Thomas Weelkes

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Weelkes, Thomas

Weelkes, Thomas, important English organist and composer; b. c. 1575; d. London, Nov. 30, 1623. He was organist at Winchester Cathedral (1598-1601?), then organist and informator choristarum at Chichester Cathedral. He held both of these positions until his drunkenness led to his dismissal in 1617; he again served erratically as organist from 1622. In 1602 he was granted the degree of B.Mus. at New Coll., Oxford. Weelkes was one of the great English madrigalists, possessing remarkable power in melodic characterization of text. He occasionally used chromatic progressions in harmony that were well in advance of his time. He wrote a considerable amount of church music and instrumental works.


IO services; many anthems (see D. Brown, W. Collins, and P. le Huray, eds., Thomas Weelkes: Collected Anthems, Musica Britannica, XXIII, 1966; 2nd ed., rev., 1975); Madrigals to 3. 4. 5. & 6. Voyces (London, 1597; ed. by E. Fellowes; 2nd ed., rev., 1967, by T. Dart, The English Madrigalists, IX); Balletts and Madrigals to Five Voyces, with One to 6. Voyces (London, 1598; ed. by E. Fellowes; 2nd ed., rev, 1968, by T. Dart, The English Madrigalists, X); Madrigals of 5. and 6. Parts, apt for the Viols and Voices (London, 1600; ed. by E. Fellowes; 2nd ed., rev., 1968, by T. Dart, The English Madrigalists, XI, XII); Ayeres or Phantasticke Spirites for Three Voices (London, 1608; ed. by E. Fellowes; 2nd ed., rev, 1965, by T. Dart, The English Madrigalists, XIII); 4 keyboard pieces; several works for Viols.


C. Welch, Two Cathedral Organists, T. W. (1601-1623) and Thomas Kelway (1720-1744) (Chichester, 1957); W. Collins, The Anthems of T W.(diss., Univ. of Mich., 1960); D. Morse, Word-painting and Symbolism in the Secular Choral Works by T. W., Tudor Composer (diss., N. Y. Univ., 1961).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Weelkes, Thomas (b ?Elstead, Sussex, c.1576; d London, 1623). Eng. composer and organist. Book of madrigals in 3, 4, 5, and 6 vv. pubd. 1597, followed in 1600 by 2 further books, one of 5-part madrigals, the other of 6-part. Organist, Winchester College, 1598. Wrote 6-part madrigal As Vesta was from Latmos hill descending for The Triumphs of Oriana, 1601. Took Mus.B., Oxford Univ., 1602. Organist, Chichester Cath. from c.1601–2. His Ayres or Phantasticke Spirites for 3 vv. was pubd. 1608, and shows a lighter, satirical side to his art. One of greatest of Eng. madrigalists, with daring harmonies and imaginative expression. O Care, wilt though despatch me, Thule, the period of cosmography, and Like two proud armies are among the finest examples of their kind. Wrote much church mus., incl. many anthems (notably Hosanna to the Son of David), and instr. pieces for viols, In Nomines, pavans, etc. Wrote 3-part song, Death hath Deprived me of my Dearest Friend, in memory of Morley. Buried in St Bride's, Fleet Street.

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Weelkes, Thomas (c.1575–1623) English madrigal composer and organist. Almost 100 of his madrigals have survived, the finest being sets of five- and six-part madrigals.

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