New book on Palestrina -- might be interesting
  • Link:


    "This new book, written by a general historian, explores the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It fills a serious gap ' the last wide-ranging English language book for the general reader came out many decades ago. Drawing on large samples, the book follows Palestrina's music from love poetry, through changing events in the Church year, to successive sections of the composer's Mass settings.

    "At each stage descriptive sketches uncover some neglected treasures. The treatment of structure and style is accessible and largely non!technical. There is a focus on how the music relates to text, surrounding beliefs and ceremonies, on the total sound, and on the melodic lines and richly interweaving voice parts (cantus, alto, tenor, bass). The author discusses diverse ways of responding to the music, emotional, spiritual and imaginative. Palestrina's counterpoint, he suggests, can be interpreted as subtly and persistently intimating underlying beliefs about the eternal God. He examines its key features of voice part differentiation, equality and graceful concord. These, he argues, combine to symbolise good social relationships or ideal community. The book engages with Palestrina's life and environment, the eventful reception history, and the 'frontline' of singers and conductors.

    "Table of contents
    1 - Prince of music? 2 - Palestrina in his own time 3 - Love poetry and devotional diversities 4 - Sorrow, suffering, hope, and glory 5 - Music of amity and ideal community 6 - The quality of mercy: Kyrie eleison 7 - Gloria and Credo 8 - Controversies, choirs, conductors 9 - Sounding the mystery: Sanctus and Benedictus 10 - Peace & eternity: Agnus Dei. Select biblio!raphy. Index."

    For more about the author see
  • This sounds to be a book to have, one which will speak both to the general readership and to the scholar. I'll order a copy tomorrow.

    For those who would like a more technical discussion of Palestrina's sacred oeuvre, I have just finished reading The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance. It is a beautifully written and highly intelligent account of the subject by the early-to-mid XXth century Danish scholar, Knud Jeppesen. It is chock full of analytical examples and intuitive insight, and treats authoritatively with the matter of dissonance as related to text. I recommend it highly to those who are lovers of renaissance music, especially polyphony.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Drake Cantus67
  • stulte
    Posts: 355
    Neat looking book! Now, will they hurry up and canonize the man already!?!? :)
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 207
    I have just finished reading The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance. It is a beautifully written and highly intelligent account of the subject by the early-to-mid XXth century Danish scholar, Knud Jeppesen.

    I've had a copy of that book for ages, it's AWESOME!!!!!

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • hurry up and canonize

    Ok, y'all are gonna call me evil or something (in case you don't already) . . .

    I'm really not all that big on having musicians raised to the altar and calendar. It would just seem weird to me to think of St. Anton of Linz or St. Olivier of Avignon.

    Then, of course, there's the (hopefully unintentional) side-effect of 'promoting' the certain style of music in which said composer happened to thrive.

    I know, this is a paltry reason. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to emulate them, or pray to them for guidance. It just seems strange to me for some reason. There comes a point when you just can't go around and canonize everyone.

    Unless you promoted Vatican 2. In which case, get in line and take a number. /s
  • I always enjoy (which means, technically, 'I am en-joyed by...') Stimson's wry humour and sharp (though never, of course, acerbic) wit. However, I am moved with a degree of wryity to take issue with some of his rationales against musicianly sanctifications. Heaven knows we church musicians can use all the help we can get from heaven. In consideration of which, why would a St Pierluigi of Palestrina be any more a cause for a surfeit of imitations of his style (oh, wait! this already has happened [with disastrous results] in the late XIXth and early XXth centuries) than does St Dunstan (the greatest of saintly musical patrons) excite a surfeit of musicalisches opfer based on XIth century Wessexian English chant, or St Cecilia a glut of compositions based on pre-IInd century Roman chant-cantilation (about which we know next to nothing)? Why should we not have the pleasure of yet another sanctified worthy such as Palestrina to give us, as he does give and has given us, badly needed aid, comfort, and inspiration for five centuries? In the climate in which the kalendar is being graced with a new (pope) saint every month one could possibly conclude that Pierluigi is not being canonised because he was a musician and not a pontifex maximus - never mind that he was a musicus maximus who fulfilled his vocation with profound integrity, leaving Holy Church and all mankind with music of the rarest, most sublime spiritual worth. Indeed, his only fault may have been the part he played in the nefarious cabal that gave us that horrendous butchery of sacred song, Medicean chant.

    By the way - St Cecilia's feast day is this very 22nd November, Thanksgiving Day. Let us turn this Thanksgiving Day into a great Thanks Giving for Music, especially Church Music, and especially for all those, the quick and the dead, who have blessed and do bless the Church's worship with truly inspired music for the Lord's worship and our aedification. After all, they only brought and bring to fruition the seed that God himself planted within them - and we have reaped a bountiful harvest.

    St Dunstan (that other patron saint of music) has the 19th May for his day on the kalendar. We should remember and speak regularly with both Cecilia and Dunstan of Canterbury about our musical lives, deeds, and needs.

    Also by the way - many here will be aware that St Cecilia, one of the patron saints of music, has the rare honour of being mentioned in the Roman Canon. This speaks volumes, not only of St Cecilia herself, but of the importance of music in the life of the Church.
    Thanked by 2Heath CHGiffen
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,741
    MJO, we've had this talk before: das Opfer, die Opfer. ;-P Opfer, btw is not (as the coffee shops would have it) "offering" so much as "sacrifice", or as Schoenberg points out in his article on the Royal Theme as practical joke, "victim".

    We can all figure out who entered paradise on July 28, but the Lutheran and Episcopalian kalendars devote the day to "musicians": JSB, Händel & Schütz in the first case and JSB, Handel & Purcell in the other. I've always considered it a scandal that the lifelong Lutheran Mendelssohn is slighted in favor of the composer of… what, the Brockes Passion?
  • Chickson, please. Prove me wrong. I am open to it. Show an Internet Luddite like myself a manuscript of music by Saint Dunstan and I'll change my mind.

    Again, as I said in my message - I'm not opposed to invoking Catholic musicians of days past for their spiritual guidance. I'm all for it. (After all, I owe my reversion to one such musician whose name is fairly anathema in these parts.) But outside of folks like St. Pius X, who did a bunch of tubular stuff for the faith besides promoting music (and was a Pope - go figure) I just think it more appropriate that sanctified composers leave the legacy of their music to speak for themselves. I mean, musicians were doing it under the 'stage name' of Anonymous for a millennia until the craze for Self-Recognition came into vogue. And I'm sure they would sympathize for all that talent in our world that goes unseen. Taking a cue from Gray I'm sure that all artists the other side of the vale find satisfaction in the fact that "Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen".

    But no, Chick. If this is as simple a fix as Google searching and finding the good saint's music (which for both of us as well as the sake of my group named after the English Blacksmith may attest) then send it our way. I'm sure it's easier than I think. So prove me wrong. (By the way - is anyone familiar with the rumor that St. Dunstan composed the Missa de Angelis?)
  • Missa de Angelis at least is four to five hundred years younger than holy St Dunstan. If one never heard Fr Columba go into a well deserved tirade against the Missa de Angelis one missed out on an education and a beautiful exercise in restraint. (Yes, it's possible for a tirade to be restrained in good monkly fashion.) I wonder if this pitiful mass in C-Major would be as ubiquitously gushed over as it is if it hadn't been dubbed de Angelis.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen