Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Victoria: Missa Vidi Speciosum

Palestrina: Hodie nata est beata virgo Maria

For our patronal festival we are celebrating with music by two giants of the choral repertoire. Missa Vidi Speciosum was written by the Spanish organist, composer and priest Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) and was based on his motet for the feast of the Assumption. It was published in 1592, twenty years after the youthful motet was first published. In this exuberant six part music he uses the choir almost as an orchestra; combining different parts to find contrasting colours.

There are many who think that Victoria was taught by  Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594); even if the lessons where not formal it is inconceivable that Victoria – and almost every composer since – was not influenced by Palestrina, the first great Italian composer. ‘Hodie nata est beata virgo Maria’ was motet written for the feast of the nativity of Our Lady and published in 1569. It is, like so many of Palestrina’s motets, a beautifully crafted piece of music. The unusual opening phrase, whose fifth note seemingly does not belong, is used to create a wonderful ambiguity as the music slips between a collection of seemingly distantly related keys.