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…

Philippe Verdelot (±1480-±1530): Ultimi miei sospiri

Perhaps because a collection of his madrigals was the first ever printed Philippe Verdelot is considered by some as the inventor of the madrigal. I’m not sure I’d go quite that far but  he was certainly the early 16th century’s  most important and innovative composer of Italian madrigals. He was born in France but his…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Missa Pange Lingua

Josquin’s Mass setting Missa Pange Lingua is based upon the melody of Pange Lingua, Aquinas’s adaptation of Venantius Fortunatus’ hymn for Corpus Christi. It’s a remarkable piece of music, composed when Josquin was at the height of his power. It’s both a cantus firmus Mass and a paraphrase setting, cantus firmus because Josquin uses the…

Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559): Aspice Domine

Jacques Colebault or Jacquet de Mantua as he became known was a prolific French composer who spent most of his life in Italy serving the Church. Musically he’s important first as one of the leading composers in the period between Josquin and Palestrina and secondly because he was enormously influential. Amongst his patrons were the…

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Exsultate Deo

This is one of my favourites amongst Palestrina’s motets. It’s a five-part setting (SAATB) of the first three verses of Psalm 81. It’s  a bright celebratory piece of music full of word-painting to depict the musical instruments mentioned in the text. Whenever people try to tell me that Palestrina’s music is dull, cold, and lifeless,…

William Cornysh The Elder (d. 1502): Ave Maria, Mater Dei

It used to be thought that this beautiful Marian motet was by William Cornysh the younger but following some research by David Skinner published in 1997 it’s now thought to be by his father William Cornysh the elder. 1. By Cornysh the elder’s standards it’s a relatively uncomplicated and undemanding piece. There isn’t the vast…