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Morley, Thomas

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare
Jeremy BarlowJeremy Barlow

Morley, Thomas (c. 1557–1602), 

composer. He studied with William Byrd and became a proponent, publisher, and imitator of the new Italian madrigal style (which Byrd did not care for). His treatise A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music (1597) is an important historical source on many aspects of music-making in Shakespeare's time.

Much speculation, based on little evidence, has taken place over the extent of Morley's collaboration and possible friendship with Shakespeare. The two have been linked through the composer's setting of ‘It was a lover and his lass’, and also, incorrectly, through the song ‘O mistress mine’, which Morley did not compose, but arranged instrumentally in his First Book of Consort Lessons (1599) for mixed consort (see broken music).

Jeremy Barlow