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Thread: Peter Phillips (1560 - 1628)

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    Default Peter Phillips (1560 - 1628)



    Details of his early life are scanty. We know that Philips was a choirboy at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 1574, serving under Sebastian Westcott, who had possibly trained William Byrd 20 years earlier, and certainly had trained Byrd's two brothers. Westcott, a Catholic, had flourished under Queen Mary but had a troubled time under Queen Elizabeth. Westcott may have been one of those who encouraged Byrd to become a Catholic and he certainly influenced Phillips. There is a letter of 1609 by Louis de Groote suggesting that Byrd had also taught Phillips. (Smith, Musica Britannica, v. 75, xxiii) Byrd had certainly taught others who would feature in Phillip's life including John Bull. After Westcott's death in 1582 Phillips left London, possibly aided by a legacy from Westcott.

    He went to the English Catholic College at Douai where he met Francis Tregian, the possible scribe of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Some twenty five years later, many of Philips’ known keyboard compositions were included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Phillipsthen went to Rome where he was organist to the Jesuit College from 1582 - 1585 and also in the service of Cardinal Farnese.

    In 1585, Phillips took service with Thomas Lord Paget. Paget, who worked for Philip II of Spain. Phillips travelled to Spain, France, Italy and the Low Countries until Paget’s death in Brussels in 1590. Phillips then moved to Antwerp where in 1591 he published his first set of Italian madrigals, Melodia Olympia, and married. His wife died in 1592, a month after giving birth and his daughter, looked after by the maternal grandmother, died in 1597. Phillips never remarried. He eked out a precarious living teaching virginal playing. In 1593, he went to Amsterdam to see Sweelinck and then on to Antwerp where he published a second edition of Melodia Olympia (1594) and, in 1596, the Primo Libro de Madrigali a sei voci.

    In 1597 Philips moved to Brussels, entering the service of Archduke Albert, Governor General of the Low Countries. In 1599, Albert married Isabella of Spain, daughter of Phillip II, at which point Philips was given the title Organist to their Serene Highnesses the Archduke Albert and Isabella. He held this post until his death in 1628. He may also have renewed his acquaintance with Francis Tregian who had gone to Brussels in 1594 and may have had some position at the court.

    Phillips published two more books of madrigals the Madrigali a Otto Voci in 1598, and his second and final collection of madrigals, the Secondo Libro de Madrigali a sei voci in 1603.

    Phillips published nothing between 1603 and 1609 when he was ordained. It is believed that he was studying for the priesthood at the time.He obtained a canonry in 1610. After 1609, he only published sacred works the Cantiones Sacrae for Five Voices (1611), Cantiones Sacrae for Eight Voices (1613), Gemmulae Sacrae (1613), Les Rossignols Spirituels (published in Valencia, 1616), and the Delitiae Sacrae (1616). He died in Brussels in 1628 at the age of 67. Nothing is known of the circumstances of his death, nor is there any documentation of the funeral or place of burial.

    Philips was important in bringing the English musical style to the Continent and he was probably the most famous English composer of his day in Northern Europe. He was widely travelled and had experience of a range of continental styles. His madrigals (secular vocal music) belong to a conservative Italian tradition, probably thanks to his training in Rome. He uses colourful textures and sonorities, although his instrumental motets show him keeping up with the latest trends and styles. His keyboard music includes transcriptions and reworking of well-known Italian madrigals. Like Flemish composer Orlando Lassus (1532-1594), he often imitated a rhythmic pattern or a melodic contour throughout a piece.


    Sources consulted

    THE KEYBOARD MUSIC OF PETER PHILIPS-Bradley J. Bennight, B.M., M.M.

    Wiki
    Melanie Spiller and Coloratura Consulting
    HOASM
    Last edited by Taggart; Oct-26-2018 at 16:07.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    When Lord Paget died, Phillips wrote a pavan in his memory



    Here's a Salve Regina from the Cantiones Sacrae pro quinis vocibus



    Here's Pavan LXXXV



    The use of a Rucker's type virginal is interesting as most of Philips’ music for keyboard instruments was composed after his arrival in Antwerp, the Ruckers family home. Likewise, most of Philips’ works were published by the Phalèse firm which was located in Antwerp and sold locally, presumably, to those who often owned instruments of the Ruckers family.
    Last edited by Taggart; Oct-26-2018 at 15:42.
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    I was interested to read that he worked as an organist in Rome. The only time I can recall hearing his music played on organ is by Siegbert Rampe. One of the Fantasies (Track 1 of CD 2) is pretty good I think.

    Rampe plays a piece by Philips which is a really beautiful piece of music, called the Pavana Anglica. I can't remember anyone else playing it.

    There are some really nice recordings of the keyboard music to explore apart from Rampe - Anneke Uittenbosch and Emer Buckley are both great favourites of mine, and Belder in the Fitzwilliam series is good too, it's just a while since I heard it. Noone beats Rampe on clavichord though! As usual!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-27-2018 at 23:12.

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