Reformation and Counter-Reformation

Martin Luther called Josquin Desprez “Master of the Notes.” In this motet, Josquin uses imitative counterpoint: the soprano states the melody (the point of imitation), and the other voices enter one by one, singing the same pattern.

Nevertheless, Martin Luther’s reforms sought, among other things, to simplify liturgical music. Luther composed “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” the anthem of the Protestant Reformation.

Palestrina convinced Pope Pius IV that polyphony still had a place in the music of the Catholic Church with his Pope Marcellus Mass.

Palestrina’s great Mass continued to be sung at the coronation of every pope until 1963. Here, it is sung by the papal choir at a Mass in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s ordination as a priest.

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