Date of Award
Professor Charles Eugene Wesley
Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina, an Italian composer, was one of the greatest musical figures in the latter half of the sixteenth century, the "golden age" of church music. Giovanni Pierluigi was born in about 1525 at Praeneste (Palestrina). The name of the town has been added to his won family name, Pierluigi. Palestrina's fame as a composer rests mainly upon the incomparable liturgical works for unaccompanied voices--Masses, motets, hymns, and canticles--which he produced for the services of St. Peter's and other Roman basilicas. He wrote them in the polyphonic style which for centuries had dominated Europe as a kind of international musical language: the weaving together of melodic strands of tone, more or less of equal importance, according to the principle of alternating consonance and dissonance. Palestrina himself polished and perfected this polyphonic system to produce a new beauty and brilliance in his mature works--a smoothly melodious movement, a more refined harmony, and a subtle treatment of the voices, combining and contrasting them, thus producing a remarkable variety of effects that might almost be called "vocal orchestration."
Cowling, Shelby Earl, "Palestrina and His Rhythmic Style" (1969). Honors Theses. 578.