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Friday Arts Feature - Spem In Alium

by Chauncey Tinker – 4 Oct 2019

Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Tallis worked for a time.

Image By Wenceslaus Hollar - Artwork from University of Toronto Wenceslaus Hollar Digital CollectionScanned by University of TorontoHigh-resolution version extracted using custom tool by User:Dcoetzee, Public Domain, Link

Most of the works I have shared so far in the Friday Arts Feature have been relatively obscure, but today’s work is probably known to most of my readers I would suspect. Still it is worth sharing for the sake of those who have not yet heard it, it is one of those works that actually does send shivers down my spine. For 40 voices, 8 five part choirs, it is a religious work in Latin that was written around 1570 during the reign of Elizabeth I, by Thomas Tallis.

I think this is probably my favourite performance of the work, by the Tallis Scholars, although many fine performances are available:

Here is an alternative instrumental performance played by 40 cellos:

The composer Thomas Tallis was born while Henry VII was still alive. It is rumoured that from a very early age he was associated with the Chapel Royal, and he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1543 towards the end of the reign of Henry VIII. He continued to live and compose through the reigns of three succeeding monarchs; Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. He was a tutor for another composer I mentioned recently, William Byrd. Tallis died in 1585.

The work may have been first performed at Nonsuch Palace:

Image By Joris Hoefnagel - British Museum, Public Domain, Link

Have a good weekend everyone.


From Wikipedia:

Thomas Tallis

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