Josquin’s Missa L’homme Armé, “Agnus Dei”: Brilliant Renaissance Polyphony

Eight Lines, Steve Reich’s 1979 minimalist masterpiece, sounds nothing like the Renaissance polyphony of Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521). As I pointed out last week, Eight Lines is the music of twentieth century American capitalism with its repetitious advertising and slick popular music. Other commentators have noted obvious links between Reich’s minimalism and the circular music of Asia, such as the Balinese gamelan. Yet, Steve Reich has been deeply influenced by the music of Pérotin and …

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Melodic Siblings: Mozart’s “Dove Sono” and the “Coronation Mass”

It’s one of Mozart’s most serenely beautiful melodies, evoking quiet dignity, nostalgia, and underlying sadness. “Dove sono i bei momenti” is sung by the Countess in Act III of Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Amid all of the craziness, scheming, and entanglements of this whirlwind “day of madness,” she pauses to lament her circumstances—loneliness, betrayal, and humiliation as a result of her husband’s serial infidelity. In the shifting stream of consciousness …

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