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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina The greatest composer of liturgical music of all time born at Palestrina ancient Praeneste in 1514 or 1515 according to Baini Riemann and others according to Haberl in 1526 died at Rome 2 February 1594 His early history is practically unknown Giusseppi Ottavia Pittoni 1657-1743 in notizie dei maestri di cappella si di Rome che altramontani 1600-1700 a manuscript in the Vatican relates that young Pierluigi sang in the streets of Rome while offering for sale the products of his parents farm and that he was heard on such an occasion by the choirmaster of Santa Maria Maggiore who impressed by the boys beautiful voice and pronounced musical talent educated him musically As to the identity of the choirmaster tradition gives no clue Some hold that Palestrina was taught by Jacques Arcadelt 1514-60 choirmaster and composer in Rome from 1539 to 1549 The opinion so long held that Claude Goudimel 1505-72 was his principal teacher has now been definitively abandoned As far as is known he began his active musical life as organist and choirmaster in his native city in 1544 his reputation increasing in 1551 he was called to Rome entrusted with the direction and musical formation of the choirboys at St Peters and within the same year was advanced to the post of choirmaster In 1554 he dedicated to Julius III 1549-55 his first compositions a volume of masses for four voices and was rewarded with the appointment as a member of the papal chapel in contravention of the rules governing that body The pope had set aside the rule requiring those who held membership in the papal choir to be in Holy Orders and also used his authority to exempt him from the usually severe entrance examination These circumstances and the further fact that his voice was much inferior to those of the other singers aroused the opposition and antagonism of his fellow-members The papal singers did not
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