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Tallis, Thomas


Outstanding composer of Catholic and Anglican liturgical music (also Tallys, Talys); b. Leicester, England, c. 1505; d. Greenwich, Nov. 23, 1585. Tallis, a lifelong Catholic, was probably organist at waltham monas tery, Essex, for some time before its dissolution in 1540. At that time, of 70 laymen, Tallis received the highest gratuity for his services. In 1540 he became lay clerk at Canterbury and from c. 1542 until his death served as a gentleman of the chapel royal under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth I. In 1575, with William byrd, he was given a monopoly on printing music and music paper in England. His Latin works comprise two Masses, two Magnificats, two Lamentations, Office hymns, and about 52 motets. His style varies from the florid to the simple homophonic idiom. Among his best-known works are the 6-voice antiphon Gaude gloriosa, the 40-voice Spem in alium, and the seven-voice Miserere nostri (with six voices in canon). His Office hymns are settings of even-numbered verses with the sarum use chant melody in the treble voice. Tallis was among the first to write liturgical music for English words; included in this category are some 18 anthems and Anglican service music, of which his "Short Service" (or "Dorian Service") is best known.

Bibliography: f. l. harrison, Music in Medieval Britain (New York 1958). g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959) 784786. y. rokseth, "The Instrumental Music of the Middle Ages and Early Sixteenth Century," New Oxford History of Music, ed. j. a. westrup, 11 v. (New York 1957) 3:458464. p. doe, "Thomas Tallis" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980). m. han sard, The Vocal Polyphonic Style of the Latin Church Music of Thomas Tallis (ca. 15051585) (Ph.D. diss. University of Kentucky, 1971). j. r. milsom, English Polyphonic Style in Transition: A Study of the Sacred Music of Thomas Tallis (Ph.D. diss. Magdalen College, Oxford University, 1983). d. moroney, "Under Fower sovereynes" Thomas Tallis and the Transformation of English Polyphony (Ph.D. diss. University of California at Berkeley, 1980). k. moyer, The Anthems of Thomas Tallis (Ph.D. diss. University of Rochester, 1980). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996). n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (New York 1992).

[s. w. kenney]

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