The Midle Ages and the Renaissance

12th to 16th century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

(c. 1525-1594)


Probably born in, and taking his name from, a small town near Home, Palestrina gained his musical education in Rome itself. He was a choirboy there, and lived most of his life in the city, with years of service to three important basilicas: St Peter's, St John Lateran, and Santa Maria Maggiore. First an organist and choirmaster for the cathedral in Palestrina, he became choirmaster of the Cappella Giulia (Julian Chapel) in St Peter's in 1551. While there he published his first book of Masses, in 1554, citing Popejulius III as his patron. Within a year of this he became a member of the Papal choir in the Sistine Chapel, although, having been married since 1547, he had to leave when a new pope introduced a celibacy ruling. He went on to be choirmaster at St John Lateran (succeeding Lassus), and then at the more important Santa Maria Maggiore.

During the 1570s Rome was hit by plague, which claimed the lives of Palestrina's wife, two of their children, and a brother, tragedies which led him to start training for the priesthood. However, within eight months of his wife's death he had married a wealthy widow, and he went on to excel himself at managing her fur business. In 1571, he was reappointed to the Julian Chapel, where he remained as choirmaster until his death. Offers from Duke Gugliclmo Gonzaga in Mantua and the Emperor Maximilian I! in Vienna could not entice him away from Rome.

Palestrina was a prolific composer, writing mainly sacred music such as Masses, motets, and Magnificats, in the a cappella style (no instrumental accompaniment), as well as both secular and sacred madrigals; the pinnacle of his achievement is in his Masses, of which he wrote more than one hundred.

He spent his working life under the influence of the Counter-Reformation. The Council of Trent in particular savagely censored the arts, condemning, among other things, the inclusion of secular material in sacred work, and the overuse of instruments. It was claimed that the polyphonic style of composition was too ornate, and that the complexity of such music obscured rather than enhanced the words of the religious service; some reformers urged a return to the simpler, monophonic plainchant as the permissible form of celebrating the Liturgy. With his famous Missa Papac Marcelli (dedicated to Pope Marcellus II), Palestrina proved that polyphonic music could project its sacred message with sufficient clarity to comply with the Council's dictates. Legend has it that he wrote the Mass expressly for the Council; whether this is true, it is for this composition that he is deemed by some to have been the "saviour of Church music."


"The most frivolous and gallant words are set to

exactly the same music as those of the Bible..."

Hector Berlioz on them music of Palestrina

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina



Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594)



Missa Tu es Petrus  (dir. Simon Ravens)  live recordings for Concert FM.

Constitutes eos
Missa Papae Marcelli (dir. Simon Ravens)  live recordings for Concert FM.

Da cosi dotta man
Sicut cervus
Il est bel et bon
Jesu, Rex Admirabilis
Dilectus meus
Amici Cantores - Exsultate Deo
Sicut cervus
Dilectus meus
Ego sum panis vivus
Exsultate deo
Kyrie Missa Papae Marcelli
Agnus Dei Missa Papae Marcelli
Kyrie Missa Brevis
Sanctus  Missa Brevis
Agnus Dei Missa Brevis
O Crux ave
Sicut CervusI
Tu es Petrus












Orff  "Carmina Burana"


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