Thomas Weelkes

Biography

Born: October 25, 1575; Elsted, Sussex, England   Died: December 1, 1623; London, England  
Thomas Weelkes has been known as one of the great names in the flowering of the Elizabethan madrigal, in a class with Morley, Wilbye, and Gibbons. Unlike many of his famous contemporaries, however, Weelkes never seems to have served the royal household in London, rather eking out a living as a provincial church musician. He first privately served noble patrons George Phillpot and then Edward Darcye, following this with an uneasy tenure as Read more Winchester College organist from 1598 to 1602. He then took the appointment as organist and choirmaster at Chichester Cathedral, with a lucrative clerkship on the side. Unfortunately, he spent the greater part of his church career being reprimanded by the ecclesiastical authorities; he was "noted and famed for a common drunkard and notorious swearer and blasphemer," and was dismissed from his musical duties at least once. After the death of his wife in 1622, Weelkes left all his responsibilities and spent his last year in London.

His first (and best-known) compositions fed the tremendous vogue for Italianate music in Elizabethan England. In comparison to the then-recent publications of Morley, Weelkes lacked the elder madrigalist's graceful simplicity in the form; his resounding sonorities and imaginative contrasts, however, were already present in the First Book of Madrigals (3-6 voices, 1597). The volumes of 1598 (5 voices) and 1600 (5 and 6 voices) present Weelkes' best work, and some of the best English madrigals of all time. Weelkes' style in this music coalesces his understanding of the tradition of Flemish polyphony through the Englishman William Byrd, with Weelkes' own fascination with Italian music, especially the rich text-painting and daring chromaticism of Marenzio. Other characteristic traits include embedded musical contrasts, such as those in O care, thou wilt despatch me; the brilliant sonorities of Thule, the period of Cosmography; and the careful structural constructs found in his contribution to Morley's volume of Orianna madrigals: As Vesta was from Latmos hill descending.

Weelkes' long tenure serving the Church yielded a rich (though lesser-known) harvest of liturgical compositions. He produced both "Full" and "Verse" anthems, the latter involving passages written for soloists. The Verse Anthems afforded him more room for text-sensitivity, in addition to being more practically suited to a smaller, provincial choir. However, the fullness of his textures brings a note of brilliance and grandeur to the Full Anthems, such as his Hosanna to the Son of David. He also wrote 10 complete Anglican Services, more restrained (and again practical) in style, the mark of a conscientious, if sometimes ill-behaved, church musician. These Services often demonstrate deep structural relationships between the various canticles and even contain motivic ties to related anthems. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 78 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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  ... 
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  • 2.
    Weelkes: Sacred Choral Music / Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
    Label: Delphian   Catalog: 34070 Release Date: 08/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Weelkes
    Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
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  • 3.
    The Lamentations Of Jeremiah / Rahe, Jugendchor Osnabruck
    Label: Carus   Catalog: 83330 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Thomas Weelkes,  Thomas Tallis,  Carlo Gesualdo  ... 
    Performer:  Franz-Josef Rahe
    Conductor:  Johannes Rahe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Osnabrück Boy's Chorus
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Weelkes: Anthems & Madrigals / Consort of Musicke
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1217 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Weelkes
    Performer:  Emma Kirkby
    Conductor:  Anthony Rooley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of Musicke
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  • 6.
    O Still, Small Voice Of Calm / Hogan, Bideler, Cincinnati Cathedral Choristers
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 7243 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Halley,  Traditional,  Adolphus Hailstork,  Richard Proulx  ... 
    Performer:  Nicholas Bideler
    Conductor:  Charles Hogan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Cathedral Choristers
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  • 7.
    On A Cold Winter's Day / Quadriga Consort
    Label: Carpe Diem   Catalog: 16293 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Turlough O'Carolan,  Thomas Weelkes,  Nikolaus Newerkla
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quadriga Consort
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  • 8.
    Advent at St. Paul's / Scott, St. Paul's Cathedral Choir
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55463 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Giovanni Palestrina,  Jacob Handl,  Martin Peerson  ... 
    Performer:  Philip Martin,  Martin Oxenham,  Timothy Burtt,  Andrew Lucas  ... 
    Conductor:  John Scott
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Paul's Cathedral Choir
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  • 9.
    Once As I Remember... / Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4806553 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Cowper,  Anonymous,  Giovanni Palestrina,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Elinor Carter,  Nicola Jenkin,  Katherine Fuge,  Julian Podger  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir
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  • 10.
    O Poore Distracted World! - English Songs & Anthems / Weimann, Les Voix Baroques
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 22630 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Martin Peerson,  John Coprario,  Henry Purcell,  Robert Ramsey  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Weimann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Voix Baroques
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  • 11.
    Royal Rhymes And Rounds / The King's Singers
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 307 Release Date: 06/19/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  King VIII Henry,  William Cornysh,  Anonymous,  Ellis Gibbons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
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  • 12.
    Thomas Weelkes: Grant The King A Long Life
    Label: Obsidian Records   Catalog: 708 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Weelkes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Cambridge Sidney Sussex College Choir
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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    The Treasury Of English Church Music
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0846402 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Anonymous,  John Merbecke,  Robert Parsons,  Charles Villiers Stanford  ... 
    Performer:  Harry Gabb,  Harry Bramma,  Richard Seal,  Simon Preston  ... 
    Conductor:  Denis Stevens,  Douglas Guest,  Sir George Thalben-Ball,  John Dykes Bower  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Singers,  Ambrosian Players,  Westminster Abbey Choir  ... 
    CD: $35.99
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  • 16.
    Treasures Of Christ Church / Darlington, Choir Of Christ Church Cathedral
    Label: Avie   Catalog: 2215 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stephen Darlington,  John Rutter,  Howard Goodall,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Darlington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Christ Church Cathedral Choir
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  • 17.
    English Anthems From Oxford - Byrd To Britten / Harper, Magdalen College Choir
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1137 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Thomas Tallis,  Richard Farrant,  Thomas Weelkes  ... 
    Conductor:  John Harper
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
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  • 18.
    All The Queen's Men - Music For Elizabeth I / Sarum Consort
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572582 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Weelkes,  Thomas Hunt,  William Byrd,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Mackay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sarum Consort
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  • 19.
    In The Beginning / Choir Of Merton College, Oxford
    Label: Delphian   Catalog: 34072 Release Date: 01/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Nicolas Gombert,  Gustav Holst,  Gabriel Jackson  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas,  Peter Phillips
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford Merton College Choir
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  • 20.
    Dialogues Of Sorrow / Crouch, Gallicantus
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 210 Release Date: 10/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Ramsey,  Thomas Ford,  William Cranford,  John Ward  ... 
    Performer:  Elizabeth Kenny
    Conductor:  Gabriel Crouch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gallicantus
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  • 21.
    Renaissance Brass Music / Paris Instr Ens, Eastman Brass Qnt
    Label: Vox Allegretto   Catalog: ACD 8154 Release Date: 05/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Gabrieli,  Andrea Gabrieli,  Anthony Holborne,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Verne Reynolds,  Daniel Patrylak,  Philip Collins,  Donald Knaub  ... 
    Conductor:  Florian Hollard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Instrumental Ensemble,  Eastman Brass Quintet
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  • 22.
    Passion - Sacred Masterpieces
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94032 Release Date: 05/04/2010   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Various,  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Conductor:  Timothy Brown
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
    CD: $48.99
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  • 23.
    Musica Sacra - Lamentations
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 93775 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tomkins,  William Byrd,  Josquin Des Préz,  Giovanni Palestrina  ... 
    Conductor:  Timothy Brown
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
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  • 24.
    Chanticleer On The Air - Live Radio Highlights
    Label: Chanticleer Records   Catalog: 8807 Release Date: 10/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Josquin Des Préz,  Giovanni Palestrina,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Thomas Weelkes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chanticleer
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  • 25.
    England, My England / Choir Of King's Choir Cambridge
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 28944 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Thomas Weelkes,  David Goodenough,  Frederick Delius,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Stephen Cleobury
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Sinfonia of London,  Academy of Ancient Music  ... 
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