Composer. He was called the "Father of English Church Music." In his works Tallis showed enormous skill in the use of polyphony, especially in the magnificent Latin motet for 40 voices, "Spem In Alium" (c. 1573). He also wrote in a more unison style for his settings of English religious texts, and was one of the first to write verse anthems, a genre still employed in Anglican services. Some of his important pieces were published in "Cantiones Sacrae" (1575). Little is known of Tallis' life. He was organist of Waltham Abbey from 1536 until its dissolution in 1540. In 1542 he was appointed a gentleman and organist of the Chapel Royal, titles he later shared with his distinguished pupil, William Byrd. Tallis served under four monarchs (Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Elizabeth I), more than any other English musician. This was all the more remarkable because he was a Catholic and remained one despite his duties to the newly-formed Church of England. In 1575 Queen Elizabeth granted Tallis and Byrd exclusive rights to print and sell music in Great Britain for 21 years. Tallis' "Third Mode Melody" (1567) inspired Ralph Vaughan Williams to compose his famous "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis" (1910).
Bio by: Bobb Edwards