Victoria, Tomás Luis de (1548–1611)

views updated Jun 27 2018


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 .


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

Victoria, Tomás Luis de

views updated Jun 11 2018


Leading composer of the Spanish polyphonic school;b. Ávila, c. 1548; d. Madrid, Aug. 27, 1611. The composer's parents were Francisco Luis de Victoria and Francisca Suárez de la Concha of Segovia, and he was the seventh of their ten children who survived to maturity. When Tomás was only nine his father died, leaving the family to the guardianship of the boy's uncle, Juan Luis de Victoria, a priest in Ávila Diocese. Tomás received his first music instruction as a choirboy in the local cathedral, whose chapelmasters during the period were Gerónimo de Espinar (155058), Bernardino de Ribera (155963), and Juan Navarro, the last two reckoned as among the finest composers of 16th-century Spain. In 1565 Victoria enrolled for three years at the Jesuit Collegium Germanicum in Rome, whose principal benefactors were Philip II of Spain and Otto Cardinal truchsess von waldburg, Archbishop of Augsburg. Truchsess early singled out Victoria for his special protection, and the supremely beautiful Motecta (Venice 1572), Victoria's first publication, were dedicated to Truchess.

From early 1569 until 1574 Victoria served as singer and organist in the Aragonese church of S. Maria di Monserrato, and from 1573 through 1582 he sang occasionally at the other Spanish church in Rome, S. Giacomo degli Spagnoli. In 1571 the Collegium Germanicum hired him as music instructor, and two years later he became maestro di cappella of the nearby Roman Seminary, a post

occupied up to Sept. 25, 1571, by palestrina, with whom Victoria had perhaps studied. After Gregory XIII gave the Collegium Germanicum new quarters in the jubilee year 1575, Victoria served simultaneously as moderator musicae of the college and chapelmaster of the college church, S. Apollinare. On March 6 and 13, 1575, Victoria received minor orders in the English church, St. Thomas of Canterbury, at the hands of Thomas Goldwell, exiled bishop of St. Asaph, who ordained him deacon and priest on August 25 and 28 of that same year. On June 8, 1578, he became a chaplain at S. Girolamo della Carità, seat of the new Congregation of the Oratory (see oratorians). For the next several years, while in close association with (St.) Philip neri, he published in lavish folio his Cantica B. Virginis (1581); Hymni totius anni (1581, dedicated to Gregory XIII); Missarum Libri Duo (1583, dedicated to Philip II); and in 1585 his sublime Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae and Motecta Festorum Totius Anni.

Again in Spain, from 1587 until her death in 1603, he was chaplain to the Dowager Empress Maria (who was living in retirement with her daughter Margaret at the Royal Convent of Discalced Clarist Nuns in Madrid). He also directed the priests' and boys' choir attached to the convent, and from 1604 to 1611 served by choice as convent organist. In 1592 he was in Rome to superintend publication of another folioMissae quatuor, quinque, sex et octo vocibus. In Madrid (1600) he published in separate part-books a miscellany of Masses, Magnificats, motets, and psalms that look forward to the baroque with their frequent polychoralism, their organ scoring, and the pulsating intensity of such inclusions as the Missa pro victoria (nine voice-parts). To commemorate Empress Maria's death he published an Officium Defunctorum (1605), which returns to the unaccompanied Renaissance ideal.

By comparison with that of Palestrina or Lasso, Victoria's output of 180 compositions is small. Yet he has endeared himself to all posterity with his mystical fervor and the nobility of his musical concepts. Fortunate in his early contacts with German and English students who took his works home with them, he has inspired unending admiration in countries where Spanish music is otherwise unknown or ignored. Several spurious works have been repeatedly published as his (e.g., Jesu dulcis memoria, Missa dominicalis ).

Bibliography: Opera omnia, ed. f. pedrell, 8 v. (Leipzig 190213). f. pedrell, Tomás Luis de Victoria (Valencia 1918), a separate biog. and bibliog. study extracted from the above. r. m. stevenson, Spanish Cathedral Music in the Golden Age (Berkeley 1961); Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) v. 13. r. casimiri, "Il Vittoria: Nuovi documenti," Note d'archivio, 11.2 (1934) 111197. f. hernÁndez, "La cuna y la escuela de Tomás L. de Victoria," Ritmo 11.141 (1940) 27. j. pena, Diccionario de la música Labor, ed. h. anglÈs, 2 v. (Barcelona 1954) 2:221824. Enciclopedia universal ilustrada Europeo-Americana, 70 v. (Barcelona 190830; suppl. 1934) 68:622628. e. c. cramer, The Officium hebdomadae sanctae of Tomás Luis de Victoria: A Study of Selected Aspects and an Edition and Commentary (Ph.D. diss. Boston University 1973). n. o'regan, "Victoria, Soto, and the Spanish Archconfraternity of the Resurrection in Rome," Early Music 22 (1994) 279295; "Tomás Luis de Victoria's Roman Churches Revisited," Early Music 28 (2000) 403418. r. stevenson, "Tomás Luis de Victoria," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 19 (New York 1980) 703709. j. v. gonzÁlez valle, "Recepción del Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae de T. L. de Victoria y edición de F. Pedrell," Recerca Musicológica 11/12 (1991/92) 133155. l. wojcicka-hruza, "A Manuscript Source for Magnificats by Victoria," Early Music 25 (1997) 8398.

[r. m. stevenson]

Victoria, Tomás Luis de

views updated May 17 2018

Victoria, Tomás Luis de

Victoria, Tomás Luis de, great Spanish organist and composer; b. Avila, 1548; d. Madrid, Aug. 20,1611. He was a choirboy at Avila Cathedral. In 1565 he went to Rome and entered the Jesuit Collegium Germanicum to prepare himself for the priesthood; his teacher may have been Palestrina, who from 1566 to 1571 was music master at the Roman Seminary, at this time amalgamated with the Collegium Germanicum. Victoria was about the same age as Palestrina’s two sons, Rodolfo and Angelo, who were students at the Roman Seminary; the Italian master is known to have befriended his young Spanish colleague, and when Palestrina left the Seminary in 1571, it was Victoria who succeeded him as maestro there. In 1569 Victoria had left the Collegium Germanicum to become singer and organist in the Church of Sta. Maria di Montserrato, posts he held until 1564; from this time on he also officiated frequently at musical ceremonies in the Church of S. Giaccomo degli Spagnuoli. He taught music at the Collegium Germanicum from 1571, becoming its maestro di cappella in 1573; it moved to the Palazzo di S. Apollinaire in 1574 and to the adjoining church in 1576, where he remained as maestro di cappella until 1577. In Aug. 1575 he was ordained a priest. In Jan. of that year he had received a benefice at Leon from the Pope, and in 1579 he was granted another benefice at Zamora, neither requiring residence. In 1577 he joined the Congregazione dei Preti dell’Oratorio; served as chaplain at the Church of S. Girolamo della Carità from 1578 until 1585; this was the church where St. Philip Neri held his famous religious meetings, which led to the founding of the Congregation of the Oratory in 1575. Though Victoria was not a member of the Oratory, he must have taken some part in its important musical activities, living as he did for five years under the same roof with its founder (St. Philip left S. Girolamo in 1583); Victoria is known to have been on terms of the closest friendship with Juvenal Ancina, a priest of the Oratory who wrote texts for many of the “Laudi spirituali” sung at the meetings of the Congregation. Victoria served as chaplain to the King’s sister, the Dowager Empress Maria, at the Monasterio de las Descalzas in Madrid from at least 1587 until her death in 1603; also was maestro of its convent choir until 1604, and then was its organist until his death. His last work, a Requiem Mass for the Empress Maria, regarded as his masterpiece, was publ. in 1605.

Beginning with a vol. of motets in 1572, dedicated to his chief patron, Cardinal Otto Truchsess, Bishop of Augsburg, most of Victoria’s works were printed in Italy, in sumptuous eds., showing that he had the backing of wealthy patrons. A vol. of masses, Magnificats, motets, and other church music publ. at Madrid in 1600 is of special interest because it makes provision for an organ accompaniment.

A man of deep religious sentiment, Victoria expresses in his music all the ardor and exaltation of Spanish mysticism. He is generally regarded as a leading representative of the Roman School, but it should be remembered that, before the appearance of Palestrina, this school was already profoundly marked by Hispanic influences through the work of Morales, Guerrero, Escobedo, and other Spanish composers resident in Rome. Thus Victoria inherited at least as much from his own countrymen as from Palestrina, and in its dramatic intensity, its rhythmic variety, its tragic grandeur and spiritual fervor, his music is thoroughly personal and thoroughly Spanish. See F. Pedrell, ed., Tomas Luis de Victoria: Opera omnia (eight vols., Leipzig, 1902-13) and H. Angles, ed., Tomas Luis de Victoria: Opera omnia,Monumentos de la Música Española, XXV, XXVI, XXX, and XXXI (1965-68).


(all publ. in Rome unless otherwise given): (33) Motectafor 4 to 6 and 8 Voices (Venice, 1572); Liber primus: qui missas, psaltnos, Magnificat...aliaque complectiturfor 4 to 6 and 8 Voices (Venice, 1576); Cantica beatae virginis vulgo Magnificat, una cum 4 antiphonis beatae virginis per annumfor 4 to 5 and 8 Voices (1581); (32) Hymni totius anni secundum sanctae romanae ecclesiae consuetudinemfor 4 Voices, una cum 4 psalmis, pro praecipuis festivitatibusfor 8 Voices (1581; 2nded., 1600); (9) Missarum libri duofor 4 to 6 Voices (1583); (53) Motectafor 4 to 6, 8, and 12 Voices (1583; 2nded., 1589; 3rded., rev. 1603); (37) Motecta festorum totius anni cum communi sanctorumfor 4 to 6 and 8 Voices (1585); (37) Officium Hebdomadae Sanctaefor 3 to 8 Voices (1585); (7) Missae, una cum antiphonis Asperrges, et Vidi aquam totius anni: liber secundusfor 4 to 6 and 8 Voices (1592); (32) Missae, Magnificat, motecta, psalmi et alia quam plurimafor 3 to 4, 8 to 9, and 12 Voices (Madrid, 1600); Officium defunctorum: in obitu et obsequiis sacrae imperatricisfor 6 Voices (Madrid, 1605).


H. Collet, V.(Paris, 1914); F. Pedrell, T.L. d.V. Abulense (Valencia, 1918); W. Hirschl, The Styles of V. and Palestrina: A Comparative Study, with Special Reference to Dissonance Treatment (diss., Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, 1933); E. Young, The Contrapuntal Practices of V. (diss., Univ. of Rochester, N.Y., 1942); H. von May, Die Kompositions-Technik TL. d.V.s (Bern, 1943); N. Saxton, The Masses of V. (diss., Westminster Choir Coll., Princeton, N.J., 1951); T. Rive, An Investigation into Harmonic and Cadential Procedures in the Works of T.L. d.V., 1548-1611 (diss., Univ. of Auckland, 1963); J. Kriewald, The Contrapuntal and Harmonic Style of T.L. d. V. (diss., Univ. of Wise, 1968); J. Soler, V (Barcelona, 1983); E. Cramer, T.L. d. V: A Guide to Research (Levittown, N.Y., 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Tomás Luis de Victoria

views updated May 18 2018

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. □

Victoria, Tomás Luis de

views updated Jun 11 2018

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).