Tomás Luis de Victoria

(1548 -1611)

Tomás Luis de Victoria

Spanish composer and organist. After serving as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral under the maestros de capilla Gerónimo de Espinar and Bernardino de Ribera, Victoria was sent to Rome around 1565 and entered the Jesuit Collegio Germanico; he met Palestrina, who was maestro di cappella at the nearby Seminario romano, and may well have studied with him; he may also have studied with Bartolome de Escobedo/ In 1569 he became a singer and organist at S. Maria di Montserrato, an Aragonese church in Rome; he also officiated at the Church of S. Giacomo degli Spagnuoli. The Collegio Germanico hired him in 1571 to teach music, and in 1575 he was appointed maestro di cappella there, a position he held until 1576 or 1577. Ordained a priest in 1575, he joined the Congregazione dei Preti dell'Oratorio, and in 1578 received a chaplaincy at S. Girolamo della Carità, which he held until 1585. During this time he published volumes of motets ( Motecta, 4-6 and 8 voices, Venice, 1572; Motecta, 4-6, 8, and 12 voices, Rome, 1583; Motecta festorum . . . , 4-6, 8 voices, Rome, 1585), Masses ( Liber primus: qui missas, psalmos, Magnificat... aliaque complectitur, 4-6 and 8 voices, Venice, 1576; Missarum libri duo, 4-6 voices, Rome, 1583), Magnificat settings ( Cantica beatae virginis vulgo Magnificat, una cum 4 antiphonis beatae virginis per annum, 4, 5, and 8 voices, Rome, 1581), and hymns ( Hymni totius anni secundum sanctae romanae ecclesiae consuetudinem, 4 voices, Rome, 1581), as well as music for Holy Week ( Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae, 3-8 voices, Rome, 1585). The five Spanish benefices conferred by Gregory XIII supplied much of his income.

In 1587 King Philip II of Spain appointed Victoria as chaplain to his sister, the Dowager Empress Maria, who lived in retirement with her daughter Princess Margarita at the Monasterio de las Descalzas de S. Clara at Madrid; the composer subsequently was aPpointed maestro of the convent choir and then served as organist until his death. In 1592 he went to Rome to supervise the printing of his Missae ... liber secundus; in 1600 a collection of polychoral Masses, Magnificat settings, motets, and Psalms was issued in Madrid entitled Missae, Magnificat, motecta, psalmi et alia quam plurima (3, 4, 8, 9, and 12 voices). The Officium defunctorum, in 6 voices (Madrid, 1605), was composed on the death of Empress Maria. That Victoria succeeded in publishing nearly his entire oeuvre during his lifetime, generally in sumptuous editions, makes clear that he had the support of wealthy patrons. He was the greatest Spanish composer of the Renaissance.

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A Partial Tomas Luis de Victoria Discography  |  IVL: The Spanish Masters