Palestrina, Giovanni (1525-1594) - Искусство

Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina was an Italian composer who wrote over one hundred settings of the mass. He composed sacred music and was an important musical figure of the Renaissance. He is best known for his "seamless texture" of polyphony.

His prominent works are his First Book of Masses, the Mass of Marcellus, and his First Book of Motets. He composed masses, motets, and sacred works. Adoramus te Christe is an example of his sacred music. His music is marked by purity, clarity, terseness, simplicity, and the omission of secular elements. Because of all of his worthy compositions, he earned the title "Prince of Music," which was engraved on the leaden plate that marks the tomb on his grave. He died in 1594, but his influence lasted for many eras past his death.

Task 1. Read the text.

Task 2. Speak about the main composers of Renaissance, their music, style and achievements, that influence the development of music in other periods.

Text 4. The Baroque Era Music (1600-1750 C. E. )

The term Baroque era describes the style or period of European music between the years of 1600 and 1750. The term Baroque was derived from a Portuguese word meaning “a pearl of irregular shape”. The word Baroque was initially used to imply strangeness, abnormality and extravagance, applying more to art than music. It was only in the 20th century that this term has been employed to refer to a period in music history.

When compared with its predecessors, Baroque music can be seen as being highly ornate, lavishly textured and intense. The music of this period was characterized by rich counterpoint and a highly decorated melodiс line. The music of this period has a number of defining characteristics including the use of the basso continio and the belief in the doctrine of the affections. The doctrine of affections allowed composers to express emotions and feelings in their compositions. Another distinguishing characteristic of the Baroque era was the emphasis on contrast of volume, texture, and pace in the music, as compared to music of the late Renaissance, which did not concentrate on these elements. In addition, Baroque music broke away from the harshness of the Medieval and early Renaissance style with new emphasis on the use of vocal and instrumental color. Secular types of music were now in abundance and used as widely as those of the liturgical music. Imitative polyphony (more than one line of music) still was an extremely important factor in writing and playing music, while the homophonic method (a musical technique that displays a vast separation amongst the melody line and the accompaniment) was gaining acceptance and use quite rapidly. This homophonic style eventually became dominant in instrumental forms of music as well. Musical works containing a continio part in which a keyboard (usually a harpsichord or an organ) and a bass instrument (usually a bassoon or a cello) helped to convey the harmonic support of chords under the melodic lines.

Although homophonic music was becoming increasingly popular during this time in music history, new forms of polyphonic music were also developing simultaneously.

Some of the specific features of this period are the development of opera, ballet and chamber music.


Baroque opera developed from the stories of ancient Greek tragedy. Italian musicians sought to express the emotion and depth of these Greek tragedies and thus integrated them into their own modern form, the opera.

There are certain things that make up an opera. The music, orchestra, libretto, performers, costuming, and stage design (complete with scenery and lighting). There would almost always be some sort of solo part, whether it be a solo aria, duet, or trio. The opera would open with the overture, the instrumental piece that the orchestra would play to introduce the performance. Along with the orchestra a chorus was also present in the opera.

Italian Opera

Florentine Opera
At the end of the 1500s, a group of Florentine noblemen wanted to bring back ancient Greek tragedy. Calling themselves the Camerata, they created the stil rappresentativo, or theater style. This was a new style of singing of drama, and, consequently, became the earliest operas. This new form of music developed because composers of the polyphonicmadrigal style were looking for ways to convey dramatic expression. This new "theater style" became prevalent and was used consistently in opera.

Roman Opera
In the 1630s, Rome became the center of opera. Roman opera differed from the Italian form in that it focused more on religious subjects than on Greek mythology. Roman opera also employed the use of its chorus to a greater extent. The aria and the recitative were beginning to become more distinct and greatly differed from one another. The intermezzi, a comedic interlude between acts, would be the model for the future comedic opera style.

Venetian Opera

Venice became the center of Italian opera in the early to mid 1600s. In 1637, the first public opera house, the Teatro San Cassiano, opened its doors in the city of Venice.

The Venetian opera had its own special attributes. It used less choral and orchestral music and place more emphasis on formal arias as well as on elaborate stage machinery. The bel canto, or "beautiful singing" style, started to appear. This style placed more focus on vocal elegance than on dramatic expression. Two final characteristics of venetian opera were its complex and improbable plots and the prototype of its overture, which was a short instrumental fanfare performed at the beginning of the opera.

Neopolitan Opera

European opera was dominated by the Neopolitan opera form during the later 1600s and early 1700s. During this period, operas became more artificial and formalized from the dramatic standpoint. An A-B-A sectional structure, called the da capo aria, and a siciliana, another aria in a minor key with six-eight meter and slow tempo, were widely used. As far as other components of the Neopolitan opera, the orchestra’s role was greatly diminished and the chorus was almost nonexistent. Recitatives were now being used, although they did not hold the same level of importance as the aria. The recitativo secco, or dry recitative, which had a declamatory melody with sparse continuo accompaniment, and the recitative accompagnato, which used and orchestral accompaniment were featured.

A compromise between these two main types of musical form, the aria and the recitative, emerged in the creation of the arioso. Male sopranos, or castratti, were the "superstars" of opera, with their showy and often improvisational use of vocal technique. The sinfonia, or Italian overture, was developed with a fast-slow-fast scheme. It would later develop into what is now known as the classical symphony.