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