Musical period: Late Renaissance/Early Baroque
Style: English Madrigal School, English Virginalist School
Fun Facts: An organist and student of William Byrd, Thomas Tomkins clung to the polyphonic tradition of the Renaissance during a time when new Baroque ideas were sweeping the music scene.
Tomkins was a Royalist and composed coronation music for Charles I. He lived to see the civil war, and lost his position, church, and organ, but continued to compose for keyboard and instrumental consort.
For your listening pleasure: A heart-breaking motet by Tomkins:
Text: When David heard that Absolon was slain, he went up to his chamber over the gate, and wept: and thus he said, O my son Absolon, my son, my son Absolon! Would God I had died for thee, O Absolon, my son, my son!
Here is Tomkin’s “Sad Pavan for these Distracted Times” that he wrote after Charles I’s execution: