Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 - 1594)

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina -- quite a mouthful. Actually, the composer was born in the town of Palestrina (not far from Rome); hence, "da" or from Palestrina. In his home town, he would have been known as Giovanni Pierluigi, but to the rest of the world, he was simply Palestrina.

He was arguably the most outstanding composer of his time and the leading musician of the Counter-Reformation. He composed about 104 masses, more than anyone else in the history of music, and almost half of which were published in his lifetime.

He also composed more than 300 motets, as well as numerous hymns and several settings of the Magnificat and the Lamentations of Jeremiah. His first book of masses was published in 1554 and was dedicated to Pope Julius III, who rewarded Palestrina by appointing him to the Sistine Chapel, the Pope's personal chapel. Famously, Palestrina composed the Missa Papae Marcelli to commemorate the reign of another pope, Pope Marcellus II, who, however, reigned for only 3 weeks in April 1555.

I played the Missa Papae Marcelli performed by the Tallis Scholars on my regular show on Sunday morning, Classical Sunrise (6 to 9 AM).

Today, I'll be hosting "Portrait of the Artist" from 5 to 7 PM, with Palestrina as the featured artist.

To whet your appetite, here's the Gloria from that work, performed by the Oxford Camerata, directed by Jeremy Summerly.


  1. Hi thanks so much for offering this background and lovely music. And I remember the "rules of Palestrina" in counterpoint classes.

  2. Beautiful. Had to content myself with the Gloria you posted as I'll be asleep when your show comes on.

  3. Sandy:

    Don't settle for half a loaf! You can listen to the show anytime you like for the next two weeks at our tape vault.