Thomas Tomkins

Biography

Born: 1572; St. David's, Pembrokeshire, England   Died: June 9, 1656; Martin Hussingtree, Worcester, England  
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
Read more (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 He continued to write in this style long after it was outdated and (relatively) unfashionable.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 This collection comprised madrigals of a surprisingly outdated style, all of them belonging to the era prima prattica rather than the newer seconda.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. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 98 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Sweet Melancholy / Cellini Consort
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 91604 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Coprario,  Thomas Tomkins,  William Byrd,  Thomas Lupo  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cellini Consort
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  • 2.
    Dialoghi / Gustav Auzinger, Martina Schobersberger
    Label: Fra Bernardo   Catalog: 1507153 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Adriano Banchieri,  Thomas Tomkins,  Aurelio Bonelli,  Giovanni Gabrieli  ... 
    Performer:  Gustav Auzinger,  Martina Schobersberger
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  • 3.
    Poetry in Music: Britten, Howells, Ramsey, Rubbra, Tippett, Tomkins
    Label: Coro   Catalog: 16134 Release Date: 10/02/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Henry Harris,  Michael Tippett,  Thomas Weelkes,  James MacMillan  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
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  • 4.
    Sing with the Voice of Melody / Stile Antico
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807650 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins,  Jacobus Clemens non Papa,  William Byrd,  Nicolas Gombert  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stile Antico
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  • 5.
    The Virtuoso Organist: Tudor & Jacobean Masterworks
    Label: Resonus Classics   Catalog: 10143 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  John Bull,  Anonymous,  Thomas Tallis  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Farr
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  • 6.
    For The Wings Of A Dove: Music Of Supplication And Hope
    Label: Orchid Classics   Catalog: 100046 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Knut Nystedt,  William Byrd,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Oliver [Tenor Vocal] Albert,  Sophia [Soprano Vocal] Halberstam,  Nicholas [Tenor Vocal] Butler,  Nicholas Morris  ... 
    Conductor:  Silas Wollston
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  • 7.
    Madrigals of Madness / Calmus Ensemble
    Label: Carus   Catalog: 83387 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Orlando Gibbons,  Mateo Flecha,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Carlo Gesualdo  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Calmus Ensemble
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  • 8.
    Tomkins: Sacred Choral Works / Nethsingha
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 804 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins
    Performer:  Freddie James,  Sam Oladeinde,  Tom Blackie,  Hamish [Countertenor Vocal] McLaren  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Nethsingha
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  • 9.
    Vigilate! / Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir
    Label: Soli Deo Gloria Records   Catalog: 720 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Philips,  Robert White,  Thomas Tallis,  William Byrd  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir
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  • 10.
    Music Of The Kingdom
    Label: Coro   Catalog: 16122 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Thomas Tallis,  William Byrd,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  Neil MacKenzie,  Simon Berridge,  Elin Manahan Thomas,  Eamonn Dougan  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
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  • 11.
    Time Stands Still: Elizabethan & Jacobean Songs And Keyboard Music
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6255 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  John Dowland,  Philip Rosseter,  Thomas Campion  ... 
    Performer:  David Ponsford,  Simon Ponsford
    CD: $14.99
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  • 12.
    Das Alte Werk - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Jeannette Van Wingerden  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Werner Ehrhardt,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Leonhardt Consort,  Studio for Early Music  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 13.
    Pierre Hantai - Complete Recordings
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5358 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  William Byrd,  Anonymous,  Martin Peerson  ... 
    Performer:  Hugo Reyne,  Pierre Hantaď,  Sébastien Marq,  Danny Bond  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Hantaď
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert Français
    CD: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Tears: Harpsichord Laments From The Seventeenth Century
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72617 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Johann Jacob Froberger,  Louis Couperin,  Melchior Schildt  ... 
    Performer:  Ewald Demeyere
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  • 15.
    John Dowland & Friends: Lute Songs
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1223 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude de Sermisy,  John Dowland,  Thomas Weelkes,  Thomas Tomkins  ... 
    Conductor:  Anthony Rooley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of Musicke
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  • 16.
    Basically Bull / Alan Feinberg
    Label: Steinway & Sons   Catalog: 30019 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins,  John Bull,  William Byrd,  John Blitheman  ... 
    Performer:  Alan Feinberg
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  • 17.
    English Royal Funeral Music: Purcell, Morley, Tomkins
    Label: Ricercar   Catalog: 332 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  Thomas Morley,  Thomas Tomkins,  Thomas Weelkes
    Conductor:  Lionel Meunier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vox Luminis
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  • 18.
    Renaissance Radio / The Tallis Scholars
    Label: Gimell   Catalog: 212 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Josquin Des Préz,  Cypriano de Rore,  Jacobus Clemens non Papa  ... 
    Performer:  Deborah Roberts,  Andrew Carwood
    Conductor:  Peter Phillips
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
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  • 19.
    The Glory Of New College
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2091 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Taverner,  William Byrd,  Thomas Tallis,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Higginbottom
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford New College Choir
    Recommendation
    CD: $21.99
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  • 20.
    Organs Of Edinburgh
    Label: Delphian   Catalog: 34100 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Percy Whitlock,  Alfred Hollins,  Louis Vierne,  Dietrich Buxtehude  ... 
    Performer:  John Kitchen,  Thomas Laing-Reilly,  Andrew Caskie,  Duncan Ferguson  ... 
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    CD: $74.49
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  • 21.
    Fitzwilliam Virginal Book Vol 1 / Pieter-Jan Belder
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94303 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Bull,  Giles Farnaby,  Martin Peerson,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  Pieter-Jan Belder
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    CD: $11.99
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  • 22.
    Tune thy Musicke to thy Hart / Stile Antico
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807554 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins,  John Amner,  John Taverner,  Robert Ramsey  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stile Antico,  Fretwork
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  • 23.
    Vision At Covenant
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 931 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stanley,  Harold Drake,  Charles Tournemire,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Forbes Sommerville
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  • 24.
    English Anthem Collection From Oxford / Harper, Magdalen College Choir
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 4001 Release Date: 01/17/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Thomas Morley,  John Farmer,  Richard Farrant  ... 
    Conductor:  John Harper
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
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  • 25.
    Choral Classics - Choral Classics From Cambridge
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9234 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giovanni Palestrina,  Gregorio Allegri,  Robert Ramsey,  Thomas Weelkes  ... 
    Performer:  Jennifer Ward-Clarke,  Jonathan Brown,  Elizabeth Kenny,  Robert Howes  ... 
    Conductor:  Timothy Brown,  Stephen Cleobury,  Christopher Robinson,  Matthew Best
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir,  Baroque Brass of London,  Cambridge King's College Choir  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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