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Giovanni Croce

First Book of Motets for Eight Voices and Organ

Richard Charteris
March 17, 2014

332 pp.

3 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1576472446

Hardback 8.5 X 11 $64.00

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Born in Chioggia, a fishing village on the south western perimeter of Venice’s lagoon, Giovanni Croce (1556–1609) made a major contribution to the musical life of the Veneto, eventually becoming maestro di cappella at St Mark’s Basilica. It was, however, as a composer of mellifluous madrigals and motets that he achieved widespread fame throughout Europe. The demand for his music caused many of his collections to be reprinted, some of them time and time again. Indeed, his first book of motets for eight voices, found here, appeared in more editions than any of his other collections, the first in 1594 and the last in 1622. This volume includes an edition of all eighteen of the Latin motets in the collection. A detailed investigation of the music and its sources commences the publication. Among its offerings is information about the usage of the texts, including an English translation for each piece. The volume sheds new light on a wide variety of subjects, including how the works were treated by some of the composer’s contemporaries. All the music falls within the standard vocal range and will suit a wide variety of choral groups. Although organ music appears with each work, its use is not essential and the motets can be performed solely by voices. Two exciting motets in the collection celebrate the military triumph of the Israelites over their adversaries, Percussit Saul mille and Benedictus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Striking antiphonal exchanges also appear in many other works, such as in Omnes gentes plaudite manibus, the text of which played such a significant role in the Venetian celebrations of the Feast of the Ascension, which were crowned by the ceremony of the Sposalizio del mare in which the Doge symbolically ‘married’ the Adriatic on behalf of the Republic. The collection also includes Croce’s transcendent setting of Veni in hortum meum, one of his loveliest motets.


Richard Charteris:

Emeritus Professor in Historical Musicology at the University of Sydney. He has published extensively in the field of music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, comprising a large number of monographs, scholarly articles and critical editions printed in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

He is the world authority on Giovanni Gabrieli and on a number of other composers as well as some collectors of the period, and he has uncovered a vast quantity of otherwise unknown early works and sources in northern hemisphere collections. Professor Charteris’s editions are used worldwide for concerts and recordings.

He is a Governor of the Dolmetsch Foundation of Great Britain, and a member of editorial boards in Europe and the USA. In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and in 2002 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London. Among awards he has received is the Centenary Medal in recognition of his contribution to international musicology. For further information, see his website:


July 1, 2014

Giovanni Croce was a major composer of motets in Renaissance Venice, unjustly neglected today and largely eclipsed by the fame of Monteverdi. This volume was supposed to be the fifth in a projected series of 14 volumes of his complete works. The series was terminated due to the untimely death of one of the co-editors, Michael Procter, but Richard Charteris, the other co-editor, is planning to at least issue one more volume. This particular volume, containing the complete transcriptions of Croce's First Book of Motets, opens with a historical and musicological essay, followed by a complete list of sources, cross-referenced, and finally, the main body of the text: transcriptions themselves. While originally scored for eight voices and organ, the motets can be performed a capella. English translations of the texts are provided throughout, enabling the making of specific performance cues. A book to be read while listening to one of the few recordings of Croce's music, or while organizing one's own Renaissance performance, or as a general study of this interesting composer's style and influences.

Eithne O'Leyne, Editor
Book News, INC

May 17, 2014

Part of a series on the Croce Quatercentenary Edition, "Giovanni Croce: First Book of Motets for Eight Voices and Organ" was begun to be edited by Michael Procter (died May 3, 2012) and finished by Richard Charteris, Emeritus Professor in Historical Musicology at the University of Sydney) with assistance of Michael Procter. This volume, fifth in a series of fourteen projected volumes, presents full scores of music for eighteen motets for voice and organ of popular religious Latin music from 16th century Venice. In addition to full vocal/organ scores of the 18 motets, significant analytic chapters on scoring, performance, modal analysis, transposition rubrics, transposition practice, sources, critical commentary and text and translations are included, written by both Charteris and Procter as indicated. The motet titles are as follows: Omnes gentes plaudite manibus, Ave virgo sponsa Dei, Quaeramus cum pastoribus, Ubi pascas ubi cubes? Factum es silentium, Decantabat populus Israel, Plange quasi virgo, Ornaverunt faciem templi, Percussit Saul mille, Benedictus Dominus Deus Sabaoth, Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius, Descendit angelus Domini, Anima mea liquefacta est, Virgo decus nemorum, Audite verbum Domini, Veni in hortum meum, Deus misereatur nostri, and Ecce panis angelorum. The Renaissance polyphony works of Croce were successful and popular in his lifetime and are still performed with the help of informed scholarship such as is included in this volume.

Nancy Lorraine, Senior Reviewer
“The Midwest Book Review”
MBR Bookwatch

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