ORLANDO DI LASSO (1532 - 1594)
Lassus, also known by the Italian form of his name Orlando di Lasso, belonged to the Franco-Flemish school of composers whose work was of supreme international importance in the 16th century. He was born at Mons, in Hainaut, in 1532, and as a boy entered the service of a member of the Gonzaga family (hereditary dukes of Mantua). Employment elsewhere in Italy and a stay in Antwerp was followed by a position in the musical establishment of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in Munich, where Lassus remained from 1556 until his death. With Palestrina and Victoria, he is one of the most important composers of the period.
Lassus wrote a considerable quantity of church music, including over 70 settings of the Mass, settings of the Passions from the four evangelists, and a very large number of motets. From this considerable body of high-quality work, selection is invidious; but mention may be made of the Requiem for four voices, the Missa Qual donna, motets such as Tristis est anima mea, and the setting of the seven penitential Psalms of David and of the Holy Week Lamentations.
Secular Vocal Music
The secular vocal compositions of Lassus include madrigals, in the Italian style, some 150 French chansons, and a much smaller number of German Lieder, all of great interest and forming a large body of work, including settings of Petrarch, Ariosto, Ronsard and Marot, from which selection is again invidious.