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Victoria, Tomás Luis de (1548–1611)

VICTORIA, TOMÁS LUIS DE (15481611)

VICTORIA, TOMÁS LUIS DE (15481611), preeminent composer of the Spanish Renaissance. Rivaled only by Giovanni da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso among his European contemporaries, Victoria produced an important body of work that was widely distributed, often reprinted, and highly praised from his time to ours. He is not only the most famous of the sixteenth-century Spaniards such as Cristóbal de Morales and Francisco Guerrero, but is arguably the most famous Spanish composer of all time.

An apparently proud Ávilan, who appended his name with "Abulense" in his publications, Victoria received his early musical training as a choirboy at Ávila Cathedral under Gerónimo de Espinar and Bernardino de Ribera. He may have known the illustrious organist Antonio de Cabezón during his Ávilan residence. With the help of his patron Cardinal Otto von Truchess of Augsburg, he went to Rome to study music and theology at the Collegium Germanicum in 1565. Four years later, he took charge of music at the Aragonese Church of Santa Maria di Monserrato, and soon afterward he took up positions at the two Jesuit colleges: the Collegium Germanicum (1571) and the Collegium Romanum (1573, where he succeeded Palestrina, whom he knew and with whom he possibly studied), thus situating him at the intellectual and artistic heart of Jesuit activity during the height of the spiritual renewal sparked by the Council of Trent (15451563). His compositional and directorial activities in Rome and his association with Palestrina have led many historians to classify him as a "Roman School" composer, while others have emphasized his Spanish identity.

In 1572, Victoria published a collection of motets that would establish his fame, including "O magnum mysterium," "O vos omnes," and "Vere languores." His early motets were reprinted several times in his own lifetime. Ordained to the priesthood in 1575, he joined the Congregazione dei Preti dell'Oratorio (Congregation of the Oratory), and from 1578 to 1585 served as chaplain of S. Girolamo della Carità, where, free from the demands of a musical position and supported by lucrative Spanish benefices provided by Pope Gregory XII, he published several important collections of music while living in daily contact with Rome's great pastor, St. Philip Neri, for five years.

Victoria returned to Spain in 1587 to take up the position of chaplain to the Dowager Empress Maria at the Monasterio de las Descalzas de Santa Clara de la Cruz in Madrid, to which he was appointed by Philip II. He spent the rest of his life at the monastery, first as maestro di capilla and, after Maria's death in 1603, as organist. His return to his Castilian homeland saw him turn down prestigious positions at Spanish cathedrals in favor of his position at the royal monastery, where his music was performed by an expert choir and where he was allowed to oversee his publications abroad. He died in Madrid in 1611.

Victoria's reputation is based mostly on a somber collection of motets, a collection of music for Holy Week, and his Office for the Dead. These paint an unfairly morose picture of the composer whom some would regard as typically Spanish. His Masses paint a very different picture, being mostly based on motets with exultant texts. His cycle of sixteen Magnificats puts him in league with other Spaniards, such as Morales, Guerrero, and Alonso Lobo, who were unmatched in their attention to the Canticle of Mary. His Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae (Office of Holy Week) was the first of its kind, and the Passions of Saints Matthew and John it contained were in constant use by the papal chapel into modern times. It also included his well-known Lamentations of Jeremiah and eighteen responsories for Tenebrae.

Like Claudio Monteverdi, Victoria stands at the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the baroque period. His writing contains (indeed, exemplifies) much of the traditional church polyphony, consisting of several melodies that intertwine in a complex, harmonious web, but he also wrote simple psalm settings in the falsobordone style (such as Psalm 50 in the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae ) and polychoral works such as the Missa Pro Victoria (for double choir), which show the emergence of the baroque style with its emphasis on pitting parts of the ensemble against other parts. Beginning in 1600, he became the first significant composer to write independent keyboard accompaniments, anticipating the publications of the Venetian Giovanni Gabrieli by fifteen years. His later progressive compositions never achieved the fame of his early works, with the exception of the beloved Officium Defunctorum (Office of the dead, 1605), written upon the death of Empress Maria.

A genuinely religious man, Victoria wrote only sacred works. His output, while often understood as reflecting the mystical spirituality of El Greco and his fellow Ávilan St. Teresa de la Cruz, might be better understood in relation to the popular devotional spirituality of Neri and the Council of Trent's program of spiritual renewal, which was promoted with special zeal by the Jesuits who were responsible for his intellectual and musical formation.

See also Catholic Spirituality and Mysticism ; Jesuits ; Monteverdi, Claudio ; Music ; Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da ; Trent, Council of .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cramer, Eugene Casjen. "Some Elements of the Early Baroque in the Music of Victoria." In De Musica Hispana et Aliis. Vol 1, pp. 501538. Santiago de Compostela, 1990.

. Studies in the Music of Tomás Luis de Victoria. Aldershot, U.K., 2001.

Stevenson, Robert. Spanish Cathedral Music in the Golden Age. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1961.

Lee Matthew Escandon

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"Victoria, Tomás Luis de (1548–1611)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Tomás Luis de Victoria

Tomás Luis de Victoria

Tomás Luis de Victoria (ca. 1548-1611) was the most renowned Spanish Renaissance polyphonist. His works are characterized by mystical fervor and nobility of musical concepts.

Tomás Luis de Victoria was the seventh child of 11 born in Ávila to Francisco Luis de Victoria and Francisca Suárez de la Concha. His father's death in 1557 left the family in the care of an uncle who was a priest. Victoria spent several years as a choirboy in Ávila Cathedral.

In 1565 (or 1563) Victoria entered the German College at Rome. This was a Jesuit school lavishly supported by Philip II and Otto von Truchsess von Waldburg, the cardinal archbishop of Augsburg. Victoria served as organist at the Aragonese church of S. Maria di Monserrato in Rome from 1569 to 1574. In 1571 the German College hired him to teach music to the young boys. He was ordained on Aug. 28, 1575. From that year to 1577 he directed the German College choir singing at the church of S. Apollinare in Rome; from 1578 to 1585 he held a chaplaincy at S. Girolamo della Carità, the church of the newly founded Oratorians at Rome.

Victoria returned to Spain in 1587 and until 1603 served as chapelmaster of the Descalzas Reales convent in Madrid, where Philip II's sister, the Dowager Empress Maria, and her daughter, Princess Margaret, resided. From 1604 until his death on Aug. 27, 1611, he was also the organist at the convent.

In 1572 Victoria dedicated his first, and still most famous, publication to Cardinal Truchsess, a great connoisseur of church music. The 33 motecta ranging from four to eight voices in this collection include the sensuous Vere languores and O vos omnes, which to this day form the bedrock of Victoria's reputation with the broad public that knows nothing of his Magnificats, hymns, sequences, psalms, antiphons, and 20 Masses—five of which appeared in 1576, four more in 1583, seven in 1592, and the rest in 1600 and 1605.

In his 1572 motets Victoria closely followed the detail technique of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, evincing a commanding mastery of Palestrina's dissonance treatment. Personal contact with Palestrina and perhaps even lessons probably explain Victoria's absorption of the technique. From 1566 to 1571 Palestrina served as chapelmaster at the Roman College near the German College. What distinguishes Victoria's personal manner in 1572 from Palestrina's is the younger composer's frequent recourse to printed accidentals, his fondness for what would now be called melodic minor motion (sharps ascending, naturals descending), and the anticipation of 19th-century functional harmony.

Throughout his career, even when writing Missa Quarti toni (1592), Victoria always succeeded in sounding like a "major-minor" rather than a truly "modal" composer. For him Quarti toni meant A minor cadencing on the dominant. In 1600 he published Missae, Magnificat, motecta, psalmi, & alia, which consists very largely of organ-accompanied F-major music. True, he reverted to unaccompanied minor keys in the Officium defunctorum, published in 1605 as a tribute to his patroness, the Dowager Empress Maria, but this was funeral music. In none of Palestrina's publications did he specify organ accompaniments. Victoria did—even publishing organ parts in 1592 and 1600.

Victoria's miscellany of 1600 includes a Missa pro Victoria modeled on Clément Janequin's famous battle chanson. Philip III liked this ebullient nine-voice Mass founded on a secular model more than any of Victoria's other works, but it contravenes every quality endearing Victoria to his modern public. However, it does at least prove him to have been more versatile emotionally and technically than his admirers will admit. Philip III's partiality for it served as a sales gambit when Victoria sought funds from its publication to bail his youngest brother out of prison.

Further Reading

A biography of Victoria is sketched in Robert Stevenson, Spanish Cathedral Music in the Golden Age (1961). For historical background see the New Oxford History of Music, vol. 4: The Age of Humanism, 1540-1630 (1968), chapter 7. □

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Victoria, Tomás Luis de

Victoria, Tomás Luis de (b Avila, c.1548; d Madrid, 1611). Sp. composer. Went to Rome 1565 as student for priesthood (ordained 1575) and was possibly a pupil of Palestrina. Org. and choirmaster S. Maria di Monserrato, Rome, 1569–71; choirmaster Collegium Romanum 1571–3, Collegium Germanicum 1573–8. Chaplain at Church of S. Girolamo della Carità 1578–85, working with S. Philip Neri, founder of oratorio. Returned to Spain 1595. (Because of long residence in It., name is often spelt in It. form, Vittoria.) Organist and choirmaster, convent of Descalzas Reales, Madrid, 1596–1611. With Palestrina, regarded as one of supreme contrapuntists of his age, his mus. having a dramatic vigour and colour which reflect his nationality. Wrote only church mus., incl. settings of all hymns of RC liturgical year. Works pubd. in complete modern edn. by Pedrell (Leipzig 1902–13). The 8 vols. comprise: I, 44 motets; II, 10 Masses; III, 18 Magnificats and a Nunc Dimittis; IV, 5 Masses; V, 34 hymns and Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae; VI, 5 Masses; VII, 10 psalms, 10 settings of Marian antiphons, 3 other works; VIII, Biography, bibliography, and 5 other works. Among greatest works are motets Vexilla regis, O magnum mysterium, O quam gloriosum, O vos omnes; Requiem (1583 and 1603).

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Victoria, Tomás Luis de

Tomás Luis de Victoria (tōmäs´ lōōēs´ dā vēktō´ryä), c.1548–1611, Spanish composer. He went to Rome in 1565 to study for the priesthood at the German Jesuit College. In 1571 he became music master of the Collegium Romanum, succeeding Palestrina, who may have been his teacher. Mutual influence is evident in their works. In 1578, Victoria gave up the position he had held since 1573 as music master at the Collegium Germanicum to become a resident priest at the Church of San Girolamo. All of Victoria's known compositions are religious. His first book of motets (1572) contains the well-known O quam gloriosum and O vos omnes. He also composed masses, canticles, settings of all the hymns for the church year (1581), and two settings of the biblical accounts of the Passion. His polyphonic technique, equal to any in the Renaissance, expresses a passionate mysticism that is essentially Spanish. In 1587 he returned to Spain to be chaplain and choirmaster to Empress Mary (wife of Emperor Maximilian II), in whose memory he composed his last and greatest work, Officium defunctorum (pub. 1605).

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