Thomas Tallis versus William Walton.
Thomas Tallis could be considered the beginning of British music. As I mentioned previously Tallis was able to keep his head on his shoulders during the reigns of Henry VIII, Bloody Mary, and Queen Elizabeth I.
He stayed in the good graces of these monarchs as England struggled through religious upheaval for decades.
Tallis has become popular recently due to his inclusion in the sexy 50 Shades of Grey books.
William Walton was considered, at one point, to be the voice of British music after Elgar’s death. Walton was asked to write a march in Elgar’s honor and was immediately labeled by critics as “retrogressive.”
At the time, being “retro” was a bad thing. Composers always want to be thought of as progressive but Walton appeared to be content with this label and continued writing music that audiences like. How dare he?
During World War II Walton was spared military service in exchange for writing propaganda music. This eventually led to Walton composing several film scores including The Battle of Britain.
Tallis was progressive in his career. Albeit he had some collusion working for him. Queen Elizabeth granted Tallis and William Byrd a 21 year monopoly on polyphony and also granted them a patent on printing music.
When you and your buddy are the only ones allowed to print the “new music” then, by default, you’re progressive.
The element that pushes Tallis past Walton is the fact that he has a feast day in his honor in the Episcopal Church every November 21st.