Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi Da

 

(Palestrina). Born circa 1525 in Palestrina, near Rome; died Feb. 2, 1594, in Rome. Italian composer; head of the Roman school of polyphony.

From 1544 to 1551, Palestrina was organist and choirmaster at the principal church in the town of Palestrina. In 1551 he came to Rome, where he held positions in the pontifical choir, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Sistine Chapel. Most of his creative work is religious a capella music. He created striking examples of a transparent polyphony that does not obscure the text. His music is distinguished for a balance between polyphonic and harmonic principles, as well as for a tranquil euphony. Dramatic effects and sharp contrasts, which are typical of works by many of his contemporaries, are alien to his art, which is serene and reflective.

Palestrina achieved a new, clearer, more flowing expressiveness in polyphonic music. He transformed vocal polyphony, revealing its harmonic possibilities. For this reason, like other composers of his time, Palestrina is considered a forerunner of the stylistic revolution of the turn of the 17th century. He wrote more than 100 masses and approximately 180 motets, as well as hymns, magnificats, and spiritual and secular madrigals.

WORKS

Werke, vols. 1–33. Leipzig, 1862–1903.
Le opere complete, vols. 1–29. Rome, 1939–62. (Publication in progress.)

REFERENCES

Ivanov-Boretskii, M. V. Palestrina. Moscow, 1909.
Ferracci, E. II Palestrina. Rome, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.