fountain Of All Wisdom, For 5 Voices & Organ
Title: O Sing Unto The Lord A New Song, For 7 Voices & Organ

Comments

tchitcherine
Wales is not now part of England. It is, though, part of Great Britain and the United Kingdom.
ackerbex3
But in the 1600's, as now, Wales is part of England.
lexleder
I believe Pembrokeshir e is in Wales, not England.

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