Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was a renowned Italian composer of the late Renaissance era. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of this period, and a large part of his career was based in Rome.
Born around 1525 or 1526 in Palestrina, a small city near Rome, he started to make a name for himself as a music instructor and organist at Santo Agapito in 1544. In 1551, he was appointed as magister cantorum at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by Pope Julius III. During his tenure there, Palestrina wrote some of the most iconic compositions of the era, including 104 masses and 450 other sacred works.
During the Counter-Reformation of the late 16th century, Pope Pius V was determined to reform the music of the Roman Catholic Church. Palestrina’s works, such as the Masses, played a major part in achieving the goal of restoring the canonical liturgy. Consequently, he is often referred to as the ‘Savior of Church Music’.
Palestrina’s music has been the subject of much scholarly research and study, and is still performed in churches and concert halls around the world. He helped to define the polyphonic style of writing for choirs and established a sonic standard for 16th-century music. The influence of his works can be heard in the works of composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johannes Brahms.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina died in Rome in 1594, leaving behind a lasting legacy that is still respected and celebrated by musicians, scholars and music lovers alike.