Victoria has long been regarded as the greatest Spanish Renaissance composer, despite being both less prolific and less versatile than many of his contemporaries: virtually his entire output, all of it Latin church music, is contained in only eleven volumes, all published in his lifetime. He began his musical life as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral, then moved to Rome to study at the Jesuit Collegio Germanico; he may have received tuition from Palestrina. He was made director of music at the Collegio in 1573, and was ordained priest in 1575. Despite growing European fame as a composer, he wanted to return to a quieter life in Spain, and in 1587 he accepted Philip II’s offer to become choirmaster and chaplain at the convent of Descalzas Reales in Madrid, where he remained until his death. O quam gloriosum
, one of the best-loved of Victoria’s compositions, was published in 1572 in his First Book of Motets
and reprinted a number of times. It was later used by Victoria as the basis of a mass setting, published in 1583. The text is proper to the Feast of All Saints (November 1st) when Christians remember the company of saints in heaven. Victoria matches the imagery of the text with flowing, transparent vocal lines which (unusually for the time) are not based on any pre-existing Gregorian chant but are freely composed.
from notes by Collegium Records © 2000