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Thomas Tomkins


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Thomas Tomkins (1572–1656) was a Welsh-born composer of Cornish origins of the late Tudor and early Stuart period. In addition to being one of the prominent members of the English Madrigal School he was a skilled composer of keyboard and consort music.

He was born in St David’s in Pembrokeshire. His father was also a musician, a vicar choral of the cathedral of St Davids, and organist there; his three half-brothers were musicians as well, but none attained the fame of Thomas. In 1596 he was appointed as a choral instructor at Worcester Cathedral. He almost certainly studied with William Byrd for a time in London, as he dedicated a madrigal to him as his teacher. While in London he probably met Thomas Morley, as Morley included one of Tomkins’ madrigals in his important collection The Triumphs of Oriana in 1601.

He became a Gentleman Ordinary of the Chapel Royal some time before 1620, and became senior organist there in 1625. He appears to have withdrawn from the post in about 1628. Apparently he was still employed by Worcester Cathedral for the next two decades, but when the city was captured by Parliamentary forces in 1646, during the Civil War, he lost his job, though he was allowed to continue living near the cathedral. Music (with the exception of the singing of metrical psalms) was abolished in all churches, and the Worcester Cathedral organ (which Tomkins had commissioned in 1614) was destroyed and the choir disbanded. Tomkins moved in with his son, and lived with him until his death on 9th June 1656.


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  • Shrink125

    And 9 months later no one has removed the offending images!

    10 Mar 2010 Reply
  • Shrink125

    As pointed out below one image is from the late 18th century, and the other is a portrait of Charles I by van Dyke! OOOOPS! Still a century late, better than 2 I suppose1 :)

    17 Jun 2009 Reply
  • Chastelard

    Erm... that current picture is of a different Thomas Tomkins, painted by Joshua Reynolds in 1789. You can clearly see that the hairstyle is wrong for the 17th century. I don't think any likenesses survive of Tomkins the composer.

    22 Jan 2009 Reply
  • Grosseteste

    What on Earth is wrong with "Thomas Tomkins"? People who add the red warning graphic should have the courtesy to let people know why.

    22 Sep 2008 Reply

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