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Leone Leoni
c.1560 - 1627
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L. Leoni
Leone Leoni (c.1560 - 24/06/1627) was a North Italian polyphonic Renaissance composer who was born in Verona. His musical studies – his master was Giammateo Asola (1528/29-1609) - received Leone in his native town. After that Leoni served as maestro di cappella at Vicenza cathedral as from 1588 and succeeded Asola who returned to Venice. As a cathedral maestro di cappella, Leoni also produced masses, psalms, magnificats and other liturgical music, some were published in his Cantici sacri (1608) or Sacri Fiori as well as sacred and secular madrigals. Leoni composed motets for polychoral choirs, some in many parts, with instrumental accompaniment.
Leoni contributed to the anthology Psalmodia vespertina dedicated to Palestrina ( 1525-1594) by Asola which was published at Venice. A pupil of Leoni is likely to have been Ludovico Balbi (c.1545-1604).
Leoni was appointed as a member by the Accademia Olimpic, Vicenza, between 1609 and 1612. He passed away at Vicenza in 1627 and Dom Amedio Freddi (1570-1634), succeeded him as maestro di cappella in 1627.
Author:Wim Goossens
Peccavai super numerum Leone Leoni.
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1611
Musical form:Motet à 8 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from de Officium Defunctorum
Peccavi super Numerum is a plainchant from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum known and used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well-ordered. The Peccavi super numerum is number 69. This Respond is known in the series of Lyon. But in this case Leoni omitted the belonging Versicle “Precor Domine, ut transferas”. The first part of this Respond is out of the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh. Leoni did not the normal repetition of the last sentence of the Respond Quoniam irritavi fram tuam etc. which was normal in the use of a whole Respond in the liturgy. This text is set for eight voices (CATTB x QSSO=CATB ) also for double choir in coro spezzato-style or technique by the Italian composer Leone Leoni as a motet. It is not a very long motet which consists out of 53 bars.
It’s again interesting to see how Leoni copes with polychoral Requiem music as we saw before by some composers and what a collector Abraham Schadaeo (1566-1626) is. Composer Leoni starts this motet with an ascending semitone (a-bes) followed in the first seven bars in a polyphonic way by Choir I. That semitone will be answered by Choir II in the same way starting in bar 7 and gives automatically an austere sphere in this setting. Leoni uses further law texture in this motet with a highest note a d3 and deepest note E. Leoni uses a lot of harmonic changes. The main point of this polychoral setting follows the wording: “multiplicata sunt peccata mea,” my sins are multiple (bar 16 – 27). Hear the interesting phrases in which the two choirs ‘compete in a polychoral way ‘ with multiplying our sins! In the last part Leoni uses word-painting in both choirs in the wording and syllables in “irritavi” out of “irritavi iram tuam,” irritated/provoked your wrath. Leoni sets six ascending eighth notes in each voice of both choirs to underline the wording irritavi iram. (bars 40-49). In both main points of this composition Leoni uses polychoral style in showing Leoni’s adoration of the Venetian polychoral style once developed by the South Netherlandish composers in Venice. This composition is set in E-Phrygian.
This setting was published in Promptuarii musici, sacras harmonias sive motetas V. VI. VII. & VIII vocum, e diversis...autoribus, antehac nunquam in Germania editis... . Collectore Abrahamo Schadaeo...Strassburg 1611. It’s interesting to note here and real common at that time, that most of the pieces collected by Schadaeo here in the above anthology of vocal pieces "Promptuarii musici, collectore Abrahamo Schadeo" published in Strassburg 1611-1617 mentioned, are transcribed ( Intavolierung: that means a transcription from existing vocal music to organ music) into 219 sacred pieces in a new German organ tablature!
Author:Wim Goossens
R Peccávi súper númerum arénae máris,
et multiplicáta sunt peccáta méa:
et non sum dígnus vidére altitúdinem caéli,
prae multitúdine iniquitátis méae:
quóniam irritávi íram túam, et málum córam te féci.


R. I have sinned beyond the number of the sands of the sea,
and my sins have multiplied:
and I am not worthy to view the height of heaven,
for the multitude of my iniquity:
because I have provoked your wrath, and done evil in your sight.
Contributor:Wim Goossens