PETER PHILIPS (1561 - 1628)
The composer Peter Philips (1561–1628) stands with William Byrd as one of the great religious composers of the Counter Reformation, although he worked exclusively abroad and not in England himself. Philips is first heard of as a choirboy at St Paul’s in London. In 1582 he fled from England because of his Catholic faith. Initially he went to the English College at Douai, and from there to the English College in Rome, which at this time provided refuge for a number of religious exiles. He remained here for three years, and was appointed organist. As both Palestrina and Anerio were active in Rome at this time, he became thoroughly conversant with the riches of late sixteenth-century Roman polyphony. From 1585 he travelled across Europe with another English Catholic Sir Thomas Paget. After Paget’s death in 1590 Philips settled in Antwerp, where he supported himself by giving keyboard lessons. In 1597 he joined the household of the regent of the Spanish Netherlands, Archduke Albert, where he spent the rest of his life, dying in 1628.