The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Palestrina, Giovanni Pietro Aloisio da
PALESTRINA, Giovanni Pietro Aloisio da, an Italian composer, born in Palestrina in 1524, died in Rome, Feb. 2, 1594. In 1551, having gained some distinction as a composer, he was admitted among the singers of the pontifical chapel, and a few years later was made chapelmaster by Pope Julius III., to whom he had dedicated four masses for four voices. He was the first upon whom this title was conferred. In 1555 he was dismissed from office by Paul IV. for having married, and for several years he was successively chapelmaster at the churches of St. John Lateran and Santa Maria Maggiore. In 1571 he was appointed chapelmaster of St. Peter's, and shortly after maestro to the congregation of the Oratory. The subject of improving ecclesiastical music having been referred by the council of Trent to a committee, a discussion arose respecting the secular tunes which then formed the principal themes of most masses and psalms. Palestrina, being called upon to compose a work in a more simple and devotional style, for the sake of contrast, produced his celebrated “Mass of Pope Marcellus.” His music, consisting chiefly of masses, psalms, motets, and madrigals, is grave and learned. A Stabat Mater, and specimens of his masses, motets, and madrigals, have been published by A. E. Choron, but the greater part of his works are to be found only in the large libraries of Europe. Some of his masses and motets are still employed in the service of the Roman Catholic church, and three of his motets adapted to versions of the Psalms are in use in the English cathedral service. — See Baini, Memorie della vita e delle opere di Palestrina (2 vols. 4to, Rome, 1828; German, Leipsic, 1834).