As is the case with many Portuguese composers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, those whose musical careers were mostly developed in ecclesiastical institutions of lesser importance, when compared to the great cathedrals and monastic and conventual houses, are frequently almost unknown with scarce information circulating besides a name, dates of birth and death (sometimes not even these dates are …

The 17th century Portuguese composer Henrique de Faria ❧ read more »

The composer Gregorio Allegri is best known for his Miserere and all the tradition around the Papal chapel during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Besides this wider-known composition, it is not an easy task to list other works by Allegri. The composer was born in Rome sometime during 1582. Together with his brother Domenico, he was a choirboy from 1591 …

The Missa Salvatorem exspectamus by Gregorio Allegri ❧ 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 »

The city of Évora, Alentejo, Portugal, is known for its musical history regarding the great Portuguese masters of polyphony of the first half of the seventeenth century. Names like Fr. Manuel Cardoso, Duarte Lobo, Filipe de Magalhães are known throughout the world as leading figures with biographical and professional relations with Évora Cathedral.

In 1626 the Portuguese theorist Antonio Fernandes dedicated his Arte de Musica to his former master Duarte Lobo praising him as one of the most illustrious Portuguese masters. Duarte Lobo is included in the trio of Portuguese composers (the other two being Fr. Manuel Cardoso and Filipe de Magalhães) with an impressive body of music compositions during the Portuguese golden …

The Magnificat Quarti Toni by Duarte Lobo ❧ 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.