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Thomas Tallis

c.1505-1585. English composer. Considered the greatest composer in England before Byrd,* Tallis in his latter years was closely associated with the latter; they were jointly granted by Queen Elizabeth a twenty-one-year monopoly to print music in the realm. Tallis was organist of Waltham Abbey until the dissolution of 1540. Shortly thereafter he became a gentleman of the Royal Chapel, where he remained until his death. Probably much of his music has been lost, but the quantity which remains reveals him to be a refined and skillful craftsman. His Lamentations and office hymns are particularly beautiful. He wrote a tour de force-his motet, Spem in alium, for eight choirs of five parts each, which builds up to a climax in which all forty parts combine. Some of his English anthems are adapted from earlier Latin motets, but he wrote also much fine music for the English service, including the well-known “If ye love me.” His responses, preces, and cathedral services have been much used.

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