Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Salve Regina

MemlingVirginandChildEnthroned De Lassus’ output was prodigious his secular works alone run to several hunded extant works while his religious music consists of about sixty Masses, one hundred magnificats, and no less than five hundred motets during his lifetime his fame and the regard in which he was held exceeded that of Palestrina.

He was born in Born in Mons, the capital of the province of Hainaut in what is now Belgium, in either 1530 or 1532. As a youth he was taken into the service of the Gonzaga family and travelled with their court between  Mantua, Sicily and Milan. He moved to Naples in 1549 where he began to compose two years later he moved to Rome to take up a position in the Antonio Altoviti Archbishop of Florence. Two years after that in 1553 he was appointed maestro di cappella at St John Lateran, Rome’s ‘city cathedral’. He started publishing his works in 1555.

In 1556 he moved to Munich to take up a prestigious (and well paid) position at the court of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria  the court and the ruling family must have thought well of him because Duke Albrecht’s son Wilhelm who succeeded to the Duchy in 1579 not only kept him on but promoted him to Kapellmeister at a time when court expenditures were being heavily retrenched. De Lassus held this post until the day he died. In 1604 ten years after his death his sons Ferdinand and Rudolph published Magnum opus musicum an almost complete edition of his works.

Since his death he’s been eclipsed by Palestrina although in recent years perhaps spurred on by the publication of all of his motets in 21 volumes and a Supplement in modern clefs and the work of the Tallis Scholars there’s an increasing level of interest in his music. His eight-part setting of the votive antiphon Salve Regina is a remarkably beautiful piece of music it’s a double-choir setting which despite the large size of the musical forces deployed manages to be both intimate and warm. De Lassus also manages to maintain the listener’s interest – something which his contemporaries didn’t always succeed in doing. It relies strongly on harmony and if as you listen you’re reminded of the Venetian composer Andrea Gabrieli’s music that’s because Gabrielli visited de Lassus in Munich in 1560 specifically to learn from him. Enjoy :-).


Text, Translation, & Score: De Lassus Salve Regina a 8

LatinModern English TranslationTraditional English Translation
Salve regina, mater misericordiae,Hail, O queen, mother of mercy,Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra salve.our life, sweetness and hope, hail.our life, our sweetness and our hope.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,To thee do we sigh, daughter of Eve,To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
ad te suspiramus gementes et flentesmourning and weepingto thee do we send up our sighs,
in hac lacrimarum valle.in this vale of tears.mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Eia ergo advocata nostraO you our advocate,Turn then, most gracious advocate,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.turn on us thy merciful eyes.thine eyes of mercy toward us;
Et Iesum benedictum fructum ventris tuiAnd after this our exile show unto us Jesus,And after this our exile, show unto us
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.the blessed fruit of thy womb.the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria.O merciful, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Score availiable from here: http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Salve_Regina_a_8_%28Orlando_di_Lasso%29

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