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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (Born in Palestrina (Praeneste) or Rome, 1525, latest February 1, 1526 - Rome, February 2, 1594) was an Italian composer of Renaissance music.

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He was nicknamed Il Prenestino. He had a tremendous influence on the development of Roman Catholic church music[?].

He went to Rome at the age of fourteen to sixteen and is supposed to have studied under Claude Goudimel[?]. In 1544-51 he was organist of the principal church of his native city (St. Agapito, Palestrina), and in the latter year became maestro di cappella at Cappella Giulia[?] in Rome. By his first compositions -- three masses dedicated to Pope Julius III (previously the Bishop of Palestrina) -- he made so favorable an impression that he was appointed musical director of the Julian chapel. He held similar positions at various chapels and churches in Rome until his death (notably St. John Lateran (1555-60) and St. Maria Maggiore (1561-6)); and by his compositions, which are very numerous -- masses, motets, hymns, and others, of which only one-half have been published -- he produced a complete revolution in the history of church music, altering the existing chants in line with the recommendations of the Council of Trent. The Missa Papae Marcelli is generally counted among his greatest masterpieces.

Palestrina left hundreds of compositions, including 104 masses, 68 offertories[?], 250 motets, 45 hymns, psalms, 33 magnificats, lithanies[?], 4 or 5 sets of lamentations[?] etc., at least 140 madrigals and 9 organ ricercari. His Missa sine nomine seems to have been particularly attractive to Johann Sebastian Bach, who studied and performed it while he was writing his own masterpiece, the Mass in B Minor[?]. His compositions are typified as very clear, with voice parts well-balanced and beautifully harmonized.

Much study and research has been done on his music. Notably:

Jeppesen, Knud, The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance. 2nd ed., London, 1946. (An exhaustive study of his contrapuntal technique.)

_______. Counterpoint. New York, 1939.

Haigh, Andrew C. "Modal Harmony in the Music of Palestrina." From the festschrift Essays on Music: In Honor of Archibald Thompson Davison. Harvard, 1957. pp.111-120.



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