Ever since I began plotting my course to become a medievalist, which happened roughly in my second year at university mostly thanks to a course given by my MA-advisor-to-be, I've gained an ever-increasing appreciation of medieval and early modern music. Part of this appreciation is buttressed by the fact that I have been doing research on liturgical texts both in my MA and now during my PhD, which allows me to place the beauty of the music within a historical framework. It is not at all necessary to know anything about the development of Christian liturgy to appreciate this music, but it helps, and in my case it has been conducive to explore composers I would otherwise maybe not have heard about. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, I often listen to medieval or early modern music when I'm working, and I do this because it puts me in a more historically-minded state of thinking.
One of the composers I've been listening to a lot in the past year is Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611), perhaps the best known representative of of the music of the golden age of Spanish culture, Siglo de oro, and also a great representative of the intersection of culture and religion in the wake of the Counter-Reformation, an intersection exemplified for instance by the beautiful and mystical sobriety of El Greco's paintings.
I was therefore very delighted to find that the Yorkshire Bach Choir was performing selections of Victoria's music here in York at St. Michael-le-Belfrey. The concert was held yesterday and I enjoyed two wonderful hours listening to the psalms and the excerpts from the mass as rendered by the musical sensibility of Victoria. It is music that builds cathedrals in your mind, and the melodies carried my thoughts to happy memories from my trips to Spain, and I already look forward to the next concert with Victoria's music - wherever and whenever that might be.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find videos on Youtube of the excerpts I heard yesterday, but I nonetheless take this opportunity to bring you some samples of the mastery of Tomás Luis de Victoria, whose songs I dearly love.
O Vos Omnes