Saturday, November 21, 2015

For All the Saints: John Merbecke, William Byrd, Thomas Tallis

On the Episcopal calendar, three musicians are honored today. John Merbecke (c. 1510- c. 1585) is known as the writer and musician who provided musical uniformity for the first Book of Common Prayer. His work was rediscovered and published in the 1840s, and again in the 20th century.

Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 – 1585), was another English composer. His choral music has been widely anthologized. Although Roman Catholic, he was able to find favor among succeeding 16th century monarchs because of his stylistic adaptability. One of his melodies was made famous by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his piece Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

Tallis worked with the younger composer William Byrd (c. 1539 or 40 - 1623). Byrd wrote Catholic as well as Anglican sacred music. Among other pieces, his three masses are available on contemporary recordings.

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