Philippe de Monte
1521 - 1603
Belgium / The Netherlands
Ph. de Monte
Philippe de Monte (1521 - 04/07/1603), a Flemish composer. He was born in 1521 in Mechelen (Malignant), in the low countries in the current Belgium. He is originating in this area of Europe ranging between northern France and southern low countries/Flemish region, from which the singers, musicians and composers came who reigned on the music during two and a half centuries all over Europe and which will be called later the Flemish from the Low Countries. De Monte was almost certainly educated at St. Rombout Cathedral Mechelen until the age of twenty. De Monte which dies in 1603, is the last great representative of this famous Flemish tradition, at the time when the glory turns to Italian and Spanish composers. After having been appointed a probably Vicar with the Cathedral of Cambrai, whereas he was child!, he moves in Italy, where he will live twenty years, like several important Flemish musicians.
He served in Naples the Pinelli family from 1541 to 1551. Some research showing De Monte was a singer at The Cathedral of Cambrai from 1548-1566 with a lot of absence. In Italy De Monte made known as composer of madrigals in a new style. De Monte was scarcely less prominent than Lassus or Palestrina among late Renaissance polyphonic composers and was one of the most prolific composers of that time. In 1554 De Monte had his 1st stay in Rome and a publication of his Madigrali libro primo. After the first Italian period De Monte travels through Europe and travelled to the southern part of the Netherlands/Flemish region, Antwerp 1554, thereafter residing for a short while in England 1554-1555 as a member of Queens Mary Chapel but he returned soon from England to Naples, due to the predominance of Spaniards in Queens Mary Chapel. He befriended in England the 12/13 year old William Byrd. His friends included, apart from Lassus whom he regularly met, of course the mentioned William Byrd, and his students Macque and Regnart.
As written before De Monte returned for the second time to Naples after his England journey and there is in 1567-1568 a 2nd stay in Rome, before being appointed in 1568 choirmaster Kapellmeister in Vienna and Prague at the Court of the emperor Maximilian II, successor of Charles V (emperor 1519-1556) to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, which included half of current Europe then. This nomination with a so high importance, which Monte will occupy until the end of his long life, will give him a phase of high creativity without precedent in his live.
De Monte was appointed choirmaster Kapellmeister over the largest and most important musical institution in the Bohemian region. The Court Ensemble founded by Ferdinand I (emperor 1556-1564) is a group of singers and musicians with two organs. Under Maximilian II (emperor 1564-1576) several other instruments were added, and the Ensemble reached its richness of development during the reign of Rudolph II (emperor 1576-1612). In 1576 under Rudolph II the Court was moved to Prague. Bohemian membership in the Court Ensemble was very small, as the Ensemble mostly consists out of Dutch/Flemish ( like de Formelis, Paul van Winde, Jacob Buus, Charles Luython, Alexander Utendal), Spaniards, Germans, and Italians. Even in 1507 de Monte went to the Flemish region to acquire talented singers and musicians for the Court Ensemble in Prague.
The thirty-five years (1568 -1603) in Prague and Vienna which followed gave de Monte all the time in producing the essence of his immense sacred work. However, when Rudolph II succeeds Maximilian, de Monte is even seen refusing his duties in joining his family in Cambrai. De Monte is obliged to remain attached to the service of the emperor which is not like his predecessor humanistic and a friend of arts. De Monte finds consolation near his nephew whom adopted him and of the many friends whom he cultivated in all Europe: humanistic musicians, poets, ecclesiastics and among them the most famous. In 1572 he was appointed non residential Treasurer of the Cathedral of Cambrai and thereafter in 1577 appointed Canon of the same Cathedral. De Monte dies in July 1603 in Prague, where the Imperial Court was settled for twenty years.
He is author of about 1700 compositions. Today though ignored the Mass is probably the most valuable polyphonic piece of music of the Renaissance. In the Italian period De Montes oeuvre is highly concentrated and dominated around the Italian madrigal: He wrote some more than thousand (1100) Madrigal settings. With this genre, which appears at the beginning of XVI century, the music enters into the Renaissance.
De Monte is one of the principal Masters of the "second generation" of madrigal composers, among them Monteverdi, the giant of the period Baroque which will follow, Monteverdi stated that De Monte creates a "second practice" to whom himself is the heir!
De Monte develops indeed increased means of the expression of the text, in particular by using dissonances.
De Montes religious/sacred music, consists out of approximately 48 masses, 350 motets (published in VII Liber de Sacrae cantiones/Sacrarum cantiones cum quinque, sex etc. vocibus (1572-1600)), one book de Motettum (1575) and other publications (1564-1631), and of many (145) religious/sacred madrigals (in V Liber de quinque et sex vocibus (1581-1593)). All compositions are impregnated of his development on the expression of the emotions. All masses are illustrative, even richer and more stylish than nevertheless not less important masses composed by his distinguished predecessors and contemporaries. A lot of De Montes work has been rediscovered due to the efforts of Mgr. J. van Nuffel † and Prof Dr. René Lenaerts † from Louvain.
Most of his Masses, written for 4 to 8 voices (about 48 masses are at this moment known of which 24 survived and are published between 1579 and 1590 or in handwritten sources), and motets were written at the Imperial Court, the former being mostly "parody" or "imitation" Masses, rich and impressive in style and of high quality. The same applies for the the Missa de profundis his Mass of the Dead, nevertheless the style is due to the subject somewhat modest. The manuscript of the Missa de profundis is in Vienna. The handling of his vocal disposition in his compositions is superb, as is his flair for sophisticated polyphonic writing. Nevertheless serving the Imperial Court De Monte, comparatively isolated from new trends, declined to follow the fashion for dramatic writing or chromatics. De Monte has today begun to be recognized as one of the most accomplished and most important composers of the late Renaissance, indeed one of the last Flemish but not the least! He is well-known for his Madrigals and his sacred music. On a cupper-plate with a portrait of De Monte made by Raphaël Sadeler in Munich in 1594 I read: "Cernimus excelsum mente, arte, et nomine MONTEM quo Musae, et Charites constituere domum"! that means: "We see here a MOUNT, very raised of mind, art and name in which the Muses and Grace have taken as their home".
Author:Wim Goossens
Peccavi super numerum
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:motet à 6
Text/libretto:Latin from Responsorium de Officium defunctorum
Label(s):Brilliant classics 999735/5 1998
Collins Classics 15272
CRD 3520
A motet from the Responsorium de Officium defunctorum for six voices. The Peccavi super numerum is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria known used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. This setting SATTBB by de Monte was published in Antwerp in 1587 in Sacrarum cantiones cum sex vocibus liber secundus. De Monte uses particularly favoured Psalm-text. Peccavi starts in the opening bars with homophony in the lower voices, thereafter moving into a fluent modest polyphonic style due to the chosen text. This motet has two parts each part ended by a calm “feci”. The handling by de Monte of the vocal disposition is superb.
Author:Wim Goossens
Parce mihi Domine
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1564
Musical form:Motet for six voices CATQSB
Text/libretto:Latin Lectio I out of Officium Defunctorum
Label(s):EMI 826531-2
Eufoda 1104 CD
EMI CDM 7634282
Erato 0190295825072
This motet Parce mihi Domine is the fully text of Lectio One taken out of the Office of the Dead, Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum. This lesson is published in liber Usualis (edition 1936) p. 1785. This motet is set by South-Netherlandish Philippe de Monte for five voices CATQSB. The text of this lesson is taken out of the Book of Job 7.d. This motet Parce mihi Domine is set in two movements ‘prima pars ‘ (Ms 1-83) and ‘secunda pars’ (Ms 1-68). The Parce Domine is the first of nine lessons out of the Office of the Dead.
In the Renaissance period more composers have set parts or the whole Officium defunctorum we mention Giosoffo Zarlino (1517-1590), Giovanni Asola (ca.1528-1609), Estêvâo de Brito (c.1570 - 1641), Lodovico da Viadana (1564 - 1627), Duarte Lôbo -Latin: Eduardus Lupus- (ca.1565 - 1646), Marco da Gagliano (1582 - 1642), Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (ca.1554 – 1622), Filipe de Magalhães (ca.1571 – 1652), Sebastián de Vivanco (ca.1551 - 1622), Orlandus Lassus- (1532 - 1594), Christobal de Morales (ca.1500 - 1553), Francisco Garro (ca.1556-1623), Giovanni da Palestrina (1525-1594) and Juan Vasquez (ca.1510 - 1560). Very interesting is the setting of Tenor-part in the motet by De Monte. In the Tenor-part is set throughout the whole work an ostinato on the words: ‘Sana me Domine, heal me Lord!’ The first theme in the ‘prima pars’ of this ostinato is d-bflat-a- c-a-g, the second a-f-e-g-e-d both in descending line. In the secunda pars the first theme is d-e-g-e-f-a (ascending line of the second theme prima pars) and the second theme is g-a-c-a-bflat-d (ascending line of the first theme prima pars).Both are reversed motions of the prima pars, in fact a mirroring effect. This Tenor-part should be played besides the tenor-voice with a Tenor trombone. De Monte starts the prima pars in an excellent imitative polyphonic style with Cantus followed by Altus, Tenor, Quintus, Sextus and Bassus. As from Ms 3 starts the ostinato by Tenor. The ‘Quid es homo’ Ms 20 has in all parts a question-mark with an ascending fifth and a descending fourth followed with word-painting on ‘magnificas’ with ascending eighth-notes in four parts. De Monte uses syncopation throughout phrases in creating rhythmic interest and effect. You hear ‘et subito’ as from Ms 49-55 in all parts musically painted in ‘every moment’! The prima pars consists out of 83 Measures and ends in D. In the secunda pars De Monte paints the ‘peccavi, I have sinned’ in all parts in a different moving way. The most striking is the ascending semitonus a-bflat in Cantus, Bassus and Sextus. See the reversed motions in the Tenor-part in this secunda pars as we already mentioned before. De Monte uses syncopation, eights notes, sharps and flats to underline this Pro defunctis Lesson. This movement consists out of 68 measures and is set in D-Dorian. This work is an example of the enormous skills of this Renaissance composer member of the Fifth South-Netherlandish polyphonic generation. This motet is published in Thesaurus musicus continens selectissimas octo, septem, sex, quinque et quatuor vocum Harmonias, tam à veteribus quàm recentioribus symphonistis compositas. Nuremberg, MDLXIV in Thesaurus Musicus (1564), Volume III, no. XXIX, cantiones sacras… sex vocum.
Author:Wim Goossens
Prima pars
Parce mihi Domine nihil enim sunt dies mei.
Quid est homo quia magnificas eum?
aut quid apponis erga eum cor tuum?
Visitas eum diluculo, et subito probas illum.
Usquequo non parcis mihi nec dimittis me,
ut glutiam salivam meam?
Secunda pars
Peccavi, quid faciam tibi o custos hominum?
Quare posuisti me contrarium tibi,
et factus sum mihimetipsi gravis?
Cur non tollis peccatum meum,
et quare non aufers iniquitatem meam?
Ecce nunc in pulvere dormiam:
et si mane me quaesieris, non subsistam.

First part
Spare me O Lord for my days are nothing.
What is man, that thou magnifies him:
or why settest thou thy heart toward him?
Thou dost visit him early in the morning,
and suddenly thou provest him.
How long dost thou not spare me, nor suffer me,
that I swallow my spittle?
Second part
I have sinned. What shall I do to thee, O keeper of men?
Why hast thou set me contrary to thee,
and I am become burdensome to myself?
Why dost thou not take away my sin,
and why dost thou not take away mine iniquity?
Behold now I shall sleep in the dust,
and if thou seek me in the morning, I shall not be.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Missa de requiem
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1570c
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Label(s):Panton 811401
His requiem contains:
1. Requiem aeternam
2. Te decet hymnus
3. Kyrie
4. Si ambulem (Ps. XXII (XXIII), 4-5)
5. Domine Jesu Christe
6. Sanctus
7. Benedictus
8. Agnus Dei
9. Lux aeterna
10. Requiem aeternam
Peccantem me quotidie
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1600c
Musical form:motet à 5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum
Label(s):Supraphon 11 2176-2"
Supraphon 3340
Supraphon 38982
This motet from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum Matins of the Dead is written for five voices (SSATB). The Peccantem me quotidie is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria known used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. But this Responsorium is published in the old Liber Usualis. But in this case and that’s interesting we never saw it before the combination of the used text by a Renaissance composer. De Monte uses from the Respond Peccantem me, sung in the third Nocturno the first sentence followed by two sentences out of the Lectio VIII of the Officium Defunctorum (Office of the Dead) read after this Respond. See for more information the Liber Usualis (ed. 1936) page 1797.
Peccantem me quotidie has a fluent polyphonic modest counterpoint style, it is a small motet and counts 45 bars, but in singleness of heart a beautiful motet. De Monte starts with Cantus I followed by Tenor, Cantus II, Altus and Bassus with nearly the same phrase. From bar 16 each part follows the mentioned text out of the Lectio VIII. This motet ends in a splendid E major, (e- Phrygian mode). This setting (SSATB) by de Monte was published in Venice, Gardano in 1600 in Sacrarum cantionum 5 vocibus…. liber septimus.
Author:Wim Goossens
Peccantem me quotidie, et non me poenitentem,
timor mortis conturbat me:
Miseremini mei, miseremini mei, saltem vos amici mei, quia manus Domini tetigit me.
Quare persequimini me sicut Deus, et carnibus meis saturamini?

The fear of death doth trouble me, sinning daily, and not repenting:
Have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me,
at the least you my friends, because the hand of our Lord hath touched me.
Why do you as God persecute me, and are filled with my flesh?
Contributor:Wim Goossens