Whithorne, Thomas (DNB00)

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WHITHORNE, THOMAS (fl. 1590), musical amateur, published in 1571 ‘Songes of three, fower, and fiue partes, by Thomas Whythorne, gent.’ The collection consists of seventy-six pieces, mostly to devotional words, in five part-books. They were well printed by John Day, the words in black letter. There are copies at the British Museum, Bodleian, and Christ Church libraries. As was usual, Whithorne wrote both the words and music. Complimentary Latin verses, different in each of the part-books, are prefixed; and Whithorne is duly promised immortality. In 1590 he published another collection entitled ‘Duos,’ containing fifty-two pieces, some for treble and bass, some for two trebles or two cornets, and fifteen canons. It is dedicated to the Earl of Huntingdon from London; it was printed by Thomas East, and Whithorne's portrait, at the age of forty, is at the end of each part-book. The first twelve pieces are anthems; only the opening words of all the others are given.

Whithorne was an amateur with an inordinate belief in his own powers. His works are ignored in the theoretical treatises of Morley, Ravenscroft, and Campion; nor were they mentioned by any critic until Burney described the ‘Songes,’ dismissing both words and music as ‘truly barbarous.’ Rimbault, Rockstro, Husk, Davey, and Nagel all speak of them with contempt. The ‘Duos’ are less bad, but are unknown to bibliographers, and are not mentioned even in Grove's ‘Dictionary.’ In Brown and Stratton's ‘British Musical Biography’ they are absurdly entitled ‘Bassavo.’

A portrait of Whithorne, dated 1569, is in the possession of Dr. W. H. Cummings (cf. Bromley, p. 43).

[Whithorne's Works in British Museum Library; Burney's History of Music, iii. 119; Rimbault's Bibliotheca Madrigaliana, p. vii; Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ii. 191, iv. 454, 817; Davey's History of English Music, p. 138; Nagel's Geschichte der Musik in England, ii. 288.]

H. D.