Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Noel O'Regan

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

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The composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was already being recognized as an iconic figure during his lifetime and has remained so ever since. His importance transcends his own life and works because he has come to sum up both an entire period (the second half of the 16th century) and a style (the refined Italian version of a Franco-Flemish prototype in which consistent imitation played a key role). Adopted particularly by the Roman Catholic Church, his style came to be seen as the ideal means of setting sacred texts in the liturgical context. For centuries, too, Palestrina’s music has been used as a model in composition teaching, with generations of composers having been trained in counterpoint by analyzing and imitating his music. The historiography of Palestrina began with Giuseppe Baini’s ground-breaking Memorie storico-critiche della vita e delle opere di Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina of 1828 (see General Overviews), the first life and works study of a composer to use archival and source studies as a basis. More than just a study of Palestrina, it described the institutional contexts in which he worked and the music that survives in them, as well as the antecedents and followers of the composer. The interest awakened by this book coincided with the post-Napoleonic and Romantic interest in conserving and restoring the cultural heritage of the past. This was the spur for a major collecting project, undertaken by people like the Roman Fortunato Santini and the Bavarian Carl Proske, in which music by Palestrina and his contemporaries was transcribed and edited from original sources found in various Roman and other libraries. This material was to form the basis for the first complete edition of Palestrina’s works by Franz X. Haberl and others (see Modern and Facsimile Editions), published between 1862 and 1907. German scholarship has continued to provide a lead, particularly through Heidelberg University’s late 20th-century research project on the music of the Sistine Chapel, and the work of Winfried Kirsch and his collaborators on Palestrina’s influence on nineteenth-century music (see Conference Proceedings). Italian interest in Palestrina was stimulated by the centenary years of 1894 and 1925, while 1939 saw the start of a second complete edition under the editorship of Raffaele Casimiri (see Modern and Facsimile Editions). In recent years the major center for research into the composer has been the Fondazione Pierluigi da Palestrina, based in the house in which the composer was born; under the guiding spirit of Giancarlo Rostirolla, a series of international conferences on Palestrina and his contemporaries has been organized, a new complete edition is in progress, and a series of facsimile editions and other publications have been issued (see Reference Resources, Modern and Facsimile Editions, Conference Proceedings). The 1994 quatercentenary gave a particular boost to Palestrina scholarship, resulting in a spurt of articles in journals such as Early Music in the years immediately following (see Palestrina’s Working Environment, The Council of Trent and Its Aftermath, and Performance Practice).

Article.  8691 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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