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Progressive trumps retrogressive

As the Battle of Britain begins, Tallis takes on Walton.

William Walton
William Walton

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.

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William Walton
William Walton

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.

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Comments
5

Tallis could be considered the beginning of English music, if you are ignorant of the English music before him.

When calling Walton retrogressive, critics meant old fashioned. Music from the 1940's is all old fashioned now, we can choose for ourselves which old fashioned music we like. But when critics said they had heard it before, it's because they weren't ignorant of the music before Walton. Keep listening and be more careful.

Aug. 27, 2013

Psycholizard we're all impressed to know that there was music before Thomas Tallis. Regarding retrogressive, I know it means old fashioned. Why are you calling me ignorant and admonishing me to be more careful? I refuse to make my classical music writing a boring masturbatory exercise. This is not a music journal.

You see, nobody reads the music journal with the article by the desperate doctoral candidate proclaiming the abundance of English masters before Thomas Tallis.

If you're going to offer unsolicited advice--which is always in poor taste--and attempt to place yourself in a position of superior knowledge to the author--which could be true on this one subject--at least sign your name.

Sept. 24, 2013

Psycholizard is my stage name, I play rock and roll, I have a degree in Music History. I also write music in more academic styles. One can click the Icon at the left to find my legal name. I have some credentials, as well as street cred, I show them at your request.

As for my statements, I thought them self evident, Tallis didn't spring out of nowhere, his style is complex elaboration of earlier styles, I'm still puzzled by why anyone would find him the beginning of anything, most find him more of a dead end. As for Walton, if they thought him old fashioned seventy years ago, don't disrespect their opinion.

If you love these fine composers, I respect your opinion, but never imply that others don't exist. As you will find elsewhere in the reader blogs, I defend those I believe maligned.

Sept. 30, 2013

To the artist known as Psycholizard, you're missing the point here. If you want to quibble over the development of Thomas Tallis' style and whether or not he was progressive in the style of polyphony, I concede, you win because I don't care. What I care about is writing something about classical music that is at least a little bit interesting. That is the point.

I'm still baffled by your ability to reprimand me for disrespecting music critics from 70 years ago. Where in the world is that coming from? What exactly have I written that disrespects the fact that critics thought Walton to be retrogressive and Walton didn't care. I don't have a horse in that race.

I also don't understand how I'm implying that other composers don't exist, except the ones I love, when I'm doing an enormous series of articles on dozens of different composers.

When it comes to Walton and Tallis, I'm not a big fan of either of them but it is my opinion that Tallis was the greater composer. That's the point of this post. Tallis > Walton. If you don't believe Tallis is greater than Walton that's fine, I won't ague with you. You appear to simply have a problem with the way I've portrayed both composers. I'm not sure anything I've written about them is untrue. It is certainly not as refined as you'd like but you're going to have to deal with that. Online attention spans for this type of subject are limited. Broad stokes psycholizard.

Oct. 7, 2013

I commend you for bringing attention to some neglected composers. I'm puzzled by the contest between wine and whiskey. Tastes vary, but prove nothing. It's difficult to make classical music interesting to the general public, your format is unusual, but it's not wrong to try something new.

Oct. 20, 2013

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