Thomas Morley

Biography

Born: 1557; Norwich, England   Died: October, 1602; London, England  
Thomas Morley, though born the obscure son of a Norwich brewer, rose over the course of his life to centrality in nearly every aspect of Elizabethan musical culture. Though no records of his early training survive, he apparently studied with William Byrd, as the dedication of his theoretical treatise A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) calls Byrd his "Master." His professional career included service at the Cathedral of Read more Norwich (1583 to July 1587), a Bachelor's degree in Music from Oxford in 1588, service as organist at St. Paul's in London from 1589, and a position as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal as of 1592. From 1593 until his death (apparently in 1602), he presented a total of eleven musical publications - compositions, arrangements, and writings -- which brought him to the forefront of national attention. He may have been friends with Shakespeare.

Many of his own compositions, especially those for the Church, betray the influence of his teacher Byrd. A small number of Latin motets, and a selection of Anglican anthems abound in severe (and well-wrought) counterpoint; three full Anglican services and a setting of the Funeral Sentences, however, display more clarity and simplicity of texture. His keyboard works and consort music demonstrate skill and fluency in an inherited idiom.

The most influential of Morley's varied musical activities was his effort on behalf of the madrigal; indeed, he was a prime force in the adoption of this quintessential Italian form into the world of Elizabethan England. In 1595 he printed a volume, with parallel English and Italian editions, of canzonets and one of balletts, adapting and arranging these lighter Italian pieces by Anerio and Gastoldi to English usage; these were followed by two more anthologies of Italian music in 1597 and 1598. A large number of his own English madrigals were also printed; many of which are artful rearrangements of Italian models, such as Sing we and Chant It, which expands Gastoldi's A lieta vita, while others broach original themes in the style, including his best-known madrigal April is in my Mistress' Face, from the first book of madrigals of 1594. His very last publication, the Triumphs of Orianna (1602), presents a collection of his own and others' madrigals which honor the Queen. Throughout these works, Morley concentrates on lighter forms, avoiding the more "serious" devices of word-painting and chromaticism.

In addition to his work as organist, church composer, madrigalist, editor, and music printer, he assumed the Crown Monopoly on music printing first awarded to Byrd. In 1597 Morley authored a "Practicall" treatise on the notation and composition of music ("that in our vulgar tongue which of all other things hath been in writing least known to our countrymen"). The volume is passionate and quite readable, demonstrating its author's deep researches into the development of music, especially Italian music, and his desire to make his knowledge available to the public. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 149 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Shakespeare Songs / Bostridge, Pappano
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 557549 Release Date: 09/23/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gerald Finzi,  William Byrd,  Thomas Morley,  John Wilson  ... 
    Performer:  Antonio Pappano,  Ian [Tenor Vocals] Bostridge,  Elizabeth Kenny,  Lawrence Power  ... 
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  • 2.
    Fitzwilliam Virginal Book / Koopman
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 8002 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Picchi,  Orlando Gibbons,  Thomas Morley,  John Bull  ... 
    Performer:  Ton Koopman
    CD: $11.99
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  • 3.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    Renaissance Music: England, Italy, Spain, Mexico / Hillier,  Hilliard Ensemble
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556723 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giovanni Gastoldi,  Antonio Caprioli,  Loyset Compčre,  Phillippe Verdelot  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
    CD: $19.99
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  • 5.
    Greensleeves: Folk Music of the British Isles / Monks, Armonico Consort
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 447 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Geoffrey Webber,  Thomas Morley  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Vine,  Eloise Irving,  Philippa Murray,  Guy Simcock  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Monks
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
    CD: $17.99
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  • 6.
    Archiv Produktion: Analogue Stereo Recordings (1959-1981)
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 002490502 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Pierre Vachon,  Nicolas-Marie Dalayrac,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Stader,  Hedwig Bilgram,  Hertha Töpper,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  August Wenzinger,  Karl Ristenpart,  Robert Stehli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Orchestra,  Munich Bach Choir,  Loewenguth String Quartet  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $111.98
    CD: $106.49
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  • 7.
    The Sound of Shakespeare
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 555057 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Edmund Kete,  Traditional,  Robert Johnson  ... 
    Performer:  David Douglass,  Paul O'Dette,  Emily van Evera,  Lyle Nordstrom  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Hillier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
    CD: $15.99
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  • 8.
    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
    CD: $17.99
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  • 9.
    A Varietie of Lute Lessons / North
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 97 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Dowland,  Lorenzini da Roma,  Anthony Holborne,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel North
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  • 10.
    Viri Galilaei: Favourite Anthems from Merton / Choir of Merton College
    Label: Delphian   Catalog: 34174 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jonathan Dove,  Thomas Tallis,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Thomas Morley  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas,  Peter Phillips
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford Merton College Choir
    CD: $19.99
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  • 11.
    A Musical Journey into the English Renaissance / Stile Antico
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908727 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  William Byrd,  Thomas Tallis,  John Sheppard,  John Taverner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stile Antico
    CD: $18.99
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  • 12.
    Love is Strange: Works for Lute Consort
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 305 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Johnson,  Benjamin Cosyn,  Anthony Holborne,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Vincent Dumestre,  Massimo Moscardo,  Benjamin Perrot,  Jean-Luc Tamby  ... 
    Conductor:  Vincent Dumestre
    CD: $9.99
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  • 13.
    Cynthia's Revels
    Label: First Hand Records   Catalog: 36 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anthony Holborne,  Richard Dering,  Anonymous,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  Leo Chadburn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Flautadors Recorder Quartet
    CD: $19.99
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  • 14.
    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
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 15.
    Emma Kirby - The Complete Recitals [12-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002268802 Release Date: 03/03/2015   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Richard Edwards,  Thomas Campion,  John Dowland,  John Danyel  ... 
    Performer:  Emma Kirkby,  Anthony Rooley,  David Thomas,  Trevor [viola da gamba] Jones  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Consort of Musicke,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 16.
    A Painted Tale / Nicholas Phan
    Label: Avie   Catalog: 2325 Release Date: 02/17/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Morley,  Henry Purcell,  Anonymous,  John Blow  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Leopold,  Nicholas Phan,  Ann-Marie Morgan
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Europaische Chormusik / Eric Ericson, Stockholm Choir
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 1158855 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  Luigi Dallapiccola,  Ildebrando Pizzetti,  Lars Johan Werle  ... 
    Performer:  Marianne Mellnäs,  Björn Haugen,  Sven-Erik Alexandersson,  Carl-Eric Hellström  ... 
    Conductor:  Eric Ericson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stockholm Chamber Choir,  Stockholm Radio Chorus,  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra members
    CD: $26.99
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  • 18.
    Delightful Companion / Les Gouts-Authentiques
    Label: Aliud   Catalog: 70 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Carr,  Bernardino Lupacchino,  Orlando de Lassus,  Ioan Maria Tasso  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Goűts-Authentiques
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    Pavans & Fantasies from the Age of Dowland / John Holloway
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 002079602 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Dowland,  Henry Purcell,  William Lawes,  John Jenkins  ... 
    Performer:  Renate Steinmann,  Monica Baer,  John Holloway,  Susana Hefti  ... 
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  • 21.
    Richardson: Complete Works For Harpsichord  / Glen Wilson
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 572997 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferdinando Richardson,  Thomas Morley,  Alfonso Ferrabosco,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  Glen Wilson
    On sale! $12.99
    CD: $9.99
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  • 22.
    About Time / Tetra Guitar Quartet
    Label: Bgs (British Guitar Society)   Catalog: 124 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Stephen Goss,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Roland Dyens  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tetra Guitar Quartet
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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  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
    CD: $230.49
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  • 24.
    Heaven & Earth: Pieces From The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
    Label: Satirino   Catalog: 132 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  William Tisdale,  William Byrd,  Ferdinando Richardson  ... 
    Performer:  Kenneth Weiss
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  • 25.
    Le Parler Et Le Silence
    Label: Ramee   Catalog: 1206 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Bassano,  Luzzasco Luzzaschi,  Gioseffo Guami,  Girolamo Frescobaldi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Attaignant Consort
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