ATHER Cristóbal de Morales joined the papal choir on 1 September 1535, the very same day Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel altar wall. Later, Morales said that Paul III personally chose him for the choir. No Spanish composer of the 16th century was more lauded during his lifetime—and for two hundred years after his death—than Morales. I personally believe his student, Father Francisco Guerrero, was an even greater composer; but it’s not really fair to compare them, since Father Morales must be viewed as “way ahead of his time,” whereas Father Guerrero had the benefit of discoveries Morales made.1
Less than 0.001%: Choirmasters who direct small choirs are always looking for great repertoire. The following incorporates a tiny little musical excerpt pillaged from a much larger work by Father Morales. Indeed, it represents less than 0.001% of his total output; but even the longest journey begins with a single step. Once your choir knows the piece, encourage them to read directly from the 14th-century notation (included in the PDF file) because this often heightens musicality.
Listen to a live recording our 9:00am “small choir” made last Sunday:
Listen to a short excerpt of the polyphonic section:
Download the file: You can freely download the PDF file—along with rehearsal videos for each individual voice—by clicking on #55315 and searching for “55315.”
This article is part of an ongoing (loosely connected)
series called: Repertoire for Small Choirs
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Father Morales first began to publish in 1539; two years later he was called “the most excellent Morales” and the next two decades saw forty (!) different publications containing his compositions appear at such diverse centers as Antwerp, Augsburg, Lyons, Milan, Nuremberg, Rome, Salamanca, Valladolid, Venice, and Wittenberg.