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Gregorio Allegri

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Gregorio Allegri (1582–1652) was an Italian composer and priest of the Roman School of composers. He mainly lived in Rome, and died there.

He studied music under Giovanni Maria Nanini, the intimate friend of Palestrina. Being intended for the Church, he obtained a benefice in the cathedral of Fermo. Here he composed a large number of motets and other sacred music, which, being brought to the notice of Pope Urban VIII, obtained for him an appointment in the choir of the Sistine Chapel at Rome. He held this from December 1629 until his death. In character, he was regarded as singularly pure and benevolent.

Among the musical compositions of Allegri were two volumes of concerti for five voices, published in 1618 and 1619; two volumes of motets for six voices, published in 1621; an edition of four-part sinfonia; five masses, two settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, as well as numerous motets which were not published in his lifetime. He was one of the earliest composers for stringed instruments, and Athanasius Kircher has given one specimen of this class of his works in the Musurgia. Most of Allegri’s published music is in the more progressive early Baroque concertato style, especially the instrumental music. However, his work for the Sistine Chapel is descended from the Palestrina style, and in some cases strips even this refined, simple style of all ornament.

By far the most celebrated composition of Allegri is the Miserere mei, Deus, a setting of Vulgate Psalm 50. It is written for two choirs, the one of five and the other of four voices, and has obtained considerable celebrity.

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