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Estevão de Brito
c.1570 - 1641
Portugal
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E. de Brito
Estêvâo de Brito - also: de Britto - (c.1570 - 1641), a Portuguese composer. He was born in 1570 in Serpa, near Évora in Portugal; he died between 25/05 and 02/12/1641 in Málaga, Spain. He was appointed maestro de capella at Badajoz Cathedral in 1597 and was ordained priest in 1608, in 1613 becoming maestro de capella at Málaga Cathedral, subsequently to be offered and to refuse a similar position at the royal chapel. He died in Málaga in 1641.
The church music of de Brito represents a particularly late flowering of the Renaissance, tempered by Baroque innovations. His setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, from the Holy Week liturgy, is characteristic of his style.
The so-called "Évora School," was founded at Évora Cathedral by Manuel Mendes. Some students: Estêvão Lopes Morago, Manuel Cardoso, Filipe de Magalhães, Estêvão de Brito, João Laurenço Rebelo, etc.
There was an important school of polyphonic music in Portugal in those times (Évora and Lisbon); unfortunately, many unpublished works disappeared in the earthquake of Lisbon on 1 November 1755.
Author:Arlindo Correia
Officium defunctorum
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1600
Musical form:Motet and Mass
Text/libretto:Latin from Officium Defunctorum & Missa pro Defunctis.
Duration:55'15''
Label(s):Movieplay Classics 3-11037
Globe 5108 (Partial, Heu Domine)
This Officium contains:
- Parce Mihi, Domine
- Responde Mihi
- Spiritus Meus Attenuabitur

The mass contains:
- Introitus - Requiem Aeternam
- Kyrie
- Graduale - Requiem Aeternam
- Tractus - Absolve, Domine (plainchant)
- Offertorium - Domine Jesu Christe (plainchant)
- Sanctus
- Agnus Dei
- Communio - Lux Aeterna

- Ad Dimittendum - Requiescat in Pace
- Circumdederunt Me
- Homo Natus de Muliere
- Heu, Domine
- Libera Me, Domine
- Memento Mei
- Ad Dimittendum - Requiescat in Pace
The Missa pro defunctis in F major (1600) is for SATB choir. Duration: 11'.
The Officium Defunctorum/Office for the Dead by Estévão de Brito is as a whole Services - consisting out of three great parts - preserved in Málaga Cathedral and includes three lessons out of the Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum, the Missa pro Defunctis and five funeral motets at the end of the ceremony.
The first part of this Officium Defunctorum consists out of three Lessons:
At the beginning of his Offices Defunctorum, De Brito starts with three Lessons all out of the book Job, “Parce Mihi Domine”, “Responde Mihi” and “Spiritus Meus Attenuabitur”.
These lessons correspond with the first, fourth and seventh Lesson out of the Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum, respectively page 1785, 1791 and 1796 out of the Liber Usualis (edition 1936).
In that case they are all as well the first Lessons of each Nocturno. The lessons all are set for four voices. Remarkable in this case, this services by De Brito will not start with the “Circumdederunt” which was as we saw before, in use in Spain and in Portugal. This part of the Officium Defunctorum is set in more homophonic style, sometimes added with imitative and some minor madrigal phrases.
The second part of the Officium Defunctroum is the Missa pro Defunctis:
With the Council of Trent, the liturgy of the Requiem Mass was more or less standardized. De Brito sets not all of the admitted Requiem Mass sections except the “Dies Irae, Sequentia” and the “Offertorium, Domine Jesu Christe”.
Sometimes the “Tractus, Absolve Domine”, see page 1809, Liber Usualis, is sung. Both of the two last mentioned are performed on the mentioned CD above with the plainchant and be aware they are not set by De Brito.
This Missa pro Defunctis is set by De Brito for four voices and the cantus firmus is allotted to the two upper voices and not in the Tenor-voice which was usual in the traditional style of that days. See for instance de Morales ( c.1500-1553) Missa pro Defunctis a 4 and Da Victoria Missa pro Defunctis a 4 with nearly – there are differences - the same movements. The last part of the Officium Defunctorum consists out of five Motets:
The first motet – Circumdederunt me dolores mortis – is sung during the Exsequiis in the Iberian peninsula, but is normally the Introit of Sunday Septuagesima. But this text used in the Offices of the Dead differs slightly: “dolores mortis” in stead of “gemitus mortis”.
The “Circumdederunt” is often especially used by Spanish and Portuguese composers in the Office of the Dead like Cristobal de Morales(c.1500-1553), Pedro Fernandez (1483-1547), Aires Fernandez (16th C.), Juan de Avila ( 16th C.), Hernando Franco (1532-1585), Sebastián de Vivanco (c.1550-1622), Estevao de Brito (c.1575-1641), Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (c.1590-1664), Bartolomeo Trosylho (1500-1567), the German Balthasar de Senarius (c.1485-1544) and even Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594), Jacob Regnart (1540-1599) and William Byrd (1543-1623) did. This motet is often sung at the beginning of the Exsequiis ceremony. The second motet - Homo natus de muliere - is taken out of the first two sentences of the fifth Lesson out of the Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum, page 1791 Liber Usualis.
The third motet - Heu Domine, heu, Salvator noster - is a motet sung at the exsequiis in case of a funeral of important and distinguished persons, being still practices today in Portugal. This motet is set by De Brito for six voices and the text is based on several biblical verses. But this text is not found in the Liber Usualis nor in the ordo defunctorum. This Heu Domine is an imposing piece.
The fourth motet – Libera me Domine with Kyrië – is normally sung during the Absolutio super tulum. The “Libera me Domine de mortis” is a motet from the Exsequiarum Ordo more specific a Responsorium/Respond sung during the final blessing of the coffin on its catafalque. This Libera me (there are more (4) plainchant variations known) is an old Responsorium out of the In Exsequiis. This Respond is published in the old Liber Usualis page 1767.
The last motet in this Officium Defunctorum is the “Memento mei”.
Seen the sources in Mexico-City more especially Puebla (Cathedral Choirbook 3) its is likely that this – Memento mei – is sung at the closure of the Celebration, with a twofold Kyrië, and sometimes followed by the Requiescat in pace, which is so often prayed and sung in the services of the dead. The text of this “Memento mei” is taken from the Responsorium/Respond sung between Lectio IV and Lectio V in nocturno secundo in the Roman/Tridentine Liturgy and on page 1791 Liber Usualis. In the Castillian Liturgy this Respond is sung in Nocturno tertio.
As stated before this Officium Defunctorum is in total preserved in the archives of the Málaga Cathedral, where since 1613 de Brito was until his death appointed maestro di capella (mestre de capela).
Author:Wim Goossens