Sacred polychoral music in Rome, 1575-1621
The object of this thesis is to lay open a repertory of music which has long been ignored, the music for two and more choirs composed by Roman composers of the generation of Palestrina and his immediate successors. Polychoral music is taken to mean music in which two or more independent and consistent groups of voices take part, singing separately and together; the parts should remain independent in tuttl sections, with the possible exception of the bass parts. By this definition, the first real polychoral music to be published in Rome was that by Giovanni P. da Palestrina in his Motettorum liber secundus of 1575. This is taken as the starting point for this study. Music which might have influenced Roman composers is examined, as well as eight-voice music by Roman composers which is not polychoral according to the above criteria. The development of polychoral music in the city is then traced through the reigns of the various popes from Gregory XIII to Paul V, whose death in 1621 is taken as a convenient place to end the study. Particular emphasis is laid on structural and textural aspects and the way these were adapted by successive composers. The ground for the Roman concerts to style was laid in the early experiments by composers such as Giovanni Animuccia, Palestrina and Tomas Luis de Victoria; this is traced through what is termed the 'fragmented' style of the last two decades of the sixteenth century to the full flowering of the large-scale concerts to motet after 1605. The music is studied in the context of the institutions for which it was written. The archives of these Institutions have been researched for information on performance practice, which is presented here. The broader cultural, social and religious background which spawned the idiom is also examined and polychoral music related both to the new propagandist attitude of church leaders from Gregory XIII onwards, and to a general expansion in musical activity in the city of Rome through the period under investigation. The various printed and manuscript sources for this music have been researched and the resulting catalogue of pieces by fifty or so composers who worked in the city is presented. A more detailed examination is carried out of the primary manuscript sources, from which valuable information on various aspects of the music can be obtained.