Thomas Tallis and his Music in Victorian England

Thomas Tallis and his Music in Victorian England

Suzanne Cole


Boydell Press



A survey of the huge importance of Thomas Tallis, the `Father of Church Music', on Victorian musical life.
In Victorian England, Tallis was ever-present: in performances of his music, in accounts of his biography, and through his representation in physical monuments. Known in the nineteenth century as the 'Father of English Church Music', Tallis occupies a central position in the history of the music of the Anglican Church.

This book examines in detail the reception of two works that lie at the stylistic extremes of his output: Spem in alium, revived in the 1830s, though generally not greatly admired, and the Responses, which were very popular. A close study of the performances, manuscripts and editions of these works casts light on the intersections between the antiquarian, liturgical and aesthetic goals of nineteenth-century editors and musicians. By tracing Tallis's reception in nineteenth-century England, the author charts the hold Tallis had on the Victorians and the ways in which Anglican - and English - identity was defined and challenged.

Dr SUE COLE is a research associate at the Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne.


June 2008
8 black and white illustrations
232 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Music in Britain, 1600-2000
ISBN: 9781843833802
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

`It is here that we must look for Tallis': Tallis's music
`Such a man as Tallis': Tallis the man
`This Mistake of a Barbarous Age': Spem in alium
`A Solid Rock of Harmony': The Preces and Responses
`The Englishman's Harmony': Tallis and national identity


Cole has provided a useful and innovative model for further approaches to the study of earlier music. This book is thus to be recommended not only to admirers of Tallis, but to all with an interest in the history of English music. FONTES AR TIS MUSICAE

(Cole) pursues an intriguing trail (...). Students of Tudor church music will find much scholarly detail in Cole's vignettes. Anyone with an interest in the Victorians will enjoy learning about this interaction of national, religious and cultural identity, and glimpse the sense of adventure that some of them felt in the quest for musical treasure from England's glorious past. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

This book is a cause for rejoicing.Cole's central narrative (is) compelling.a tremendously important, stimulating book which reconfigures one's sense of the English musical landscape and it should spark new directions in Tallis scholarship. EARLY MUSIC

A valuable addition to the small body of literature on Tallis. CHURCH MUSIC QUARTERLY

I recommend (Cole's) contribution to the available literature on Tallis wholeheartedly. MUSICAL TIMES (Peter Phillips)

The arguments raised in this book are complex...yet Cole sets them out clearly and cogently. She has a knack for untangling complicated issues...this book is a pleasure to read. MUSICOLOGY AUSTRALIA

A fascinating, scholarly study which causes the reader to challenge his or her own received much a great read as it is a learned book, and I cannot praise author or publisher highly enough for its timely publication. CHOMBEC News

Exceptional in its care, comprehensiveness and logic. Insofar as reception history is a matter of uncovering the cultural politics that shaped the musical values we have inherited, it is difficult to imagine a job better done. JOURNAL OF VICTORIAN CULTURE

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