Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/650

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638
PALESTRINA.
 

historic clearness of the matter were not what it is. [See Mass, vol. ii. 229, 230.]

In an enumeration of the works of Palestrina, published during this period of his life, we must not forget to mention five secular madrigals of his which Vincenzo Galilei, father of the astronomer, and a musical virtuoso of no mean order, set for the lute, and included in a collection of similar compositions which he published under the title of 'Fronimo,' through Scoto of Venice, in 1568, and again in 1584. The secular works of Palestrina are so few in number that the names of the madrigals are worth preservation. They are 'Vestiva i colli'; 'Così le chiome mie'; 'Io son ferito, ahi lasso'; 'Se ben non veggon gli occhi'; and 'Se tra quall' erbe e fiori.' With the exception of 'Io son ferito,' which is of a very high order of merit, these madrigals call for no more especial mention; nor can they be placed by any means among his more important works. Only the two first named have been published in ordinary notation. These were printed in 1585. Baini, however, mentions that he had seen an antique manuscript of the third and fourth in the Corsini Library, and had collated this carefully with the arrangement by Galilei.

Somewhere about the year 1560, Palestrina had acquired the patronage of the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, and for many years subsequently was treated by him with much kindness. As an acknowledgement of this he dedicated to this personage his first regular volume of motetti, which was published by the Dorici at Rome in 1569. This remarkable volume contains several works of the very highest class. We may instance those entitled 'Viri Galilaei,' and 'Dum complerentur,' for six voices. These are perhaps the best, though hard upon them in merit follow 'O admirabile commercium,' 'Senex portabat puerum,' and 'Cum pervenisset beatus Andreas,' for five voices, and 'Solve jubente Deo,' 'Vidi magnam turbam,' and 'Domine Jesu Christe adoro te,' for six voices. The rest of the collection, says Baini, though fine, are inferior. There are two later editions of these, both by Scoto of Venice, one of 1586, and the other of 1600.

It was in 1570 that he published his third volume of masses, dedicated to Philip II. It contains four masses for four voices, entitled 'Spem in alium,' 'Primi toni,' 'Brevis,' and 'De Feria'; two for five voices, 'Lome armé,' and 'Repleatur os meum'; and two for six voices, 'De Beatâ Virgine,' and 'Ut Re Mi Fa,' etc. Baini will have it that the mass 'Primi Toni' was thus technically designated because it was really founded upon the melody of a well-known madrigal in the 10th novella of Boccaccio's 9th Decameron, 'Io mi son giovinnetta'; and Palestrina feared that if its origin were avowed it would come within the meaning of the resolution of the Council of Trent against the 'mescolamento di sagro e profano' in church music. This supposition is highly improbable; for 'L'homme armé' bears its title boldly enough, yet it is as directly descended from a secular song. Palestrina composed this last-mentioned mass in competition with a number of others that already existed on the same subject, and he seems in his treatment of it to have consciously adopted the Flemish style. It is wonderfully elaborate. He has gone out of his way to overlay it with difficulties, and to crowd it with abstruse erudition, apparently from a desire once for all to beat the Flemings upon their own ground. On account of its scientific value Zacconi, in 1592, inserted it in his 'Practica Musicale,' testifying—and his was no mean testimony—that it was superior to the work of Josquin des Prés bearing the same name. He appends a careful analysis of it for the instruction of his readers. [See L'Homme Armé, vol. ii. p. 127.] The mass called 'Brevis' was directly composed upon one of Goudimel's, called 'Audi Filia'; the subject was probably selected for the purpose of contrasting his own method of treatment with those which it was his destiny and intention to supplant. It is among those which are best known and most frequently sung at the present day, and no more favourable specimen of his powers could well be cited.

We have now completed our survey of the works of Palestrina down to the date of his re-appointment to the Vatican. He had accepted the post from a love for the basilica in whose service his first fame had been gained. But he suffered what to him must have been a serious loss of income when he left Santa Maria Maggiore. For this however he obtained some compensation in his appointment as Maestro di Cappella to the new oratory founded by S. Filippo Neri, his confessor and intimate friend. But at no time had Palestrina any large share of worldly prosperity. His largest regular earnings were during the few years that he held the two offices of Maestro at Santa Maria, and Compositore to the Capella Apostolica. The salaries of these two amounted together to less than thirty scudi per month, besides certain trivial allowances. We never hear that he derived any profit from the sale of his works; nor, indeed, can it be supposed that at that epoch there was much money to be made by musical publications. He gave lessons for a short period in the school carried on by Nanini; but it is not at all likely that he did so with any other object than to assist his friend, or that he accepted any payment for his assistance. Throughout the whole course of his career he only taught seven private pupils, and three of these were his own sons. The others were Annibale Stabile, Andrea Dragone, Adriano Ciprari, and Giovanni Guidetti. It is probable therefore that, save for a few exceptional gifts from patrons and a little temporary employment as Director of Concerts, he had to subsist upon the very humble salaries attached to the permanent offices which he held. In addition to this chronic penury he had to endure stroke after stroke of the severest domestic affliction. His three promising sons, Angelo, Ridolfo, and Silla, all died one after the other, just as they had given substantial proofs of their intellectual inheritance of their father's genius;