Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morley, Thomas

MORLEY, THOMAS (1557–1604?), musician, was born in 1557. This date is determined by the title of a 'Domine non est' preserved in the Bodleian Library, which runs : 'Thomæ Morley, aetatis suse 19. Anno Domini 1576' (Grove, App. p. 720). He was a pupil of William Byrd, and possibly a chorister of St. Paul's Cathedral. He graduated Mus. Bac. at Oxford on 6 July 1588, and about three years later was appointed organist to St. Paul's. This post he resigned on being elected, on 24 July 1592, gentleman of the Chapel Royal, by which title he always describes himself in his works. He was also appointed epistler to the Chapel Royal, and on 18 Nov. 1592 gospeller.

In 1598 he was granted a patent, dated 11 Sept., similar to that previously held by Byrd, by which he enjoyed the exclusive right of printing books of music and selling ruled paper. While this remained in force it was as his 'assignes' that William Bartley, Thomas Este, Peter Short, John Windet, and others printed and issued musical works. On 7 Oct. 1602 Morley was succeeded at the Chapel Royal by George Woodson, having probably resigned his post on account of his ill-health, to which he makes reference in his 'Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke.' The date of his death is uncertain; Hawkins and Burney both state it to have taken place in 1604.

Morley's skill and grace in the composition of madrigals are undoubted, but he has been accused of wholesale thefts from such Italian sources as the works of Anerio and Gastoldi. His reputation mainly rests on his work entitled 'A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke,' London, 1597, which, as the first satisfactory musical treatise published in England, enjoyed great popularity for nearly two centuries. Eleven years after its first appearance it was reissued with a new title-page, and as late as 1771 a second edition was published, with an appendix of motets, &c., in score. In the seventeenth century Johann Caspar Trost, organist of St. Martin's, Halberstadt, translated it into German, under the title of 'Musica Practica.' Morley's published compositions include : 1. 'Canzonets, or Little Short Songs to Three Voyces,' London, 1593; other editions 1606 and 1631. German translations of this were published at Cassel in 1612, and at Rostock in 1624. 2. 'Madrigalls to Foure Voyces, the first Booke,' London, 1594; 2nd edit. 1600. 3. 'The First Booke of Ballets to Five Voyces,' London, 1595. An edition of this with Italian words was published in London in the same year, and another, with English words, in London in 1600. A German translation was published at Nuremberg in 1609. The original was reprinted for the Musical Antiquarian Society by E. F. Rimbault in 1842. 4. 'The first Booke of Canzonets to Two Voyces, containing also seven Fantasies for Instruments,' London, 1595; reprinted in 1619. 5. 'Canzonets, or Little Short Aers to Five and Sixe Voices,' London, 1597. 6. ' The First Booke of Aires, or Little Short Songs, to sing and play to the Lute with the Base Viol,' London, 1600. In this is a setting of the Page's song, 'It was a Lover and his Lass,' from ' As you like it,' which is interesting as one of the few pieces of original Shakespearean music which have survived. It is reprinted in Knight's 'Shakspeare,' and also in Chappell's 'Popular Music of the Olden Time.' His canzonets and madrigals for three and four voices were republished by W. W. Holland and W. Cooke, London [1808?], and six of his canzonets for two voices have been edited in score by Welcker.

Morley edited: 1. 'Canzonets, or Little Short Songs to Foure Voyces, selected out of the best approved Italian Authors,' London, 1597. To this he contributed two madrigals of his own. 2. 'Madrigals to Five Voyces, selected out of the best approved Italian Authors,' London, 1598. 3. 'The First Booke of Consort Lessons, made by divers exquisite Authors for sixe Instruments to play together, viz. the Treble Lute, the Pandora, the Citterne, the Base Violl, the Flute, and the Treble Violl,' London, 1599; another edition, enlarged, 1611. 4. 'Madrigales. The Triumphs of Oriana, to Five and Sixe Voyces, composed by divers several Authors,' London, 1601; it is dedicated to Charles Howard, earl of Nottingham (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iv. 185-8). To this collection of twenty-five madrigals in praise of Queen Elizabeth Morley contributed two of his own. It was reissued, 'now first published in score,' by W. Hawes, London, 1814. In this edition four madrigals were added.

'Seven pieces for the Virginal' by Morley are included in the manuscript collection known as 'Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book,' preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and three in 'Will. Forster's Virginal Book,' preserved at Buckingham Palace. He wrote a considerable amount of church music, none of which was printed in his lifetime. Services in D minor and G minor and an anthem were subsequently printed by John Barnard in his 'First Book of Selected Church Music,' 1641, and in the manuscript collection made by Barnard for this work (and preserved in the library of the Sacred Harmonic Society) are a preces, psalms and responses, and three anthems by Morley. A Burial Service by him, the first of the kind written to English words, was printed by Dr. Boyce in vol. i. of his 'Cathedral Music,' 1760, and in James Clifford's 'Divine Services and Anthems,' 1663, are the words of several anthems by him. Some of his choral works are included in the manuscript collection of cathedral music made by Thomas Tudway for Lord Harley about 1720 (Harl. MSS. 7337-42). Manuscripts of Morley's are preserved in the Music School and Christ Church Libraries at Oxford, and in the Fitzwilliam Museum and Peterhouse Library at Cambridge. The words of several of his compositions are quoted in Mr. A. H. Bullen's 'Lyrics from the Song-books of the Elizabethan Age' and 'More Lyrics.'

[Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 367, iv. 720; Brown's Biog. Dict. of Music, p. 434; Fetis's Biog. Univ. des Musiciens, vi. 205; Alumni Oxonienses, p. 1034; State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1598; Hawkins's Hist, of Music, p. 494; Harmonicon for 1826, p. 209; Burney's General Hist, of Music, iii. 101; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iii. 10, 6th ser. viii. 408,503; Catalogues of Music at Christ Church, Oxford Music School, Peterhouse Coll. Cambridge, and Fitzwilliam Museum; Brit. Mus. Catalogues.]

R. F. S.