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Polyphony is saved. :)

The mass was composed in honor of Pope Marcellus II, who reigned for three weeks in 1555. Recent scholarship suggests the most likely date of composition is 1562, when it was copied into a manuscript at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.[4]

The third and closing sessions of the Council of Trent were held in 1562–63, at which the use of polyphonic music in the Catholic Church was discussed. Concerns were raised over two problems: first, the use of music that was objectionable, such as secular songs provided with religious lyrics (contrafacta) or masses based on songs with lyrics about drinking or lovemaking; and second, whether imitation in polyphonic music obscured the words of the mass, interfering with the listener’s devotion. Some debate occurred over whether polyphony should be banned outright in worship, and some of the auxiliary publications by attendants of the Council caution against both of these problems. However, none of the official proclamations from the Council mentions polyphonic music, excepting one injunction against the use of music that is, in the words of the Council, “lascivious or impure”.[6]

Starting in the late 16th century, a legend began that the second of these points, the threat that polyphony might have been banned by the Council because of the unintelligibility of the words, was the impetus behind Palestrina’s composition of this mass. It was believed that the simple, declamatory style of Missa Papae Marcelli convinced Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, on hearing, that polyphony could be intelligible, and that music such as Palestrina’s was all too beautiful to ban from the Church. In 1607, the composer Agostino Agazzari wrote:

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.
— Quoted in Taruskin, Richard, and Weiss, Piero. Music in the Western World:A History in Documents. Schirmer, 1984, p. 141.

Jesuit musicians of the 17th century maintained this rumor, and it made its way into music history books into the 19th century, when historian Giuseppe Baini, in his 1828 biography of Palestrina, couched him as the “savior of polyphony” from a council wishing to wipe it out entirely:

On Saturday, 28 April 1565, by order of Cardinal Vitellozzi, all the singers of the papal chapel were gathered together at his residence. Cardinal Borromeo was already there, together with all the other six cardinals of the papal commission. Palestrina was there as well…they sang three Masses, of which the Pope Marcellus Mass was the last…The greatest and most incessant praise was given to the third, which was extraordinarily acclaimed and, by virtue of its entirely novel character, astonished even the performers themselves. Their Eminences heaped their congratulations on the composer, recommending to him to go on writing in that style and to communicate it to his pupils.
— Quoted in Taruskin, Richard, and Weiss, Piero. Music in the Western World:A History in Documents. Schirmer, 1984, p. 142.

Around 250 organ works by Bach have been handed down, the most intriguing of which are works thought to have originated early on, but of which there is no surviving autograph. The speculations of Bach researchers all boil down to a single question: how early on can we determine signs of genius in his work?

In the Passacaglia in C minor, in any case, his genius is as clear as day. As a variation work, it surpasses anything Bach could have heard in his younger years. The ostinato, the repetitive bass line that forms the foundation of a passacaglia, is made up of eight bars, rather than the usual four. The work consists of twenty variations, rather than the usual five or six. And on top of its initial function, the bass line is then split up and treated as two separate themes that, accompanied by a third theme, form the material for an ingenious fugue.

The earliest copy of the Passacaglia was made between 1706 and 1713 by Bach’s elder brother Johann Christoph. In 1705, Bach paid an extended visit to Buxtehude, the man who undoubtedly had the greatest influence on his variation work, so it would be logical to conclude that Bach composed the Passacaglia shortly after returning from his journey.

Canadian Luc Beausejour’s rendition of BWV 582

Well, another week of firsts folks. My first foray into Karaoke was with Paul Simon and late in the evening. Funny how the difficulty goes up when you happen to be responsible for the rhythmical and lyrical production. A few stumbles, but I managed to stay in time and in tune. ;)

I was lying In my bed I couldn’t of been no more Than one or two

I remember there’s a radio Comin’ from the room next door And my mother laughed The way some ladies do

When it’s late in the evening And the music s seeping through

The next thing I remember I am walking down the street I’m feeling all right I’m with my boys I’m with my troops, yeah

And down along the avenue Some guys were shootin pool And I heard the sound Of a cappella groups, yeah

Singing late in the evening And all the girls out on the stoops, yeah

Then I learned to play some lead guitar I was underage In this funky bar And I stepped outside to smoke myself a “J”

And when I came back to the room Everybody just seemed to move And I turned my amp up loud and I began to play

And it was late in the evening And I blew that room away

The first thing I remember When you came into my life I said I’m gonna get that girl No matter what I do

Well I guess I’d been in love before And once or twice I been on the floor

But I never loved no one The way that I loved you

And it was late in the evening And all the music seeping through

It’s a rough road sometimes folks.  Celebrate the good times, accept the bad times the best you can.  Move forward, if you can.

 

 

“And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather”

 

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

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