Orlando de Lassus (ca. 1532–1594)

Orlando de Lassus, with Palestrina and Victoria, irepresents the maturation of Renaissance sacred music.  He was Catholic and wrote during the Catholic counterreformation, which had a significant impact on his work.  He was a prolific composer of both sacred and secular works.  Although conservative in style, he wrote approximately 50 parody masses based not only upon secular melodies, but even some that bordered on the risqué, such as Clemens non Papa’s chanson, “Entre vous filles.”  As one could expect, his motets are more adventuresome than are his masses.

See the following for some examples of his works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIXJMKF8gYY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9ISZFBjpRw&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDghDwMhOP8&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQV9E4e5dWo&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89gNkOjZ8Dg&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr3zpCF56x8&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoGpYbqvpJk&feature=related; and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w743skBk09g&feature=related.

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1526 – 1594)

Palestrina is the best-known of Renaissance a cappella choral music composers. He was a prolific composer of more than 100 masses, 300 motets (which were on sacred texts but are not formalized as liturgy), many hymns, Magnificats, lamentations,  and a large number of madrigals, i.e., secular music.

His popular name is derived from the name of his birthplace, Palestrina. His best known mass was the Pope Marcellus Mass. There is an apocryphal story that he wrote to the mass as the Council in Trent considered whether polyphonic music, with its secular connections and polyphonic complexity distracted its congregations and should be prohibited from the churches.

You will recall that organum often had a vigorous, throaty sound. With Palestrina, polyphony became almost suave. Whereas Palestrina was using was expressive, it was not ostentatious; to the contrary, it was sublime. While abuse of polyphony and its inclusion of secular elements were considerations of the counsel in Trent, it is doubtful that it was written for that purpose. While expressive, his sacred works are not ostentatious, but rather, sublime. Whereas dissonances were almost jarring at times in its use in organum, Palestrina used it on a weak beats or passing tones which did not jar, but rather created a bit of tension which then resolved to consonance. His style is generally considered to be the culmination of Renaissance polyphonic sacred music.
He had three distinct styles of polyphony but each shares a quality of refinement.

See http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/439795/Giovanni-Pierluigi-da-Palestrina/5470/Music for an excellent Britannica Encyclopedia article concerning Palestrina.

For examples of his early Flemish style, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMRAsAkPH9g, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qTICFxan04,

For examples of his middle style, and discography of its representative work, the Missa Papae Marcelli, see http://www.answers.com/topic/palestrina-missa-papae-marcelli.
For performances of the Kyrie of that work, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIcrgNtyX0U which is performed by the Tallis Singers with views of various architectural and decorative views representative of the cathedrals of that time; and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16cH1RZcPKs with images of the score.
For the credo of that work, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A02VoJFv-jk; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M8_daKHASc.

For examples of his later style, see these performances of Stabat Mater at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoSQ4bYjRVs
and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoMs9Uyqego&feature=related

For his lamentations, see https://www.google.com/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=Lamentations+palestrina+youtube&oq=Lamentations+palestrina+youtube&gs_l=serp.12..0i8i30.37181.37181.0.41202.1.1.0.0.0.0.376.376.3-1.1.0.les%3B..0.0…1c.1.MTFo6Tl_XT8&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=2ae57bceec566c09&biw=1017&bih=444.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcWdh6ro5Ps&feature=related for Madrigali a quattro voci.

For a performance of his Vergine bella by the Vocalia Consort see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy9d5Zp3i7U

The Musical Aftermath of Henry VIII’s Divorce: Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 –1585) and William Byrd (1540–1623)

Henry VIII’s Divorce

In 1509, Henry VIII, age 18, ascended the throne of England. His interests were then, as now, the common interests of a youth: of sport, of intellectual prowess and as monarch, political clout, with soldiers and a Navy at his command.
The priest – become – Chancellor, Wolsey, had served Henry VII and likewise served Henry VIII. He recognized the moral profligacy of the English clergy, but was not above it, himself. The public, also recognized its base condition. Heresy increased. In 1506, 45 men were charged and tried for heresy; most recanted, but two were burned to death. There were many such inquisitional trials throughout England for the next 15 years. The heresies giving rise to such barbarity included the rejection of transubstantiation for consubstantiation; rejection of the intermediary role of priests to consecrate or absolve; rejection of the salvific necessity for sacraments; rejection of pilgrimages and prayers for the dead; the notion that celibacy was contrary to human nature and that priests should marry (probably as a reaction to widespread concubinage of English clergy); and even, with Luther, the notion that the Christian is saved by faith, and not by works.
In 1521 Henry VIII issued his vituperous Assertion of the Seven Sacraments against Martin Luther, which many believed was authored by Wolsey. Luther took his time to reply, but then in kind, to the “King of the Lies, King Heinz, by God’s disgrace King of England.”
We have often heard of Henry VIII’s request for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine, of denial by the Church, and of his decision to part ways with the Catholic Church because of that denial.

Somewhat foreshadowing Princess Di, the English public remained sympathetic and devoted to Catherine. Among the lower classes, the divorce was an anathema; many clergy had difficulty accepting the replacement of the Pope with Henry VIII; the demise of Wolsey left the clergy without support or defense; and the northern provinces remained strongly Catholic and loyal to the pope. In England, proper, nationalism prevailed over ecclesiastical demands. There appeared a written demand that the King confiscate property of the hurch in England: “The Supplication of the Beggars.” There was further intrigue; Thomas Cromwell, who grew up in poverty but came to serve Wolsey, came to valiantly support King Henry. Henry was able to obtain from the parliament a declaration annulling the marriage of him with Catherine, thereby bastardizing their child, Mary.  Ultimately, Patliament declared the King to be sovereign over the Church in England (Anglican church). Chaotic! This was the political and cultural environment in which Thomas Thales and Robert Byrd lived and composed.

Thomas Tallis

Thomas Tallis is one of England’s great composers. He was a Roman Catholic in a time of religious turmoil in England precipitated by Henry VIII when he established the Anglican church. Queen Mary granted him and the younger William Byrd exclusive rights to publish monophonic and polyphonic music in England, the use of a manor and an annual income.

His style of writing moved from melismatic treatment of the texts to syllabic and chordal treatments, wedding music to text.  He wrote a number of anthems in the English vernacular.  In a time when musical composition was becoming more complex, he maintained a more simple style with the possible exception of his Spem In Alium , written for eight choirs and forty parts or voices.  Even then, despite the many voices, it remains thematically, rhythmically and harmonically simple.

God Grant with Grace (Psalm 67:1-2: http://bibleasmusic.com/god-grant-with-grace-psalm-67-1-2-thomas-tallis/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBibleAsMusic+%28The+Bible+as+Music%29

See http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/composers/tallis.htm for a brief biography and discography of Tallis.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6RgaPTo4hE for a performance of Tallis’ anthem, If Ye Love Me Keep My Commandments performed by the Cambridge singers, directed by John Rutter; see, also http://bibleasmusic.com/composers/thomas-tallis/ for a choral performance and a brass quintet performance of the same work.  At the bottom of that page you will also find a video of a choral performance of his In ieiunio et fletu (from Cantiones Sacrae, 1575)

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjAmQ-F6-jA&feature=related for a performance of his motet, “The Lamentations of Jeremiah.”

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cn7ZW8ts3Y for a performance of the motet, Spem In Alium.  See, also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2rK_Yhpui8&feature=related for a video of a remarkable mass performance of this work with choirs totaling 700 singers in Manchester, England and conducted by David Lawrence.

http://bibleasmusic.com/god-grant-with-grace-psalm-67-1-2-thomas-tallis/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBibleAsMusic+%28The+Bible+as+Music%29

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3_hbeXOTyY&feature=related for a collection of his sacred music, including Spem In Alium, and a note concerning the constantly shifting religious environment of England, in which he wrote. The comments of viewers of that particular blog are beautiful in their own right. Several affirm my own experience of the spiritual nature of aesthetic beauty.

See http://www.classicalarchives.com/composer/3437.html for recordings of his music available for purchase.

http://bibleasmusic.com/god-grant-with-grace-psalm-67-1-2-thomas-tallis/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBibleAsMusic+%28The+Bible+as+Music%29

William Byrd

William Byrd (1540–1623) was an English composer contemporary with Thomas Tallis. He wrote sacred and secular polyphony and music for the keyboard, called a virginal. In 1575 he and Tallis were granted the exclusive right to print and publish music in England by Queen Elizabeth. The two composers jointly published 34 Latin motets, 17 each, dedicated to the Queen. He was a Catholic, remaining loyal to his Church when the Parliament established the Anglican church. When Pope Pius V issued a bull, absolving subjects of Queen Elizabeth from allegiance to her, Byrd became a subject of seditious suspicions.

He remained committed to his Catholic faith throughout his life, as was expressed in his approximately 50 motets. Many of his works have been associated with subjects of Jewish persecution and exile in Egypt and in Babylon, leading some experts to suggest that he intended those representations to analogize his lamentations to the plight of Catholics in England, particularly in his Tribue Domine of 1575, Tribulatio proxima est (1589) and Infelix ego (1591). Oen stylistic characteristic of his motets is its conservative preservation of the cantus firmus style, perhaps reflective of his Catholic allegiance.

For examples of his work, see the following:

Vigilate,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo9OnbLLnfE

Mass for Five Voices

Kyrie,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo3GYkAgylQ&feature=relmfu
Agnus Dei,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePqqoag8s1E
Credo,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjtxKpHSXzg&feature=related
Gloria,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adqkpCgkrIE&feature=related

Mass for 4 voices

Credo,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmCuwt3BNGQ&feature=related
Agnus Dei,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op8yU7Rl1TU&feature=relmfu
Sanctus

Ave Verum Corpus,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFZZMF7SRRo&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Note the preparations for dissonance, the dissonance, and its resolution.

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John Tavener (c. 1490 – 1545)

In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, Europe saw the church’s influence weakened politically, culturally, and theologically. With the organization of labor in guilds, and the increase of industry, local economies began to develop, leading to the rise of political states rivaling the power of the Church and the rise of a new aristocracy associated with the development of industry and trade. Previously, Latin had been the language of the church and of learning. With the rise of political states, their vernacular languages also developed. In the course of time, the vernacular became acceptable in courts of law and literature. With the invention and development of the printing press by Gutenberg in the early 15th century, the dissemination of ideas proliferated and empowered those who could afford the published books and pamphlets, wresting control of learning from the realm of the Church, which previously could provide the labor of monks to copy and decorate manuscripts in the official language of the church, Latin, and to disseminate it. With the advent of movable type, the power of the press and the printed word increased exponentially, expanding the scope of education beyond that provided by the Church. The power of ideas grew with the spread of learning from Church to university and to trade guilds.  The publication of ideas escaped the censorial grip of ecclesiastical authority, becoming available via commercial interests to a secular culture which became increasingly independent of the hurch.

Not all of these developments can be attributed to the printing press. Indeed, in the early 14th century, John Wycliff, writing in the official language of the church, Latin, laid the foundation for England to sever political and ecclesiastical ties to the Church and the establishment of the Church of England, based upon the model of its parent; not beholden to it, but “free” to serve the English monarchy. Wycliff, an ordained priest and a professor of theology at Oxford, introduced the doctrine of predestination, which, in some form or another, has dogged Protestant throughout its history. From that doctrine were derived notions of manifest destiny in the later colonization of distant lands by European powers, and even today by Christian notions in various degrees of “God’s will.”

With Wycliff arises a notion picked up by Luther and other reformers almost a century later that no priestly intermediary is necessary for a relationship of the Christian with God; rather, all persons are priests with the capacity of direct communion with God. God is not the exclusive property of the Church. Rather than the assertion of some Catholic mystics, such as St. Francis, that the world reveals the glory of God, Wycliff, in releasing laity from dependence upon the Church for direct communion with God, he taught a dualism and notion of Original Sin that harasses Protestantism yet  today;  he challenged the Catholic notion of transubstantiation which held that in the Catholic Eucharist the bread not merely represented the body of Christ but upon its consecration became the body of Christ, and the wine became his blood – not symbolically but literally. As a middle ground, he put forth the theological notion that Christ’s blood and body did not change the substance of the bread and wine, but became spiritually present in consubstantiation with Christ. He recommended that the Church in England declare independence from the Catholic Church.

At that same time, the riches of the earth and its minerals were discovered, mined and utilized in England and traded throughout Europe. The increase of the woolen industry, saw the rise of the business class, and, through trade with other European centers of commerce, brought great wealth to England. The manorial system throughout Europe had been weakened by the Church’s release of peasants from fealty to join the Crusades and by the influence of its encounters with Muslim and other civilizations in the process.

As political power became concentrated in local areas throughout Europe, and as they gained independence from the authority of the Church, conflicts between the states often resulted in war, some of it fitful and prolonged, as the Hundred Years War. That further weakened the manorial system. The populace shifted its allegiances from feudal lords and swore loyalty to its King. During that time the English language was established as the language of both English law and its courts. Increasingly, literature was written in the vernacular. Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales in the latter portion of the 14th century and through its characters provided the reader a baudy view of contemporary English political, ecclesiastical and social society of that time.

Biblical scholarship took a leap in England with Tyndale’s publication of the English New Testament. It was distinguished from prior versions in that he returned to the original Hebrew and Greek sources rather than the traditional Latin Vulgate. His intention was to make that Scripture directly accessible to the laity rather than as restricted to priestly mediation under the authority of papal orthodoxy.

John Tavener

John Tavener, an organist, and composer, was known as the most important English composer of his time. He wrote sacred vocal music, primarily, including masses, motets, antiphons, and Magnificats.

Like Johannes Ockeghem, he based a Mass upon a popular secular song, “The Western Wynde;”  and Johannes Ockeghem later wrote a mass on the same melody. Unusual for the day, John Tavener introduces that melody by three of the four voices of the Mass, at different times, nine times each.  In order to make each of the mass sections approximately of equal length, those with fewer words are more melismatically treated, as in the Gloria in the Christmas carol, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  He also frequently uses the cantus firmus of a plainchant in an interior part, often augmenting it to draw it out, and to some extent disguise it from superficial hearing.  Some of his masses include sections for soloists rather than the entire choir. The solo sections marked with the words “In Nomine” were at times scored for instruments.  Other composers began writing for groups of instruments, such as a viol consort, upon his modeling, also designated by the words, In Nomine. He often used material from a motet that he had composed to construct a mass.  The resultant form was called a “parody” mass.

You will also note that during this period of the Renaissance, although chordal progressions are limited, there is a sense of “drive to the cadence,” which is a major step toward chordal progression.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfdGvDjoJPM&feature=related for a performance of the Gloria from his “Westron wind

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0shjKZhQwfg&feature=fvwrel for a performance of his Sanctus and Benedictus from Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas, with video that visually follows his score.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USOTo-xBHuw for a video of his Dum transisset sabbatum in the cathedral setting by Cappella Nicolai as it originally would have been performed.
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8YuEP2lDFo&playnext=1&list=PL3ACB2D630E255586&feature=results_main for a performance of his ‘Dum transisset Sabbatum,’ Easter Sunday with video representation of the score.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRl3qSAXGio&feature=related for a recording of his complete Missa O Michael, with video identification of the mass sections.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-TuRZugo9g&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKPZJk2Kn0M&feature=related for his instrumental, In Nomine.

This performance of “The Mother of God” is sublime:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp6P-GNIQG8&feature=relmfu is sublime!

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Johannes Ockeghem (ca. 1410 – 1497)

The Franco – Flemish school flourished in the area of the Netherlands. It was known for its development of polyphonic techniques and music, particularly that of the motet in which all four voices were interesting in their own right as melodies, of generally equal weight.  Johannes Ockeghem was an early member of this school the most well-known in the last part of the 15th century. He stands as a bridge between Dufay and Josquin des Prez. He wrote chanson, which is a secular, polyphonic song in which the music supports the lyrics; but his primary output was in the form of the Mass, in about half of which he continued to use the principle of the cantus firmus.  Of those, two masses are built upon a cantus firmus based upon the melody of a chanson that he had written.  He was well known for both the quality of his technique and of his expressive affect. The design of his bass line was likely affected by his experience as a bass singer: they are particularly interesting.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWLsLAujZzI for the Kyrie from his Missa Prolationum.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NYETxriizg&feature=related for a performance by The Clerks’ Group of the entire Missa Prolationum.

 

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See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1rfnruWYWs&feature=related for an almost three hour collection of Ockeghem’s sacred music.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT_fk6L0ULg&feature=related for a fascinating canonical treatment of Deo Gratias.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LlWhXNu_us&feature=related for a great video effect of the same initial canonical treatment by the Hilliard Ensemble, except expanded to enhance the visual effect.  Fun!

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Guillaume Dufay (ca. 1397 – 1474)

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-25R_SaDao for a performance of his Ave Maris Stella.  Although, as we previously mentioned concerning the harmonies of Medieval and Renaissance choral music, the harmonies do not rise to organized chordal progressions as that later introduced by Monteverdi, he uses a technique common to such chordal progressions: he creates a dissonance just before the close of the piece which resolves into a consonant chord of repose upon the tonic (the first scale degree).

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TacNIbmDZ4s&feature=related for another setting of Avé Maris Stella for women’s voices and organ.  You will note that the music is much more refined than is prior medieval music, part of which is attributable to its triadic harmonies, which, toward  the close of phrases or a series of phrases. anticipate a closing cadence.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcKasCiX26Y&feature=fvwrel for a performance of the Credo from Dufay’s L’homme armé (The Armed Man”) Mass.  L’homme armé was a popular, secular song in the 15th century, with overtones of political satire, which many composers of that century used as a cantus firmus (principal melody upon which the choral piece is built) for sacred works, such, as here, a mass.   See, also, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWyGfK4k2bs&feature=related for a performance of the Agnus Dei and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drqXpKuxuxc&feature=relmfu for the Gloria from the same Mass.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPEXi5Qkook for a performance of his Magnificat for voice and instruments.

See http://www.classicalarchives.com/composer/7690.html for recordings of Dufay’s music available for purchase at Classical Archives.

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John Dunstable (or Dunstaple) (c. 1390 – 1453)

Dunstable was one of the most famous composers active in the early 15th century, and a contemporary of Leonel Power. Until Dunstable, the octave, fifth, and fourth were considered stable and consonant intervals. It isn’t like these other intervals were not as good, indeed, you will note in most of these composers we have looked at so far, it is not unusual to have a passing second which is quite dissident, especially the minor second, but works very nicely when in a passing melodic line and is gently entered and resolved.  Dunstable was noted for his style of music known as the “English countenance,” or la contenance angloise.  He not only liked the interval of the third, but discovered that if one third was placed above another third, making a triad, it sounded very pleasing and stable, as did a third juxtaposed with a sixth.   Today we would know this combination as a chord; however, it would not be until Monteverdi in the early Baroque Period that these cords would be arranged into a chordal progression that could have the effect of giving the listener an expectation of what was to come, of leading the listener to anticipate what will come, which also could set up a harmonic surprise.  We haven’t arrived there yet.

In order to see the function of a chordal progression in Monteverdi as compared to the mere triadic structures in John Dunstable, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=zsL4MGFh6QI&feature=endscreen

Compare John Dunstable’s Veni Sancte Spriritus at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMboKS7ZJjk in which you will note passing dissonances of a second, a seventh or a nineth, with the chordal qualities of Monteverdi’s Lamento della Ninfa  at http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=zsL4MGFh6QI&feature=endscreen; or see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLjeL86pyBg&feature=related for a performance of the same piece in a different venue and by a different group.

See http://bibleasmusic.com/composers/john-dunstaple/ for a performance of Quam pulchra es [How beautiful you are] from the Song of Solomon 7:6, 7, 5a, 4a, 11a, 12.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD4iGohZ81k&feature=related for a performance of his O rosa bella by soprano, harp and recorder.

Compare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NvPxAY_ll4&feature=related for a different performance and instrumentation of the same composition.

See

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I4An0pfYNc for a performance by male voices of Sancta Maria, non est tibi similis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6giWShdxi4&list=ALDZPCPAXS78g7xtnvcSpAQBxlYFA4q785&index=2&feature=plcp for a performance of his Salve Scema Sanctitatis.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei9btWV8uKc&feature=related for a performance of his Motets – Veni sancte spiritus – Veni Creator.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z010dVtscYw&feature=related for an organ performance of Agincourt Hymn.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I4An0pfYNc for a performance by male voices of Sancta Maria, non est tibi similis.

See http://www.classicalarchives.com/composer/2454.html for recordings of his compositions available for purchase at Classical Archives.

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Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/