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Giovanni da Palestrina

Giovanni da Palestrina

Biography

With works that are often regarded as the perfect models of Renaissance polyphony, Italian composer Giovanni da Palestrina had his first major appointment as the organist of San Agapito, Palestrina. After the election of Pope Julius III, he was appointed maestro di cappella of the Cappella Giulia in Rome, where he wrote his first works. Well-regarded in Rome's musical society, he shuffled through posts at two of Rome's greatest churches, St. John Lateran (1555-'60) and San Maria Maggiore (1561-'66). During the 1560s and 1570s Palestrina's fame and influence was bolstered by the wide distribution of his published works. His most famous mass, Missa Papae Marcelli, is said to have been composed to satisfy the requirements for musical cogency and textual intelligibility during the Counter-Reformation. After marrying his second wife, a wealthy fur merchant's widow, he enjoyed his most productive years at the end of his life free from financial concern. He died in Rome in 1594. A prolific composer of masses, motets and sundry sacred works, he assimilated and refined his predecessors' polyphonic techniques to produce a "seamless" texture based on balanced voices and a sense of nobility and restraint that made an unquestionable influence on Renaissance music.
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