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Tomás Luis de Victoria


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Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548 – August 20, 1611) was a Spanish composer of the late Renaissance. He was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and is considered by many to be second only to Palestrina as a composer of sacred polyphony at the time.

He was born in Ávila, likely studying with Escobedo at Segovia early in his life. He is known to have gone to Rome around 1564, where he joined the monastery founded by St. Ignatius Loyola as part of the fight against Lutheranism. He may have studied with Palestrina around this time, though the evidence is circumstantial; certainly he was influenced by the Italian’s style. In 1575 he was ordained as a priest, after a period of service at the monastery as maestro di cappella. He did not stay in Italy, however; in 1586 he returned to Spain, this time in the service of Empress Maria, who was entering the convent of Descalzas Reales in Madrid. Victoria remained at the convent until the end of his life, performing several roles—priest, composer, director of the choir, and organist.

Victoria is the most significant composer of the Counter-Reformation in Spain, and one of the most well-regarded composers of sacred music in the late Renaissance, a genre he devoted himself to exclusively. His works have undergone a revival in the 20th century, with numerous recent recordings. Many commentators hear in his music a mystical intensity and direct emotional appeal, qualities considered by some to be lacking in the arguably more rhythmically and harmonically placid music of Palestrina.


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