Jacquet of Mantua (1483-1559): Ave Maria

Jacquet of Mantua was born Jacques Colebault in Vitré, Brittany, in 148 he’s referred to as Jacquet of Mantua to distinguish him from another composer Jacquet de Berchem. He was yet another northerner who went south to Italy where he worked for a variety of patrons amongst the Rangoni of Modena, the Estes, until in…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Virgo salutiferi

In 1503 Duke Ercole I of Ferrara overruled his advisers and employed Josquin as maestro di cappella they’d advised him to hire Heinrich Isaac instead of Josquin because he was easier to get on with, was more companionable, far less inclined to make a fuss about composing on demand, and last but by no means…

Feature: Alessandro Grandi (±1586 – 1630): Salve Regina

This wonderful setting of the Salve is a particularly fine example of what a talented composer does when confronted with artistic restrictions. Grandi was one of those composers who flourished in Venice during Monteverdi’s time and in his shadow. He’d held posts as a maestro di capella in Ferrara, and had previously sung and studied…

Robert White (±1538-1574): Tota pulchra es

When Robert White died at the age of thirty six during one of the many outbreaks of plague that London was subject to at the time Robert Dow made a copy of all his motets and added this epitaph ‘Greatest glory of our muses, White: you perish, but your muse remains for ever’ nor was…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Magnificat Regale

Shortly after he was crowned Henry VIII made clear that Fayrfax stood high in his favour by awarding him the sum of £9 2/6 (nine pounds two shillings and six pence) to be paid on top of Fayrfax’s salary from the Chapel Royal. We don’t know when Fayrfax composed this setting of the Magnificat to…

Franchino Gaffurio (1451 – 1522): Salve Regina

Gaffurio is now remembered as a scholar and a theoretician rather than as a composer. He was very influential during his lifetime and for about a century after. He stands out as an Italian at a time when the choirs and musical ensembles of the courts, colleges, and cathedrals were dominated by composers from the…

David Bevan (b1951): Magnificat quarti toni

David Bevan was born in 1951 as a schoolboy he was educated at Westminster Cathedral Choir School and Downside. He won an open scholarship to The Queen’s College, Oxford, and has held various teaching posts , including Assistant Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, and has been Director of Music at the Church of Our…

Alonso Lobo (1555-1617): Ave Maria

Lobo’s eight-part setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Maria is one of seven motets that he published in 1602 while employed at Toledo Cathedral. It’s an astounding piece of music that’s based on a scheme of complex 8-in-4 canonical writing in which the lower voices of two SATB choirs sing the same music but the…

Cristóbal de Morales (±1500 –1553): Regina caeli

Like most of his Cristóbal de Morales’ motets his setting of the Marian antiphon Regina caeli  is a five-part setting. It probably dates from fairly late on in his career and in one way is fairly conventional in that it quotes the chant fairly heavily. Conventional? I’d prefer to say that it’s a great example…

Stephen Paulus (1949 – 2014): Splendid Jewel

This is Paulus’ setting of ‘Splendid Jewel’ a fourteenth-century lauda found in the Florence Laudario. Laude were songs in praise of God (laudes Domini) written in vernacular Italian  and performed by Franciscan priests and other mendicant preachers in line with St Francis of Assisi’s instruction to his followers to preach and to sing God’s praises…

Peter Philips (1560-1628): Ave Regina cælorum

Peter Philips’ setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Regina cælorum (Hail, Queen of heaven) was published in his Cantiones Sacræ of 1612. It’s a five-part (SSATB) setting very much in the new Roman style. The five-voice structure meant that he could vary the texture at will to reflect words or phrases in his text coupled…

Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612): Dixit Maria

Hassler studied under Andrea Gabrieli in Venice before returning to Germany moved from post to post into ever increasingly lucrative sinecures (you’ll find more biographical information about him my posting about him written on March 28th 2015 which you can find here: Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612): Ad Dominum | Saturday Chorale – mfi). Dixit Maria…