Two mid-16th-century Cecilian parody masses

When speaking of Cecilian music, one generally has the idea of the nineteenth-century movement, mostly centred in Germany, that pushed a reformation of Catholic church music, aiming to restore a more traditional religious feeling and the authority of the church in regard to the sacred music repertoire. This movement of the 1800s was in great part inspired by the fifteenth-century Congregazioni Ceciliani (Gmeinwieser, 2001). This meant that in the fifteenth century there were already movements of composers and musicians in praised of the Saint (whose feast is celebrated 22 November), and there are several references to festival celebrations of her feast day throughout several European regions which also prompted the foundation of associations to that end. One of these association was established in 1570 at Evreux (Normandy) – Le Puy de musique – which celebrated the Saint’s Day with several liturgical performances followed by a banquet after the mass and prizes would be awarded for the best motets, songs, airs and sonnets composed for the occasion (Husk, 2001).

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The motet Ad te levavi animam meam by Palestrina

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina died on 2 February 1594. Several months earlier, a collection of 68 motets was published. Although it appeared at the end of 1593 it is generally thought that these motets were composed over a period of years. Many have interpreted this publication as a summation of Palestrina’s life’s work. It was the last of the many publications that appeared during his lifetime.

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A biographical note on the composer António de Oliveira

Not much is known about the Portuguese composer António de Oliveira, besides that he was active in the last decades of the sixteenth century. Much of what is known about him comes from the short entry of Diogo Barbosa Machado’s Bibliotheca Lusitana and must be interpreted as accurate as the period in which the author gathered his information.

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