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Mater Dolorosa by Carlo Dolci (25 May 1616 – 17 January 1686) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 

The Marian Antiphons

The Marian year has its seasons and each season has its antiphon. There are four antiphons, one for each Marian season. Antiphons, sometimes called antiphonies, are a call and response hymn. (See Posts on Marian Hymnology.)

Marian antiphonies are:

Last week, on Good Friday, the seasonal Marian antiphon became the Regina Cæli. It had been the Ave Regina Cælorum, which ends on Good Friday. Good Friday, or ‘holy’ Friday, is the day that commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Christ, in whose name Christianity was founded.

As you may know, the growth of polyphony, music combining several voices, is linked to Sacred Music mainly. During the Middle Ages, the Church was the main patron of composers. Most composers therefore became Kappelmeisters. It was their profession.

However, composers such as Italian Luca Marenzio (18 October 1553 or 1554 – 22, August 1599) wrote madrigals, secular music. Marenzio worked for Italian aristocratic families: the Gonzaga, the Este, and the Medici. Madrigals became the leading genre during the Renaissance and could be called the secular birthplace of polyphony. The largely courtly madrigal was rooted in the medieval song or chanson. Trouvères (northern France), troubadours[1] (southern France), and Minnesingers (German-speaking lands) wrote and sang chansons.

Piazza San Marco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Piazza San Marco, Venice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Renaissance

The Renaissance began with the collapse of the Byzantine Empire (Greek), or Eastern Roman EmpireConstantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks on 29 May 1453 and its Greek scholars fled to Italy. The Ottoman Empire’s Sultanate collapsed on 1 November 1922 and its Caliphate was abolished on 3 March 1924. (See The Last Crusades: the Ottoman Empire.) Constantinople became Istanbul in 1929 and is the largest city in Turkey. The arrival in Italy of Greek scholars escaping the Ottoman Turks would change western Europe profoundly. It ushered in a renaissance (rebirth).

San Marco, or St. Mark’s Basilica, reflects the influence of the Byzantine Empire, the empire that preceded the Ottoman Empire. (See Constantine the Great, Wikipedia.)[2] However, the Venetian School of music was founded by Adrian Willaert of the Franco-Flemish school. (See Venetian polychoral style, Wikipedia)

In 1527, Netherlandish composer Adrian Willaert (c. 1490 – 7 December 1562)travelled to Venice, where he had been appointed maestro di cappella at San Marco and taught music. At St. Mark’s Basilica, he had the best of facilities and remained its maestro di cappella until his death in 1552.

Music for Easter

Two years ago, I posted an article entitled Music for Easter (31 March 2013). That post featured the Regina Cæli, the Easter season’s antiphon. If you wish to listen to Michel Richard de Lalande‘s Regina Cæli, please click on Music for Easter. Music for Easter is a short post also featuring, as does this post, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi‘s (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736) “Quando corpus morietur.” Pergolesi died at the age of 26, but had already composed several mature works. I love Pergolesi. His “Quando corpus morietur” is inspired music.

Giovanni Legrenzi

Giovanni Legrenzi[3] (baptized 12 August 1626 – 27 May 1690) was a 17th-century Italian composer. By the 17th century, western Europe had entered its Baroque period (1600 – 1750) and composers had started to write operas. However, Legrenzi was first employed as organist at Santa Maria Maggiore, in Bergamo, Italy. In the mid 1650’s, he was maestro di cappella at the Academy of the Holy Spirit in Ferrara. Later, he settled in Venice where he lived comfortably and was named maestro di cappella at San Marco, Venice’s splendid Basilica. In other words, the Church had remained an important employer of musicians.

Both Giovanni Legrenzi and Michel Richard de Lalande were active at the height of the Ottoman Empire, the period when turquerie was fashionable, but it should be noted that polyphonic music is entirely a product of the Graeco-Roman civilization.


Sources and Resources

Ave, Regína cælórum
Ave, Dómina Angelórum,
Sálve rádix, sálve, pórta,
Ex qua múndo lux est órta.
Gáude, Vírgo gloriósa,
Super ómnes speciósa ;
Vále, o valde decóra
Et pro nóbis Christum exóra.

Hail, Queen of the Heavens!
Hail, ruler of the angels!
Hail, root of Jesse! Hail, portal from whom light has shone to the world!
Hail, Virgin most glorious,
Beautiful above all!
Farewell, O most comely,
And pray to Christ for us.
(Courtesy of Notre-Dame de Paris)


Madonna by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post was published mistakenly a few minutes after I started writing it. The “publish” button is next to the “save draft” button. This morning, I realized that my image of San Marco was missing. I decided to insert it, but pressed on the “draft”  button instead of the “pending review” button. The post is now dated 5 April 2015.

Wishing all to you a Happy Easter.♥

[1] Troubadours sang in langue d’oc and trouvères in langue d’oïl.

[2] Constantine I was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. He founded the Christian Church, as an institution, at the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE) and the Council of Nicaea and Constantinople, in 381 CE. The Nicene Creed dates back to these two councils.

[3] “Giovanni Legrenzi”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 04 avr.. 2015

Ave Regina Cælorum
Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor) and Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto)

Pergolesi’s Quando corpus morietur 

tumblr_mgsy17srBd1qipl8zo1_500© Micheline Walker
4 April 2015
(revised on 5 April 2015)

Mater Dolorosa (detail, ca. 1485) attributed to Simon Marmion (Photo credit: rebloggy.com)