Morley, Thomas

born 1557/58, Norwich, Norfolk, Eng.
died October 1602, London

English composer, organist, and music theorist.

He was educated at Oxford and studied with William Byrd. Though he composed a number of anthems and psalms, he is best known for his secular songs, including those published in the First Booke of Ayres (1600), and for the treatise A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musick (1597). By editing and printing several anthologies of Italian music (often reworked), he was instrumental in bringing the Italian madrigal to England. He also edited The Triumphes of Oriana (published 1603), the most significant collection of English madrigals.

* * *

▪ British composer
born 1557/58, Norwich, England
died October 1602, London

      composer, organist, and theorist, and the first of the great English madrigalists (madrigal).

      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 (Byrd, William). 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 (madrigal) fitted with English texts, for he began publishing sets of madrigals of his own composition. Morley published 25 canzonets (canzonet) (“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 (anthem), motets (motet), and psalms. The six-voice motets "Laboravi in gemitu meo" and "De profundis clamavi" are considered among his best works.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • MORLEY, Thomas — (1557 1603) Thomas Morley was an English composer particularly known for his madri­gals and other secular dance music. Little is known about his early life. He was a pupil of William Byrd,* from whom he purchased a royal monopoly to print music… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Morley, Thomas — ► (1558 1603) Músico inglés. Autor de Los triunfos de Oriana (colección de madrigales). * * * (1557/58, Norwich, Norfolk, Inglaterra–oct. 1602, Londres). Compositor, organista y teórico musical inglés. Fue educado en Oxford y estudió con William… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Morley, Thomas — (1557 or 1558, Norwich, England – early October 1602, London)    Composer, he studied with William Byrd and composed four Anglican services (first, second, short, and burial), 19 anthems, seven English psalm settings, and 14 Latin motets, all of… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Morley, Thomas — (?1557/58 1602)    Where he was born is uncertain, but he was one of England s great organists and composer of madrigals. He was a pupil of William Byrd (1540 1623) and possibly a chorister of St. Paul s Cathedral. He graduated bachelor of music… …   British and Irish poets

  • Thomas Morley — Nacimiento 1557 o 1558 Fallecimiento octubre de 1602 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Thomas Morley — (* 1557 oder 1558 vermutlich in Norwich; † Oktober 1602 in London) war ein englischer Komponist, Musikwissenschaftler und Organist der Renaissance. Im Jahr 1588 erlangte Morley, der ein Schüler William …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • MORLEY (T.) — MORLEY THOMAS (1557 1603) La vie de ce compositeur coïncide à peu près exactement avec le règne d’Élisabeth Ire dont il est l’un des musiciens les plus brillants et les plus représentatifs. Né à Norwich, Thomas Morley est associé à divers titres… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Thomas Morley (disambiguation) — Thomas Morley may refer to:*Thomas Morley, 16th century English composer *Thomas de Morley, 4th Baron Morley *Thomas de Morley, 5th Baron Morleyee also*Tom Morley, English singer …   Wikipedia

  • Morley — Morley, Henry Morley, Thomas * * * (as used in expressions) Callaghan, Morley (Edward) Michelson Morley, experimento de Morley (de Blackburn), John Morley, vizconde Morley, Thomas …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Morley — puede referirse a: Morley (Inglaterra) Morley (Mosa) Morley (músico) Edward Morley Eric Morley Isaac Morley Karen Morley Paul Morley Robert Morley Sean Morley Sylvanus Morley Sylvanus Grisworld Morley Thomas Morley …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.