As many early modern cities did, so did Évora have its areas where certain trades were concentrated, arranged throughout specific streets our squares. As we still see today in many of Évora’s buildings the ground floor of most of them in the nowadays historical centre streets were shops where goods were sold, or services were provided to the city’s inhabitants …

Artists living at Porta Nova of Évora in the 16th century ❧ read more »

The Church of Santo Antão (dedicated to St Anthony, Abbot) was one of the main construction projects of the Cardinal D. Henrique during his government as Archbishop of Évora. During Medieval times it is referenced as the Church of Santo Antoninho in the city’s main square, annexed to the hospital and lodging facilities in charge of the Order of the …

Organ activity in the Church of Santo Antão, Évora, in the 1570s ❧ read more »

To write about musicians, composers, or even chapel masters in Évora during the sixteenth century frequently represents a challenge, to say the least, due to the scarcity of sources and accounts regarding their professional careers or their own biographies. The case of the singer, composer, and master Francisco Velez is no exception being part of a group of musicians of …

Francisco Velez, a musician in sixteenth century Évora ❧ read more »

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 …

Two mid-16th-century Cecilian parody masses ❧ read more »

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 …

The motet Ad te levavi animam meam by Palestrina ❧ read more »

Flemish composer and singer Cornelis Verdonck was born in Turnhout sometime during the year 1563 and died in Antwerp on 5 July 1625. He was a choirboy at Antwerp Cathedral and in 1572 was enrolled as a singer at the court of Felipe II of Spain being colleague to other singers of Flemish origin such as Peeter Cornet and Philippe …

The motet Ave gratia plena by Cornelis Verdonck ❧ read more »

Many sixteenth and seventeenth-century composers have set the text O Magnum mysterium with wonderful polyphonic results, such as Willaert, Gabrieli, Palestrina, Victoria, and, Morales only to name a few. In Portugal during this period we find at least three settings of this text – all as responsories – by Pedro de Cristo, Duarte Lobo and Estêvão Lopes Morago respectively, being …

The motet O magnum mysterium by Cristóbal de Morales ❧ read more »

Francesco Soriano is one of the cases where composers of the same generation become lesser known than the popular composers of the time, and the last decades of the sixteenth century were a great time to be forgotten from the mainstream Music History books. It was the case in Italy during Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s or in Spain during Victoria’s …

Two Magnificat Settings by Francesco Soriano ❧ read more »

Palestrina is most certainly the sixteenth-century composer who printed almost all of his music production. The fact that his career developed in Rome, centre of the Catholic world and of important figures of the Church, contributed considerable for the numerous books of masses, motets, hymns, lamentations among many other works that make the volume of his music production.

I have always been a fan of small-scale polyphonic works. In the case of Portuguese sixteenth and seventeenth-century polyphony, I have always included brief works, mostly the Jesu Redemptor settings, in concert programmes and recordings. These works are often forgotten from concert programmes due to their small scale length. One of these cases is Tomás Luis de Victoria’s In manus tuas.