1st Sunday of Lent 2014: Duarte Lôbo (±1564–1646) — ¨Pater Peccavi & Missa Pro Defunctis a8

Duarte Lôbo the most famous Portuguese composer of his time was born sometime between 1564 and 1569 probably in Alcáçovas. He became a choirboy at Évora Cathedral and studied music under the celebrated Manuel Mendes at the Cathedral cloister school the Évora Claustra da Sé, his career was stellar –  maestro de capilla at Lisbon’s Hospital Real, and from about 1591 until at least 1639 he held the post of maestro de capilla at Lisbon Cathedral. He directed the Seminário de S Bartolomeu, in Lisbon, and for many years he taught music at the Lisbon Claustra da Sé where his pupils included António Fernandes, João Alvares Frouvo, Fernando de Almeida and Manuel Machado. His polyphony combines learned counterpoint with expressiveness and attention to the meaning of the text – you can can hear the influence of composers such as Ockeghem and Josquin in his use of cantus firmus and canonical techniques some of his Masses are parody Masses based on motets by Palestrina and Francisco Guerrero.

Évora Cathedral Cloisters. Lôbo started his musical career as a chorister in the Cathedral choir and student in its famous  cloister school.

Évora Cathedral Cloisters. Lôbo started his musical career as chorister in the Cathedral and student in its school.

Lôbo published two settings of the Missa pro Defunctis (Requiem) the first of which the one for eight voices that you can hear below  was published in the Liber Missarum in 1621 by Plantin. 1 It’s a beautiful piece of music  that’s very much in the Iberian tradition of spare and austere musical exequies, indeed Lôbo carries this use of very plain harmonies far further than many other composers such as for example Cardoso or de la Torre but this doesn’t mean that the music isn’t well worth your while listening to. It’s very plainness meant that Lôbo had to be quite imaginative in his treatment. You can hear this imaginativeness in his setting of Pater Peccavi thefuneral motet he appended to this setting of the Requiem it’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of music that highlights and augments the Mass setting. Enjoy :-).


Playlist:Pater Peccavi & Missa Pro Defunctis a8

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Text & Translation:  Pater Peccavi

Latin English

Pater peccavi in coelum et coram te.
Iam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus,
fac me sicut unum ex mercenariis tuis.

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;  I am no longer worthy to be called your son: make me like one of your hired men.

Mass text & Score:

Performer Information:

  • The Sixteen.
  • Harry Christophers (conductor).
  1. Lôbo was unique amongst the Évora composers in having his works published in Antwerp by Plantin which undoubtedly helped greatly in spreading his musical fame throughout Europe including to England where a copy presented in 1659 to the Bodleian library was used by Walond and Needler amongst others, and to the New World. – mfi

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