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Peter Philips

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(Also known as PETRUS PHILIPPUS, PIETRO PHILLIPO.)

Born in England about 1560; date and place of death unknown. It is generally accepted that Philips, remaining faithful to the Church, left England for the Netherlands, whence he went to Rome, and afterwards, returning to Antwerp, became organist at the court of the governor, Duke Albert. Having entered Holy orders, he held a canonry at Bethune, in Flanders, which he exchanged for a similar honour at Soignes in 1612. It has been pointed out that the title-pages of his published works are the best index to his movements and abiding places, and they are various. Philips ranks in importance as a musician with Tallys, Byrd, Morley, and Orlando Gibbons, and is considered one of the great masters of his time. Besides canzoni and madrigals for six and eight voices, he left innumerable instrumental works which have been preserved in the libraries of Antwerp, Leyden, Strasburg, and London. Nineteen of these are contained in "The Fitz-William Virginal Book" by J. A. Fuller- Maitland and W. B. Squire. To the Church, however, Philips devoted his best efforts. Besides single numbers found in various collections of his period, a volume of five-part motets ; another of similar works for eight voices; "Gemmulae sacrae" for two and three voices and figured bass; "Les rossignols spirituels", a collection of two- and four-part pieces, some to Latin words, but most of them to French; "Deliciae sacrae", forty-one compositions for two and three parts, are preserved in the British Museum. The library of John IV of Portugal contains Philips's posthumous works -- masses for six, eight, and nine voices, and motets for eight voices. His "Cantiones sacrae" have recently been made available for modern use, and have been added to the repertoire of the choir of Westminster Cathedral.


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