Philips, Peter

Peter Philips is regarded by the people of the Low Countries as one of their important composers, but he was British, and a gifted virginalist, which provided him a living by teaching children. He was a choir boy around 1574 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, but moved to the continent (Douai) after the death of his guardian Sebastian Westcote, the almoner of St. Paul’s. After Douai he made his way to Rome, where he became part of the household of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, combining this work with his appointment as organist at the English College in Rome. Here he came undoubtedly under the influence of maestro Felice Anerio.
In 1593 Philips travelled to Amsterdam, to meet Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, his famous fellow keyboard player and composer, with whom he remained friends. After his wife’s death however, Philips took holy orders. (Maybe this enlarged his chances to obtain a canonry which he obtained in 1610.) After taking orders he seems to have limited himself to religious music. His Masses and psalms have not survived, but his motets show that there is considerable basis for calling him a composer from the Netherlands.