Saturday, November 10, 2007

1560 – 1595 Palestrina and Lasso

1558-1603 Elizabeth I, England
1562-98 Religious conflicts in France
1588 English defeat of the Spanish Armada
1594 Death of Palestrina and Lasso

Vocal Music


The Council of Trent (1545-1563), which also banned tropes and most sequences, in the spirit of the Counter Reformation criticized the secular spirit of church music such as the use of secular cantus firmus and the chanson mass. In response the serious, cool style of the Roman school arose. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-94) wrote 105 mass cycles using all the established techniques of composition, including 52 parody masses and 35 paraphrase masses. Traits of his style were:

(a) modal melody with little use of chromaticism,
(b) rigid control of dissonance,
(c) simple progressions and harmonies,
(d) cool, controlled expression,
(e) limited rhythmic variety, and
(f) alternation of imitative and chordal textures.
An example was Missa Papae Marcelli. Other composers were Orlando di Lasso (1532-94) with 53 masses, Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), the Spaniard, with 20 masses and Jacobus de Kerle (1532-1591).


Five-voice texture with homophonic sections and imitative sections was the prevailing style. Palestrina was cool; Lasso showed impulsive expression. Jacob Handl (1550-91) fused Netherlands and Venetian style. Others were Giovanni Maria Nanino (c.1545-1607), Philippe de Monte (1521-1903), Marc' Antonio Ingegneri (c. 1545-92, Monteverdi's teacher at Cremona) and Victoria.

Magnificat, Passion, Lamentations

These are by Lasso and Palestrina.


The Congregazione dell'Oratorio founded by Filippo Neri (1515-95) had services of a popular character, including laude, composed by Giovanni Animuccia (c.1500-71) and Palestrina. "Dialogue laude" in which three or four groups of singers took the roles of God, the soul, heaven, etc. were forerunners of the oratorio.


The classic madrigal after the style established by de Rore was composed to modern poetry by Philippe de Monte, Giaches de Wert (1535-96), Lasso and Palestrina, who preferred spiritual madrigals. Collections were Le Gioie (1589) and Il Trionfo di dori (1592).

Canzonetta and balletto

From c. 1580 canzonetta and balletto were important lighter homophonic forms, clearly in major and minor with "fa-la-la" refrains by Giacomo Gastoldi (d. 1622).

Protestant church music

Tunes of the Geneva Psalter were set polyphonically by Claude Goudimel (c.1505-72) in 1564 and later by Claude Le Jeune (1528-1600). A German collection in this style was Fünfzig geistliche Lieder und Psalmen (1586) by Lucas Osiander (1523-1604). In England William Byrd (1543-1623) composed both protestant and catholic music.


The three styles were:

(1) Parisian chanson included short points of imitation as composed by Lasso, Le Jeune and William Costeley (1531-1606);
(2) Air de cour was strophic, completely homophonic and had an irregular rhythm, and
(3) Vers mesurée, from 1567, was an academic exercise which matched long syllables to half notes and short syllables to quarter notes, by Jacques Mauduit (1557-1627) and Le Jeune.


The Lied was like the madrigal, by Lasso.

Instrumental Music


Improvised ornamentation was an important feature of the Venetian school which maintained leadership.

(1) Toccata, with early free compositions by Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1520-86), was established by Claudio Merulo (1533-1604) as free idiomatic sections alternating with fugal sections: T-F-T or T-F-T-F-T.
(2) Ricercar, one to three themes were given slow, serious contrapuntal treatment by A. Gabrieli and Merulo.
(3) Fantasia was a free mixture of imitation and figuration by A. Gabrieli.
(4) Canzona, A. Gabrieli and Merulo.

English Virginalists

Mulliner Book (c.1560) compiled by Thomas Mulliner, included works for virginal, organ and lute, including an In nomine, similar to a ricercar on a c.f. by Taverner.

Ensemble canzona

Lively and strongly rhythmical contrapuntal sections, opening, were by A. Gabrieli and Maschera.

Dance music

For lute, keyboard or ensemble, it was especially important in France: Circe or Ballet comique de la Reine (1581) was the first ballet de cour, a dramatic entertainment which included airs de cour. Orchesograhie (1589) by Thoinot-Arbeau (1519-1595) was a manual on French dances. A common dance type was the branle.


De Rore's Madrigali (1577) led a gradual return to score arrangement. At the end of the century bar lines and round note heads gradually became common, and ligatures and triple mensuration (the division of a note into three of the next smaller value) died out.

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