16th century. Music in Italy
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-
He is the best known representative of the school of Rome in the 16th century. He had a very strong influence to the development of church music and his music is often viewed as the apotheosis of Renaissance polyphony.
He was born in Palestrina, a town close to Rome. In 1537 he visited Rome for first time. A great part of his career was spent there. He was influenced by northern European polyphony that prevailed in Italy during that era. More specifically he was influenced by Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Pres.
He composed hundreds of works, including 105 liturgies, madrigals 140 and over 300 motets. These liturgies illustrate the evolution of his style. Most of them were published between 1554-
One of his most important works, missa Papae Marcelli, score, was believed by historians that it had been composed in order to convince the council of Trent that the prohibition of polyphonic church music (and a shift towards more comprehensive homophonic music ) was not necessary (see also: counter-
One of the most significant characteristics of the Palestrina's style is that dissonant intervals are produced in ´´weak´´ parts of the measure. This results in a more consonant type of polyphony, typical of that historical period.
Today, the Palestrina style is the basis of education for students of Renaissance music at conservatories and colleges thanks to the efforts of Johan Joseph Fux, a composer and theorist of the 18th century. In his book "Gradus ad Parnassum" ( 1725), Fux collected and codified Palestrina's techniques to be used as an educational tool for composition students.
According to Fux, Palestrina founded the following guidelines:
The flow of music is dynamic, not rigid or static.
Melody should contain few leaps between notes.
If a leap occurs, it must be small and immediately countered by stepwise motion in the opposite direction.
Dissonances are to be confined to passing notes and weak beats. If one falls on a strong beat, it is to be immediately resolved
Later on, Knud Jeppesen fixed some stylistic mistakes made by Fux.
Palestrina Style: School of Rome
The term "Palestrina style" refers to the church acapella music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. The Palestrina style was based on principles derived from imitation, counterpoint, melody, consonance and dissonance.
In the early 17th century the Palestrina style was already known as "old style". It was the basis for the school of Rome.
the conservative musicians of that school rejected the style and forms of their modern, Baroque era (aria, recitative, oratorio, opera, cantata, Toccata, etc.) They were devoted themselves to music composition according to the earlier vocal style of Palestrina period. (liturgies, motets, requiem, chants, etc.)
Venetian polychoral style had been incorporated into Roman style . G.M Ninino (1545-
The style of Palestrina revived and even later, in the 19th century. Caecilian movement took its name from St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians and church music. The aim of the movement was to restore the well known Palestrina style. Representatives of that movement believed that the "splurging" music that was produced in the 18th century, written for choir and musical instruments, with secular characteristics, should be replaced by the a cappella music of Palestrina style.
Today the Palestrina style is very important in regard with the study of counterpoint.