Feast of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (February 1)   Leave a comment

palestrina

Above:  Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Image in the Public Domain

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GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA (1525-FEBRUARY 2, 1594)

Roman Catholic Composer and Musician

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (Latinized name = Ioanes Petraloysius Praenestinus), was a native of Palestrina, near Rome.  His musical training started at a young age; he was a choir boy at St. Maria Maggiore, Palestrina, by the age of 12 years.  By 1544 he was both an organist and a singer at the church.  Giammaria Ciocchi del Monte, Bishop of Palestrina (1543-1550), the future Pope Julius III (reigned 1550-1555), noticed the musician’s talents.  Our saint married Lucrezia Gori in 1547; the couple had three sons:  Rodolfo, Angelo, and Iginio.  The family was in Rome as the maestro di cappella of the Julian Chapel.  In the Eternal City the composer published his first book of Masses and dedicated it to Pope Julius III.  Our saint also sang in the pontifical choir (until Pope Paul IV forbade married men to do so), became the composer to the papal chapel, and, in 1555, became the choir director at St. John Lateran.  That choir, unfortunately, was small in both number an ability.

The composer left Rome in 1560.  He returned to St. Maria Maggiore.  However, our saint returned to the Eternal City six years later.  From 1567 to 1571 he was in charge of the music at the Villa d’Este, Tivoli, under Cardinal Ippolito d’Este.  Then, from 1571 to 1594, our saint held his old job, maestro di cappella of the Julian Chapel.  From 1572 to 1581 he buried his first wife and his first two sons.  Eventually the composer remarried; his second wife was Virginia Dormiti, widow of a wealthy merchant.

The composer died at Rome on February 2, 1594.  He was about 69 years old.

Our saint composed many madrigals, motets, and Masses.  His masterpieces included the following:

  1. O Magnum Mysterium,
  2. Pope Marcellus Mass,
  3. Missarum Liber Primus,
  4. Canticum Canticorum,
  5. Exsultate Deo,
  6. Lamentationes Ieremiae Prophetae,
  7. Missa Brevis,
  8. Missa Assumpta est Marie in Caelum, and
  9. Missa Nigra Sum.

The compositions of our saint have enriched the lives of many people (including me) during the centuries since the 1500s.  He praised and glorified God with his God-given abilities and added much beauty to the world in the process.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK COOK ATKINSON, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Giovanni Palestrina da Palestrina

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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