The polyphonic Missa pro defunctis in Lisbon (c.1590-1648), and new links with early Franco-Flemish polyphonic requiems in the music of Magalhães

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The polyphonic Missa pro defunctis in the Iberian Peninsula clearly had a long evolution, reaching its zenith, perhaps, in the settings of Victoria and early to mid 17th-century Portuguese composers Cardoso, Lobo and Magalhães. However, what survives from this later period in the printed music books of the early 17th century is clearly just a sample of grand-scale settings composed around that time, a representative number of which were indexed in the famous catalogue of John IV’s music library (1649). The majority of these would have been composed for the obsequies (funeral masses) of royalty, nobility or dignitaries; however, with very few exceptions, such as Victoria’s 6- voice Requiem, the precise occasions for which these grand settings were written are not now known. Nonetheless, by this later period, each new mass would probably have resulted from a particular response or challenge: to write a work that was both appropriate for the occasion (and based on standard procedure) and a new personal expression, right from ‘dona eis’, the opening polyphonic phrase of the Introit in Iberian settings. For example, Cardoso's six-voice setting (1625) opens with unexpected dramatic gestures partly resulting from recasting earlier settings, including those by Spanish composers. Magalhães's Requiem (1636) shows several close relationships with Cardoso's; yet, close analysis of parts of it—including especially the Introit—reveals that it was also indebted to a much earlier repertory of northern European settings of which at least one was probably heard at the obsequies of Philip II of Spain in Madrid (1598). This paper considers aspects of the evolution of the later Requiem mass in Portugal, focussing on Magalhães’s unique contribution, his debt to northern influences, and whether indeed its thematic origins has a bearing on the intention of his setting.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventVIII ENIM: Encontro de Investigação em Música - Escola Superior de Educação do Porto, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 8 Nov 201810 Nov 2018
Conference number: VIII


ConferenceVIII ENIM
Abbreviated titleENIM
Internet address


  • Polyphonic Missa
  • pro defunctis
  • 1590-1648
  • Lisbon


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