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Thomas Morley
 
 
 
 
Thomas Morley, (born 1557/58, Norwich, England—died October 1602, London), composer, organist, and theorist, and the first of the great English madrigalists.

Morley held a number of church musical appointments, first as master of the children at Norwich Cathedral (1583–87), then by 1589 as organist at St. Giles, Cripplegate, in London, and by 1591 at St. Paul’s Cathedral. In 1592 Morley was sworn in as a gentleman of the Chapel Royal.

It is highly probable that Morley converted to Roman Catholicism early in life, perhaps under the influence of his master, William Byrd. By 1591, however, Morley had defected from the church, for in that year he engaged in espionage work among the English Roman Catholics in the Netherlands.

About that time, Morley evidently began to recognize the possibilities that were offered by the new popularity of Italian madrigals fitted with English texts, for he began publishing sets of madrigals of his own composition. Morley published 25 canzonets (“little short songs,” as he referred to them) for three voices in 1593; in 1597 he published 17 for five voices, and 4 canzonets for six voices in the same year. His first madrigals—a set of 22—appeared in 1594, and 20 ballets were published in 1595. The latter were modeled on the balletti of Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi but expressed more elaborate musical development and a stronger sense of harmonic direction than Gastoldi’s. Morley excelled in the lighter and more cheerful types of madrigal or canzonet.




 

Among his works are a considerable proportion of Italian madrigals reworked and published by Morley with no acknowledgment of the original composers—a practice not uncommon at the time. In 1598 Morley brought out a volume of English versions of selected Italian madrigals; and in that same year he was granted a monopoly to print music in England for 21 years. His textbook, A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597), provides knowledge of the theoretical basis of composition of Morley’s own time and that of earlier generations.

Morley’s compositions are written in two distinct styles that may be chronologically separated. As a pupil of Byrd he was trained in the premadrigalian English style of broad and strong polyphony; his volumes of the 1590s, however, exhibit his mastery of Italian madrigal style and are characterized by a direct effectiveness, gentle harmonic warmth, springy rhythms, and clarity of texture.

Morley edited The Triumphes of Oriana (published 1603), a collection of 25 madrigals by various composers. His last volume of original compositions was The First Booke of Ayres (1600). Morley’s body of work also includes services (primary music of the Anglican liturgy), anthems, motets, and psalms. The six-voice motets “Laboravi in gemitu meo” and “De profundis clamavi” are considered among his best works.

 
 
 
"First Book of Ayres"
 
 
Ayre
 
Ayre, also spelled air , genre of solo song with lute accompaniment that flourished in England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The outstanding composers in the genre were the poet and composer Thomas Campion and the lutenist John Dowland, whose “Flow, my teares” (“Lachrimae”) became so popular that a large number of continental and English instrumental pieces were based on its melody. Other leading composers included John Danyel, Robert Jones, Michael Cavendish, Francis Pilkington, Philip Rosseter, and Alfonso Ferrabosco.

Generally, ayres are graceful, elegant, polished, often strophic songs (i.e., songs having the same music for each stanza), typically dealing with amorous subjects. But many are lively and animated, full of rhythmic subtleties, while others are deeply emotional works that gain much of their effect from bold, expressive harmonies and striking melodic lines.

  The ayre developed during a European trend toward accompanied solo song (in place of songs for several voices). Chansons, madrigals, and other polyphonic songs were frequently published in versions for voice and lute, and books of ayres often provided for optional performance by several singers, by having, opposite the solo and lute version, the three additional voice parts printed so that they could be read from three sides of a table.

In the 17th century the scope of the term ayre (and its variants) expanded to include various instrumental pieces. Most of these were movements of dance suites scored primarily for viols or members of the violin family.

Notable composers of instrumental ayres included John Jenkins and Simon Ives.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 
Thomas Morley -1600 (First Booke of Songs or Ayres...) "Mistress Mine"
 
by Rómulo Vega-González
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Morley - Nolo mortem peccatoris
 
The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford
David Crown (conductor)

St Catherine's Church (Katharinenkirche), Brandenburg an der Havel
19 July 2009

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Morley - Phillis, I fain would die now
 
Sung by the Clerkes of Oxenford - Director David Wulstan. This madrigal was published in his second book of Madrigals published in 1595. Morley acnowledged a new fashion in English vocal music, this time for solo songs with lute accompaniment, this exclaims one mans love for a woman, but she being a 'comeleye and sober person lyvyng yn the syte of God must deny love' and the man's anguish at being turned down.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Morley - Various madrigals and canzonets
 
Recorded by Ensemble Amaryllis
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Morley - My Bonny Lass She Smileth
 
The Cambridge Singers conducted by John Rutter
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Now is the month of maying", a Madrigal by Thomas Morley, performed by The King's Singers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Morley - April is in my Mistress' face
 
S: Sara Botkin, Melissa Raymond, Cynthia Shaw
A: Grace Check, Ariane Reinhart
T: Thom Baker, Marcos Vigil
B: Steve Friedman, Gregg Lauterbach, Mark Sullivan
 
April is in my Mistress' face,
And July in her eyes hath place.
Within her bosom is September,
But in her heart, a cold December.
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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