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Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da (1525/6-1594)

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

born: 1525/6
died: 2 February 1594
country: Italy

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina is thought to have been born in 1525 in the town of that name in the Sabine hills near Rome, and he died in Rome on 2 February 1594. His first musical training seems to have been in Rome at S Maria Maggiore, where he was listed as a choirboy in October 1537. In October 1544 he was appointed organist at the Cathedral of S Agapito in Palestrina, where he remained until his appointment in 1551 as Maestro of the Cappella Giulia at St Peter’s in Rome. In 1554 Palestrina published his first book of masses, dedicated to Pope Julius III. In January 1555 he was admitted to the Cappella Sistina, the Pope’s official chapel, on the orders of the Pope, without examination and despite being married. Three months later Julius III died and was succeeded by Marcellus II, who in turn died within about three weeks. The next Pope, Paul IV, insisted on full compliance with the chapel’s rule on the celibacy of its members and Palestrina, who had married in 1547 during his stay at Palestrina, and two others were dismissed from the choir in September 1555. In the following month Palestrina was appointed Maestro di cappella at St John Lateran where he stayed until he left in 1560 following a dispute with the chapter over the financing of the musicians. His next known employment was again at S Maria Maggiore in 1564, where he passed the next five years combining this post with work for Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este. The latter work he continued on a more or less full-time basis until 1571, during which time he also taught music at the Seminario Romano. In April 1571 he took up his last appointment, returning to the post of Maestro of the Cappella Giulia, where he remained until his death.

from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003

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