Benevoli, Orazio

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Benevoli, Orazio

Benevoli, Orazio, Italian composer; b. Rome, April 19, 1605; d. there, June 17, 1672. He was the son of a French baker who Italianized his name when he settled in Rome. He studied with Vincenzo Ugolini and sang in the boy’s choir in the school “dei francesi” in Rome (1617–23); also had some instruction from Lorenzo Ratti. After completion of his studies he had successive posts as maestro di cappella, serving at S. Maria in Trastevere (1624–30), S. Spirito, Sassia(1630–38), and S. Luigi dei Francesi (1638–44). In 1644 he went to Vienna, where he served at the Court until 1646. He then returned to Rome as maestro di cappella at S. Maria Maggiore, and was also attached to the Vatican. His music shows influences of the Palestrina style, combined with polychoral techniques of the Venetians; some of his sacred works call for 12 separate choirs. A considerable controversy arose when some music historians attributed to Benevoli the composition of the Missa salisburgensis, containing 53 separate parts, which was cited as an example of Benevoli’s extraordinary contrapuntal skill. Such a Mass was indeed commissioned by Salzburg in 1628, but it was not composed by Benevoli; whoever wrote it, its performance did not take place until about 1682. This Mass and a hymn in 56 voices were reprinted in Denkmàler der Tonkunst in Ôsterre-ich; another Mass, which really was composed by Benevoli and was performed at the S. Maria sopra Minerva Church in Rome in 1650, is set for 12 choirs of four voices each.


L. Feininger, ed., O. B.: Opera omnia (Rome, 1966 et seq.).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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