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Thread: Lorenzo Perosi (1872 - 1956)

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    Senior Member Andante Largo's Avatar
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    Default Lorenzo Perosi


    Lorenzo Perosi (21 December 1872 – 12 October 1956) was an Italian composer (mainly sacred music) and catholic priest. The only member of the Giovane Scuola who did not write opera. From 1898 until death he was the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir in Rome.
    Perosi composed among others: 23 Oratorios, 54 Masses, 342 Motets, 26 Orchestral Works and 34 Chamber Works.

    According to biographer Graziella Merlatti, Perosi was the most prolific composer of sacred music of the 20th century. According to musicologist Arturo Sacchetti's estimate, Perosi composed 3,000–4,000 works. A great many still await publication; some have not yet been located. All of the sources mentioned in the bibliography agree that Perosi was the most influential composer of the Cecilian Movement.
    Last edited by Andante Largo; Apr-09-2021 at 06:56.

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    Senior Member Andante Largo's Avatar
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    As I generally prefer instrumental orchestral and chamber music, I recommend his:
    Piano Concerto (1916)

    Suite No. 2 "Venezia" (1906)

    Clarinet Concerto (1928) [1st movement in the link]

    Violin Concerto No. 1 (1903)

    And also his 18 String Quartets and 5 Piano Quintets.
    String Quartet No. 1 (1928) [1st movement in the link]
    Last edited by Andante Largo; Apr-09-2021 at 07:14.

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    Senior Member RobertJTh's Avatar
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    Default Lorenzo Perosi (1872 - 1956)

    One of the most enigmatic composers ever, overrated and underrated at the same time.

    When he was still in his early 20's, he became famous overnight for his church music, oratorios on biblical themes, masses and other choir music. His very accessible and sensitive use of romantic Italian lyricism, modal tonality (in the spirit of Caecilianism) and late-romantic sensitivity made him the poster boy of catholic church music worldwide. And his fame wasn't limited to religious circles: Debussy, Massenet and Puccini admired him. His output was enormous: the young Perosi challenged even Max Reger in sheer number of works.

    Then, after 1907 there's a surprising shift in his compositional activities: he started writing secular works: concertos for violin, piano and clarinet, orchestral suites and symphonic poems.
    In the years 1928-1931, during his recovering from severe depression, he produced an extraordinary series of chamber music works. No less than 18 string quartets and 5 piano quartets were written in relatively short time.

    After this outburst of creativity, he mostly focused on church music again for the rest of his life. When he died in 1957, liturgical reform in the catholic church had already started and his old fashioned music slowly faded into obscurity.

    Nowadays only a couple of masses and shorter works survive on the repertoire of conservative church choirs. His once so famous oratorios are completely unknown nowadays - they suffer the same fate as most other works in their genre, no matter how high their quality is. People just don't listen to oratorios anymore.

    It's unfortunate that he hardly wrote any organ music that would at least ensure him a place in modern liturgy. There's a collection of 100 small pieces called "Centonum", which I love to play as an organist, they're quite beautiful, useful and representative of his style.

    The part of his oeuvre - the secular works - that have a good chance of succesful revival suffer from the fact that Perosi didn't propagate them himself - maybe he was afraid they would damage his reputation as a serious composer of religious works?
    Much is still unpublished and some pieces may even be lost. Luckily there's a lot of his music to be found on youtube. Currently I'm listening to his orchestral suites and some of his string quartets. This is music of such quality that one wonders why it's still so obscure.

    Take his orchestral suites for example. Each of them is inspired by an Italian city, and it's fresh and lively music with folksy undertones, beautifully orchestrated - and frankly the exact opposite of what you would expect from a priest-composer.



    While his orchestral music from the early 1900's (also try his piano concerto!) sounds fairly old fashioned late-romantic, Perosi did incorporate some modern and neoclassical elements in his chamber music from the late 20's.


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    Senior Member Andante Largo's Avatar
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    I have already created a thread about Lorenzo Perosi.
    Lorenzo Perosi
    Last edited by Andante Largo; Dec-02-2021 at 15:37.

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    Senior Member RobertJTh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andante Largo View Post
    I have already created a thread about Lorenzo Perosi.
    Lorenzo Perosi
    Ah yes I see, sorry about that. Good music choices and I agree about his secular music being the most viable part of his oeuvre.
    But poor Lorenzo doesn't seem to be very popular at TC...

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    I've merged the threads and added this to the index of composers.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Senior Member RobertJTh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    I've merged the threads and added this to the index of composers.
    Good job, thanks.

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