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Giovanni P. da Palestrina

Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina achieved an almost legendary reputation during his lifetime, and this endured for several centuries despite changing styles and tastes. The 'Palestrina style' epitomises the late-Renaissance ideal with its concern for textual clarity, its blending of smooth contrapuntal lines with homophonic writing and a harmonic language coloured by tellingly calculated dissonance. J J Fux described him as 'the celebrated light of music' in his treatise Gradus ad Parnassum (1725) which drew liberally on Palestrina's working methods. Many later composers, including those of the First Viennese School, developed their contrapuntal experience through Fux's study.

Palestrina held a number of church appointments in Rome, notably at St Peter's. His large corpus of works, many of which were published in his lifetime, comprises some 105 masses and several hundred 'motets' (including offertories etc), hymns, litanies, Magnificats and lamentations as well as 143 madrigals, both secular and 'spiritual'. He left no instrumental music - with the possible exception of eight spurious 'ricercari' for organ.

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