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Born in Ireland, he is said to have been a large and powerfully built man, and an excellent boxer. Always cheerful and in excellent spirits, he was a general favourite. He received his education at St. Gall's, from Iso and the Irishman Moengall, teachers in the monastic school. He was the friend of Notker of St. Gall, with whom he studied music under Moengal. Educated at the Abbey of St. Gall, he remained to become a monk there.
Tuotilo was a good speaker, had a fine musical voice, was a capital carver in wood, and an accomplished illuminator. Like most of the earlier monks of St. Gallen, he was a clever musician, equally skilful with the trumpet and the harp. Nor is this all. Besides being teacher of music in the upper school to the sons of the nobility, he was classical tutor, and could preach both in Latin and Greek. His chief accomplishments, however, were music and painting, and on these his reputation mainly rests. He composed songs, which, like an Irish bard, he sang to the harp—the popular instrument of this Irish foundation. Being thus accomplished, he was much in request, and by the permission of his abbot travelled to distant places. One of his celebrated sculptures was the image of the Blessed Virgin for the cathedral at Metz, said to be quite a masterpiece. He was even a mathematician and astronomer, and constructed an astrolabe or orrery, which showed the courses of the planets.
Tuotilo played several instruments, including the harp. The history of the ecclesiastical drama begins with the trope sung as Introit of the Mass on Easter Sunday. It has come down to us in a St. Gallen manuscript dating from the time of Tuotilo.
Most of his compositions have been lost.
James Midgley Clark points out that the most interesting items at the St Gall Abbey in Switzerland are the ivory tablets attributed to Tuotilo which form the cover of the Evangelium Longum. Tuotilo's paintings can be found at Konstanz, Metz, Saint-Gall, and Mainz.
Tuotilo was buried at a chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine in St. Gall, which was later renamed for him. His feast day is celebrated on March 28.
- Music and musicians in medieval Irish society, Ann Buckley, pp. 165–190, Early Music xxviii, no.2, May 2000
- Music in Prehistoric and Medieval Ireland, Ann Buckley, pp. 744–813, in A New History of Ireland, volume one, Oxford, 2005