Posts Tagged ‘ English choral music ’

Pelham Humfrey (±1648 —1 674): By the waters of Babylon

2
January 16, 2015

Pelham Humfrey started his career as one of the 'forwardest & brightest' boys recruited for the Chapel Royal by  Henry Cooke who had been ordered by Charles II to restore English Church Music to its former glory. He was probably a Londoner but nobody really knows all that much about his origins. What we do know is that 'forward and bright' really only begins to describe his musical talent who already had written several anthems by the time his voice broke aged sixteen. Aged sixteen he was sent to Paris on full pay for two years to study music and on his return proved himself to be a master musician and composer who succeeded to the post of royal choirmaster when Cooke died in 1672. Sadly he only outlived his old master by two years but in that two years he produced some remarkably fine music including By the waters of Babylon. It's a symphony anthem – one of fourteen that he composed, and clearly demonstrates his skill at crafting musical structures in in which the vocal and instrumental components are organically linked, rather than just tacked together which had been the norm up to then. It's a somewhat unusual symphony anthem in that it opens with a short prelude rather than the full symphony which appears as a dance measure towards the end. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Jesu salvator saeculi

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January 14, 2015

Tallis' setting of the compline hymn Jesu salvator saeculi (Jesus, saviour of the age) is an alternim setting that alternates the chant and composed music retaining the cantus firmus in the top part. Under Sarum usage it would have been sung between low Sunday and Ascension it's typical of the new style of hymnody pioneered by Tallis and his contemporaries eschewing the massive polyphonic 'wall of sound' of earlier generations in favour of an elegant simplicity and textual clarity.  Enjoy :-).

mfi

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John Taverner (±1490–1545): Christe Jesu, pastor bone

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December 16, 2014

While the carols sung in Elizabethan England were often distinctly secular and in English, the music sung in the Cathedrals, at court, and in University Chapels was, despite the reformation, still permitted to be sung in Latin, of course making it crystal clear where your loyalties lay was also a very good idea. Taverner's Christe Jesu, pastor bone Jesu is a good example (as well of course as being very good music). Enjoy :-).

mfi

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John Taverner (±1490 – 1545): Quemadmodum

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November 21, 2014

When Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace money for the college he founded suddenly became very scarce. This decided Taverner to leave his post at the college and retire to Boston where he remained for the rest of his life. He continued to compose and Quemadmodum  a setting of the first verses of Psalm 41 (42) is one of the products of that time. It's a refined and poised piece of musical that for its time was  very daring and radical piece of work. It continued Taverner's breaking free from the Tudor mould that paved the way for the music of The English Reformation. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): O Lord Blessed be thy name

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November 6, 2014

Tallis 180 x 1501641 was a momentous year in English and Irish history during that year Strafford the King's right hand man was impeached by Parliament, tried, and executed. Archbishop Laud was imprisoned, Parliament passed The Triennial Act,  there was a major Irish Uprising,  and Parliament issued The Grand Remonstrance.  Less momentous perhaps but no less important from a musical standpoint John Barnard published the sole collection of liturgical music to be published in England in the eighty years between 1560s and the Civil War.  The 'First Book of Selected Church Musick' as it was called contained only compositions from composers who who were no longer living and whose works represented the Elizabethan and Jacobean repertory of English cathedrals and major parish churches. Amongst this repertory were four English contrafcta by Tallis of which Blessed be thy name — a contrafactum of Mihi autem nimis, is one. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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