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Thomas Tomkins


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 He continued to write in this style long after it was outdated and (relatively) unfashionable.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 This collection comprised madrigals of a surprisingly outdated style, all of them belonging to the era prima prattica rather than the newer seconda.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
Tomkins: Consort Music For Viols And Voices, Keyboard Music
Release Date: 06/27/1995   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550602   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 99 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Music for Troubled Times / Gameson, Ebor Singers
    Label: Resonus Classics   Catalog: 10194 Release Date: 07/07/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  William Lawes,  John Hutchinson,  Thomas Tomkins  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Gameson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ebor Singers
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  • 2.
    The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, Vol. 5 / Belder
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95308 Release Date: 01/27/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Mundy,  Ferdinando Richardson,  Anonymous,  Thomas Tallis  ... 
    Performer:  Pieter-Jan Belder
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  • 3.
    Time Stands Still / Chylek
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 1864 Release Date: 01/06/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Anonymous,  John Dowland,  Robert Johnson  ... 
    Performer:  Friederike Chylek
    CD: $19.99
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  • 4.
    Remembrance / Ross, Choir of Clare College Cambridge
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907654 Release Date: 10/21/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Farrant,  Thomas Tomkins,  Anonymous,  John Tavener  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Jorysz
    Conductor:  Graham Ross
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  • 5.
    Insane Harmony: English Music 1650-1700 / Musica Alta Ripa
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 3091961 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  William Lawes,  Thomas Tomkins,  Matthew Locke  ... 
    Performer:  Danya Segal,  Albert Brüggen,  Anne Rohrig,  Ulla Bundies  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Alta Ripa
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  • 6.
    God So Loved the World: English Choral Music / Mailander, Figuralchor Koln
    Label: Carus   Catalog: 201699 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Parsons,  Jonathan Battishill,  John Blow,  Thomas Tomkins  ... 
    Performer:  Martina Mailänder
    Conductor:  Richard Mailänder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Figuralchor Köln
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  • 7.
    Renaissance Music: England, Italy, Spain, Mexico / Hillier,  Hilliard Ensemble
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 556723 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giovanni Gastoldi,  Antonio Caprioli,  Loyset Compčre,  Phillippe Verdelot  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
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  • 8.
    Tomkins: Anthems & Canticles / Hyde, Dreyfus, Choir of Magdalen College, Phantasm
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 9040 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins
    Conductor:  Laurence Dreyfus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phantasm (Viol Consort)
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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    Her Heavenly Harmony: Profane Music from the Royal Court / The Queen's Six
    Label: Resonus Classics   Catalog: 10164 Release Date: 04/01/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Morley,  Thomas Tomkins,  Thomas Tallis,  Thomas Weelkes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Queen's Six
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  • 11.
    Dialoghi / Gustav Auzinger, Martina Schobersberger
    Label: Fra Bernardo   Catalog: 1507153 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Adriano Banchieri,  Aurelio Bonelli,  Giovanni Gabrieli,  Mexican Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Gustav Auzinger,  Martina Schobersberger
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  • 12.
    Poetry in Music: Britten, Howells, Ramsey, Rubbra, Tippett, Tomkins / Christophers, The Sixteen
    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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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    A Year At Ely / Paul Trepte, Choir Of Ely Cathedral
    Label: Regent   Catalog: 441 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard R. Bennett,  William James Kirkpatrick,  Samuel Sebastian Wesley,  Charles Wood  ... 
    Performer:  Alex Berry,  Edmund Aldhouse
    Conductor:  Paul Trepte
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  • 17.
    Music of the Realm: Tudor Music for Men's Voices
    Label: Resonus Classics   Catalog: 10146 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Thomas Morley,  Thomas Tomkins,  Thomas Tallis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Queen's Six
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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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  ... 
    CD: $230.49
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  • 24.
    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
    SuperAudio CD: $18.99
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  • 25.
    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
    CD: $12.99
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