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Three Motets

Three Motets


Arr. Olson, Gary


  • Ensemble: Brass Quartet
  • Genre: Motet
  • Grade: 3
  • Duration: 7.0 minutes
  • Catalog Number: DB-CAN0124

  1. O vos omnes - Tomás Luis de Victoria
  2. Vere languores - Tomás Luis de Victoria
  3. Response Marc'Antonio Ingegneri

The three motets presented in this edition are prime examples of the “Roman School” of Sixteenth Century composition. The two most prominent members of this school were G.P. da Palestrina and Tomas Luis de Victoria. Although their music was in many ways similar, their lives and personalities were quite different. Victoria was a priest whose entire life was devoted to the Catholic Church. Palestrina, currently the best known of the two, considered the priesthood on only one occasion, while in the depths of despair. He “soon changed his mind, married a wealthy widow instead, and embarked upon a lucrative business career as a dealer in furs with real estate as a profitable sideline.”

More is known about Victoria’s biography and genealogy than is known about most early composers whose works have been published by Canzona Publications. His family included prominent bankers, lawyers, and priests. His father, Francisco Luis de Victoria, died when Tomas was nine years old, orphaning ten children. Juan Luis de Victoria, an uncle who entered the priesthood at an early age, supervised the upbringing of the children. Tomas began his musical education in 1558 at the Cathedral in Avila. In exchange for his services as a choir boy, he was carefully schooled in polyphony and counterpoint and given free room and board. He undoubtedly began his organ study at this time. The Avila Cathedral was an important one in Sixteenth Century Spain. There Tomas was exposed to the prominent church musicians of the day.

In 1565, Victoria began a three-year enrollment at the Collegium Germanicum in Rome, an institution founded by Loyola in 1552 to train missionaries to win back Germany from the Protestants. The missionary students were greatly outnumbered by paying boarders, such as Victoria. During this time, Victoria met G.P. de Palestrina who was serving as Maestro de Capella at the Collegium Romanum to pay his son’s tuition. After leaving the Collegium Germanicum, Victoria became a successful church musician, serving as musical director of the Church of S. Maria de Monserrati before returning as an instructor in plainsong (drillmaster in Gregorian Chant) in 1571. In 1573, he succeeded Palestrina as Chapel Master of the Collegium Romanum. In 1575, when the Collegium Germanicum was associated with the Church of S. Appollinare, Victoria became Chapel Master of that church on a full-time basis and developed an impressive choral program. He advanced through the lesser orders of the church (lector, exorcist, sub-deacon, and deacon) and on August 28, 1575 was ordained a priest. After ordination he joined the newly founded religious community, the Congregation of the Oratory. This unusual group neither maintained its communicants nor expected them to relinquish their property to the community on entrance. Victoria served from 1578 to 1585 as an essentially unpaid Chaplain at the church of S. Girolamo della Carita and drew his support from absentee Spanish benefices.

In 1587, he returned to Spain to the Royal Convent of Barefoot Clarist Nuns in Madrid. There he served as Chapel Master to the Dowager Empress Maria. Important privileges were associated with this position. Here, Victoria could enjoy the luxurious appointments of the Royal Convent and was given a freedom of movement which would have been impossible had he been attached to any of the major Spanish cathedrals. Following Maria’s death in 1604, Victoria went into semi-retirement, serving as convent organist until his death on August 27, 1611. During the latter part of his life, sale of publications and absentee benefices produced for him a higher income than could have been provided even by the wealthy and musically important Cathedrals at Toledo and Seville.

This work is part of our Denver Brass Signature Series.

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