Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Quotes

Portrait painting of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Quotes

Composer Giovanni Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known of the Roman School of musical composition. He influenced the development of the church and secular music in Europe. in his lifetime he composed over 105 masses and 250 motets.

“I beg you to let me know how you prefer it: whether long or short or composed so that the words may be understood.”

“Worldy cares of any kind…are adverse to the Muses, and particularly those which arise from a lack of private means. For, when the latter afford a sufficiency (and to aks more is the mark of a greedy and intemperate man), the mind can more easily detach itself from other cares; if not, the fault lies within. Those who have known the necessity of laboring to provide this sufficiency, according to their station and way of life, know full well how it distracts the mind from learning and from a study of the liberal arts. Certainly, I have known this experience all my life, and more especially in the present (1588). Yet I thank the Divine Goodness, first, that the course is now almost finished, and the goal in sight; secondly, that in the midst of the greatest difficulties I have never interrupted my study of music. Dedicated to the profession since boyhood and other interest could I have had? Would that my progress has equaled my labor and my diligence! I have composed and published much; a great deal more is lying by me, which I am hindered from publishing because of the straitened means of which I have spoken.”

“He is the real king of sacred music and the eternal father of Italian music.”

-Giuseppe Verdi on Giovanni Pierluigi da Palastrina

 “Music of the older kind is no longer in use, both because of the confusion and babel of the words, arising from the long and intricate imitations, and because it has no grace, for with all the voices singing, one hears neither period nor sense, these being interfered with and covered up by imitations… And on this account music would have come very near to being banished from the Holy Church by a sovereign pontiff (Pius IV), had not Giovanni Palestrina founded the remedy, showing that the fault and error lay, not with the music, but with the composers, and composing in confirmation of this the Mass entitled Missa Papae Marcelli.

-Agostino Agazzari

“Here is a picture of the family of the great musician which does him infinite credit. In the midst of his own incessant work, he yet saw to it that his sons received the necessary education for taking up a good position in life. “Most excellent musician and player on all sorts of instruments” might be expected, but “a good logician and philosopher” suggests culture and refinement beyond the ordinary.”

-Zoe Kendrick Pyne, Palestrina: His Life and Times

“Giovanni da Palestrina died February 2 and was buried in our basilica… Wednesday on the 2nd. This morning Sig. Giovanni Pierloisci, the most excellent musician our colleague and master of the Chapel in St. Peter’s, passed from this life to a better one… at twenty-four hours he was borne to said church, accompanied not only by all the musicians of Rome but also by a multitude of people and, according to our custom, in accord with our constitution, we sang the responsory Libera me Domine…”

-Death announcement, author unknown

To read the full bio of composer Giovanni Palestrina, click this link.

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Richard J. Chandler, BA, MA Bachelor of Arts-Music & Master of Arts-Psychology