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Morley was born in Norwich, in East England, the son of a brewer. Most likely he was a singer in the local cathedral from his boyhood, and he became master of choristers there in 1583. However, Morley obviously spent some time away from East England, for he later referred to the great Elizabethan composer of sacred music, William Byrd, as his teacher; while the dates he studied with Byrd are not known, they were most likely in the early 1570s. In 1588 he received his bachelor's degree from Oxford, and shortly thereafter was employed as organist at St. Paul's in London. His young son died the following year in 1589. In addition to his madrigals, Morley wrote instrumental music, including keyboard music (some of which has been preserved in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book), and music for the broken consort, a uniquely English ensemble of two viols, flute, lute, cittern and bandora, notably as published by William Barley in 1599 in The First Booke of Consort Lessons, made by diuers exquisite Authors, for six Instruments to play together, the Treble Lute, the Bandora, the Cittern, the Base-Violl, the Flute amp; Treble-Violl. In this all Danish cast with the Ensemble Amarillis, we hear a beautiful cast in seldom heard music from the time of William Byrd.