About the Music
Thomas Morley was the son of a brewer in Norwich, England. Morley got a degree from Oxford, studied composition with William Byrd, and had a post as organist at St. Paul’s in London. “Alman” was written around 1597. It was first published in Morley’s Easie Introduction to Practical Musicke.
“Greensleeves” was printed first in William Ballet’s Lute Book in 1580 and registered as “A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves.” Although the composer of the tune is unknown, the tune itself was already quite popular by the Elizabethan period. It has been arranged and adapted by numerous composers since that time, including Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaugh Williams.
“Wolsey’s Wilde” was another well-known tune of its day; the set of variations written by William Byrd dates back to around 1580. Byrd was a major music presence in sixteenth century England, foremost as composer, organist, and choirmaster, but also as a publisher of music.
All of these arrangements are based on the original tunes and settings, filled out with countermelodies and the use of harmonic variation. The additions are intended to stay in the spirit of the original music but make no claim as to true stylistic accuracy.