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About this collection

This collection of recordings contains examples of a body of Renaissance music that has essentially been forgotten. Renaissance vocal repertoire is traditionally classified as either liturgical (Latin for Catholic, vernacular for Protestant) or secular (vernacular settings like chansons, madrigals). This taxonomy omits a genre that elucidates patronage bonds and intellectual trends of this era: settings of secular Latin texts.

 

Secular Latin-texted works are often what Albert Dunning calls “staatsmotetten,” or “civic motets.” Dunning defines staatsmotteten as works composed for a particular state ceremony, in the official language of that state. These works leverage the sacred weight of Latin to add gravitas to music for events such as diplomatic visits and military victories. Five such pieces were included in a 1539 collection of Adrian Willaert’s five-voice motets.

 

Willaert was head of music at St. Mark’s in Venice (a position later held by Gabrieli and Monteverdi), and was regarded by contemporaries as an almost perfect composer, serving as a model in treatises by Zarlino and others. Willaert’s civic motets illuminate patronage ties that he maintained outside of Venice, sustaining connections with wealthy benefactors in Florence, Vienna, and Milan. They also serve as case studies of the intermingling of the sacred and the secular during the Renaissance.

 
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