Tag Archives: polyphony

Alexander Agricola: Magnificat

As we continue our journey through the sacred polyphony of the 15th Century, we feature today another piece by Alexander Agricola, his Magnificat which is a composition combining Plainchant and Polyphony in the style of the Burgundian School with orchestral accompaniment in this performance.

Mircologus 2 shares some commentary on Agricola’s style on his YouTube channel:

Agricola’s music was first transmitted in quantity in the 1490s. His most characteristic works are his songs and secular instrumental pieces, with over 80 surviving. They are overwhelmingly in three parts, and frequently quote songs by other composers, often in oblique fashion. Agricola’s series of instrumental variations on De tous biens plaine is a particularly conspicuous example of his flair for variety and ornamental figuration. Most of Agricola’s motets, of which he wrote over two dozen, are in a compact and straightforward style. The succinct three-voice Si dedero was the most-copied work of its generation, as well as a popular model for other settings. Agricola’s stature was consummated with Petrucci’s publication of a dedicated volume of his masses in 1504, and it is in his eight mass cycles that Agricola’s unusual sense for counterpoint shows most clearly. His Missa In minen sin is one of the largest cycles of the era, a virtual encyclopedia of motivic variation. Agricola did not show the concern for text championed by Josquin, nor the feel for open textures pioneered by Obrecht. His counterpoint is extremely dense, with a fantastical feeling developing upon the “irrationality” of Ockeghem’s designs. Agricola’s larger settings are consequently some of the most intricate and inventive of the era, combining an abundance of contrapuntal ideas with a seemingly intentional arbitrariness into a web of shifting musical connections.

Every day at 5 P. M. Rome time, FromRome.Info features a selection of sacred music by Catholic Composers throughout the ages, to edify our readers and expand their knowledge of the riches and treasures of Catholic liturgico-musical tradition.

Alexander Agricola: Ave maris stella

 

As we continue our journey through the sacred repertoire of Catholic composers of vocal polyphony in the 15th Century, we come to Alexander Agricola (c. 1445 -1506), a member of the Burgundian School. He worked at the courts of several of the most important men of his age: Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan, from 1471 to 1474; Lorendo de’Medici, 1474 – c. 1476. He was a singer at Cambrai in 1476, and probably was known to Guillaume du Fay, whose repertoire we have previously sampled.

From 1476 to 1491 it is not clear where he was precisely, but he was associated with the French Royal Court, where he made his fame as one of the great composers of his age.

In 1500, he took a position with Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy and King of Castile, in whose service he died of the plague, at Valladolid, in 1506.

In today’s piece, his Ave maris stella, we hear a polyphonic vocal with lute accompaniment, in a Spanish style.

Each day at 5 P.M. Rome time, FromRome.Info features a selection of Sacred Music to edify our readers in the treasures and beautify of Catholic Tradition, so they can better grasp the abnormality of the age of the aggiornamento and how profoundly evil it has been in depriving three generations of Catholics of beauty and holiness.

Antoine Busnois: Anthoni usque limina

As we continue to peruse the sacred repertoire of the 15th century Catholic composer, Antoine Busnois, we feature today his Antiphonal praising Saint Anthony of the Desert, for whom there was an explosion of devotion in the 14th century, when, at Avignon, during the outbreak of a plague of shingles, his relics borne in procession caused the immediate cure of hundreds of sick.

In response, the Avignon pope founded an Order of Saint Anthony, which was like a third order, to which anyone could subscribe. Its duty was to care for the sick by establishing hospices for the ill, outside of the city limits and caring for the sick there, for free. It was the continuation of a long tradition in the Church of such hospitals, dating back from at least the 8th century at Constantinople.

This is the English translation of the Antiphon which is heard here, in this piece:

Anthony, calles to the limits
of the earth and sea
and even further,
by God’s provision,
since you have defeated
demonic attacks
with manly bravery,
hear the choir
singin your deeds
with sweet song.

Save this choir,
with your help,
from the cesspool of hell,
so that, after this vale of tears,
Satan’s fire scorches us not.

So strong was the devotion to this Saint for the cure of shingles, that the disease is still known in many places as Saint Anthony’s fire. And if the use of bells, as is done in this performance, is according to Busnois’ text, then the Antiphon was perhaps used in processions of the Saint relics, as an invocation to the Saint, by those seeking his favor.

John Dunstaple: Sancta Maria

As we continue our journey through the Sacred Music of the 15th Century, we feature today a piece from the repertoire of John Dunstaple. Born around 1390 A.D., he entered the service of John of Lancaster, the first Duke of Bedford, and was probably part of his court, when the latter served a Regent of France, for the English Monarch, from 1423 to 1429. It was probably in France that he acquired the style he used in his sacred polyphony. He was one of the three most famous Catholic composers of the 15th Century.

Today, we begin with his Sancta Maria, non est tibi similis, which is an adaptation of the verses also used in the Tota Pulchra Est. Very influential in his century in the British Isles, one can hear the origins of the musical style of English Plainchant in seed, in this piece.

Here is the Libretto for the Antiphon:

Sancta Maria, non est tibi similis
orta in mundo in mulieribu
s
Florens ut rosa, flagrans sicut lilium,
ora pronobis, sancta Dei genitrix.

Guillaume du Fay: Missa L’Homme Armé

https://youtu.be/HsXfjZeIlKc

We conclude today our perusal of the sacred repertoire of Guillaume du Fay, canon and composer of sacred polyphony at Cambrai throughout most of the 15th Century. Here we featured his Missa L’Homme Armé.

FromRome.Info features at 5 pm each day, a selection of Sacrd Music from the treasury of Catholic History, to educate its readers in the beauty and grace which has characterized sacred music and the rites of the Catholic Church throughout the ages.

Guillaume Du Fay: Ecclesiae militantis

Guillaume_Dufay
Du Fay dressed as a Canon.

As we continue to peruse the sacred repertoire of Guillaume Du Fay, canon of the Cathedral of Cambrai in the 15th century, we feature today his isorythmic motet for full boy’s choir with musical accompaniment, Ecclesiae militantis, which Du Fay dedicated to Pope Eugene IV and which was most likely written for the ceremony of the papal enthronement of the same.

 

Guillaume Du Fay: Ave Maria Stella

As we continue our journey through the Catholic composers of Sacred Polyphony in the 15th Century, we sample today from the repertoire of Guillaume Du Fay, a great servant of the Church and of our Lady. (For Biographical notes, see here)

In this piece, we see how he has reworked the traditional Gregorian Chant in honor of Our Lady Star of the Sea, patron of travelers and mariners, into a most beautiful composition, which is stunningly evocative and filled with tones of reminiscence and longing that will characterize the music of the Romantic era.

FromRome.Info features every afternoon at 5 pm, a selection of Sacred Music from the famous Catholic composers of ages past, to educate our readers to the wonders and treasures of the Church throughout the ages.

 

Guillaume Du Fay: Missa Ecce ancilla Domini

This week we peruse the repertoire of Sacred Music from the 15th century. We begin with this piece by Guillaume Du Fay, his, Missa Ecce ancilla Domini, written in honor of Our Lady.

Du fay had a colorful life. Born as a bastard of a priest at Cambrai (now France); he was raised by his mother and, having shown exceptional musical talent, received the help of many clerics who gave him an excellent musical formation. He obtained a benefice as a chaplain at the age of 16, at Cambrai, traveled to Contanz for the Ecumenical Council held there 1415-1418. Returning to Cambrai, he was made a subdeacon at the Cathedral, where he served two years. Then he spent four years traveling in Italy and working as a musician for the Nobility. Worn out by travels he returned home for two years, beginning in 1426.

He then traveled to Bologna, in Italy, and was taken under the patronage of Cardinal Louis Aleman, the papal legal. He was ordained a deacon, and then a priest at Bologna.  He fled Bologna in 1428, when it rebelled against the Pope, and went to Rome where he entered the service of Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. There he became the most famous musician in Europe of his time. When the forces of Conciliarists drove Pope Eugene from Rome and set up a temporary republic, he accepted invitations to courts from all over Europe.

He was the court composer for the Duke of Savoy in 1434, and returned to the service of Pope Eugene IV at Florence in 1435. When the schismatic Council of Basel deposed Pope Eugene IV, he fled to Turin and got a degree in law and then returned home to Cambrai, where he obtained a position as Canon of the Cathedral in 1440.

From 1452 he traveled Italy seeking the patronage of the Nobility, writing and composing music to pay his way. In his final years, he returned to and remained at Cambrai, where his fame drew students of music and composers from all of Europe to collaborate with him. He completely revised the musical  books used by the Cathedral and set in motion the rise of sacred polyphony for the next generation.

He died on Nov. 27, 1470, and as he passed requested that his motet, Ave Regina Caelorum be sung. Thus died a great servant of Our Lady and the Church.

Guillaume de Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame

As we continue our perusal of Sacred Music, we turn to Guillaume de Machaut, the first known composer to write music for the entire Ordinary of the Mass. In this piece, entitled, Messe de Nostre Dame, he has dedicated his polyphonic composition with intrumental obbligato to Our Lady.

This mass was written during the reign of Pope Urban V, when Charles V was King of France.

It’s similarities with Gregorian Chant are undeniable, but clearly he has incorporated the style of singing for secular pieces into his work. This Mass was written before 1365 A.D., that is, just a few years after the Black Death had ravaged the continent and killed more than a third of the population.  This might explain why he has a secular style of singing in this piece, because the monasteries had been emptied of choir monks. Read more about this mass, here.

FromRome.Info features a differing piece of Sacred Music from the treasure of Catholic History, each day at 5 P.M., Rome time, to edify our readers in the wonders and beauty of Catholic music throughout the ages.

Josquin des Prés: Missa Ave maris stella

This week we are featuring a collection of Sacred Music from the repertoire of one of he great vocal composers of the age of Christopher Columbus, to show that the pre-Reformational Church was by no means bereft of things Sacred and was ornamented by great appreciation of both art and music, a thing which the monstrous reformers destroyed in large parts of Europe.

In this composition, Josquin des Prés puts to music the famous Marian Hymn, Ave maris stella, which was chanted during the Divine Office on Marian Feasts, on First Vespers etc.. Here, Josquin has worked the theme into an entire Mass. This Mass is by far one of his most beautiful compositions, even to having converted pagans to Catholicism. Here we hear the entire composition for 6 voices. FromRome.Info strongly recommends you acquire a copy of this production for your home library.

These posts on Sacred Music will appear daily at 5 pm Rome time and at 11 AM New York City time, or at 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.

Josquin des Prés: Stabat Mater

This week as we peruse the repertoire of Josquin des Prés, one of the great polyphonic composers for voice at the turn of the 16th century, we feature one of his great Marian masterpieces.

In this musical composition of Bl. Thomas of Celano, O.Min., Marian Hymn for Lent, Stabat Mater, Josquin des Prés shows what polyphony can do to express the sorrows of Our Lady during the Passion of Our Lord. This Hymn was sung both during the Mass and the Divine Office in ancient times.

These posts on Sacred Music will appear daily at 5 pm Rome time and at 11 AM New York City time, or at 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.

 

Josquin des Prés: Missa Pange lingua

As we continue our review of Sacred Music from the repertoire of Josquin des Prés, court composer for Popes and the King of France, we feature today his Missa Pangue lingua.

In this nearly 30 minute video, you can hear the complete polyphonic composition of his piece, which he wrote in inspiration of Saint Thomas Aquinas’ famous Latin Hymn for Corpus Christi.

You can read some excellent historical notes on this piece at Wikipedia, in Italian:
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missa_Pange_lingua

These music videos will be published daily at 5 pm Rome Time, 11 AM New York city time, and 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.

Josquin des Prés: Salve Regina

We continue our review of the Sacred Repertoire of Josquin de Prés, for the edification and religious and cultural education of our readers, with this performance of his Salve Regina, which was customarily sung at the end of Compline, the last hour of the Divine Office, from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the Saturday before Advent.

These music videos will be published daily at 5 pm Rome Time, 11 AM New York city time, and 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.

Josquin de Prés: Miserere mei Deus

Part and parcel of remaining a faithful Catholic, is learning to appreciate the treasures with which our Holy Faith has been enriched throughout the centuries by Faithful Catholics. Josquin de Prés, court composer for the Popes, was one of the first to experiment with polyphony. He lived and flourished at about the time of Christopher Columbus. In this beautiful but short piece, written for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Choir sings a capella, that is in the style of the Sistine Chapel, without instrumental accompaniment. The piece, Miserere mei Deus, is one of the penitential psalms.