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Christopher Tye

(c.1505 - 1573)

Tye was an English organist and composer of choral and instrumental music. Apparently a native of East Anglia, Tye received a doctorate in Music from Cambridge in 1537 and was later associated with the Priory of Ely. Tye was a contemporary of Thomas Tallis, and contributed to the assimilation of continental structural principles into English music during the first half of the sixteenth century. Rather little survives of his sacred choral music, but what does remain represents an interesting personal synthesis of the older English florid style and the techniques of structural imitation and syllabic text setting. Tye's sparing use of imitation and the general absence of soloist passages gives his music a tighter cohesiveness than that of the previous generation – his Mass "Euge Bone" is perhaps the most impressive example of the period.

Today, Tye is at least as well known as a composer of instrumental ensemble music for viol consort. He left thirty-one such compositions, apparently composed late in his life. These include twenty-one settings of the "In Nomine" type – based on John Taverner's cantus firmus and incorporating all manner of instrumental ideas within a purely polyphonic context. Tye is credited as the first significant composer of instrumental chamber music, and his examples are of uniformly high quality. They represent a substantial legacy for Western music. ~ Todd McComb (6/94)

Recommended Recordings

Sacred Choral Music

Cathedral Music/Hyperion 66424
David Hill/Choir of Winchester Cathedral

Consort Music

Consort Musicke set for viols/Astrée E 8708
Jordi Savall/Hespèrion XX