The greatest Spanish composer of the Renaissance

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Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) is known as the greatest Spanish composer of the Renaissance. He composed all his sacred music in Latin – 20 Masses, 52 motets and many other liturgical pieces – many of which show the beauty and subtlety of Palestrina, with whom he may have studied in Rome. He did attend Palestrina’s funeral in 1594.

He began studying for the priesthood in Rome in 1565 being ordained in 1575 and wrote his first requiem mass in 1583. He worked in many Italian churches before returning to Spain in 1587 to serve Empress Maria, widow of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian II, as choirmaster and organist at the convent in Madrid. He was supported by many wealthy patrons throughout his life and was therefore able to publish his works in many distinguished editions, some being performed as far away as Mexico.

HIs two most famous works were Requiem and Tenebrae Responsories and he also wrote Officium defunctorum  for the funeral of Empress Maria. The prevailing mood of his music was very positive, even though there is a mysticism and poignancy that underpins his work.

He may not be someone you have ever heard of but he made a significant contribution to Renaissance music and for that I pay him tribute.

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