Stephen Johnson explores the impact of Tomas Luis de Victoria's Lamentations on its first audiences in Counter-Reformation Rome.
Stephen Johnson considers how five seminal pieces of music would have been appreciated by the audiences who heard them first. He probes the societies and cultures that shaped the experience of those original listeners to reveal what our modern ears might be missing.
The Lamentations by Victoria offer modern listeners a window into a Golden Age of sacred harmony, a period when the ethereal harmonies of Renaissance masters seemed to mirror the ageless music of the spheres. Might Victoria's own congregation have detected more human qualities in his music? He lived and worked in Rome, a city rife with evangelical zeal and foul corruption. As a naïve young priest, he was plunged into this swarming, cultural melting-pot with, at its heart, a church that burned with the muscular, newly re-energised faith of the Catholic Counter-Reformation.