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Giulio Belli
c.1560 - 1621
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G. Belli
Giulio Belli (c.1560 - 1621), an Italian composer (born in Longiano); pupil of Cimello, wrote a Missa pro defunctis and two other settings. He might be the same person as Giulio Cesare Belli, a lutenist at the court of Mantua about 1587. G. Belli wrote three settings of the requiem mass.
Source:The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1586
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
No details available.
Source:The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis
Missa pro defunctis
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1595
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
This Missa pro defunctis, has been printed, posthumously, in Venice in 1622.
Source:The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis
Missa pro defunctis
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1599
Musical form:mass 4 voces CATB
Text/libretto:Latin mass
The eight movements of this Missa pro Defunctis are:
- Introitus: Requiem aeternam
- Kyrie: Kyrie Christe Kyrie
- Sequentia: Dies irae
- Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
- Sanctus: Sanctus & Osanna
- Benedictus: Benedictus & Osanna
- Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei I, II, III
- Communio: Lux aeterna

Belli is a representative of the early Neapolitan school but in the early works you see some influence of Palestrina (1525-1594). Belli was a pupil of Giovanni Cimello (1510-1591) in Naples who was also member of the early Neapolitan school. In this small Missa pro Defunctis, written in 1599, Belli made use of the plainchant in a short variety of forms. The Tractus and the Gradual are omitted by him. This Missa pro Defunctis is certainly used in the Office services and is found too in the bibliotheca della musica of the famous Basilica di S. Marco in Venice.
But here in this Missa pro defunctis contrary to the Missa pro defunctis by Asola (1528-1609) where we saw more homophonic treatment in function of the text due to the Council of Trent Belli still uses imitative polyphonic style quoting plainchant motives in some movements.
Nevertheless minor homophonic parts are in this Mass.
Here you see already too the change in technique compared to the brilliant polyphonic style of his Netherlands colleagues not hindered by the rules of the Council of Trente , which comes in fashion in the mid-16th century. All part-song in this Missa pro Defunctis are written for four unequal voices CATB, but nowadays some well trained little male choirs (Vocal groups) could even perform this Mass ( highest note is c2 absolute).
In the first movement, the Requiem aeternam, Belli quotes parts of the Gregorian plainchant in an uni sono way, moreover in the polyphonic version in the Cantus from bars 27 up to 34 starting from exaudi orationem, Belli quotes the plainchant using long notes too.
This first movement contains 34 bars. The first part of this Missa pro defunctis is written in a modest polyphonically way, with some homophonic parts in it.
Here you see already as mentioned before the change in technique compared to the brilliant polyphonic style of his Netherland’s contemporaries.
The Kyrie contains 35 bars and is written in a modest polyphonic style and starts in a homophonic style by CAT. The Christe starts briefly homophonic and changes into polyphonic manner up to the end. The last Kyrie is written in a polyphonic short contrapuntal manner.
The Gradual and Tractus out of the Liber Usualis, since 1570 official part of the office of the Dead, are omitted by Belli. The Sequence, Dies irae is used by Belli like for instance Jacobus de Kerle (1531-1591 ) and Asola (1528-1609) did in following the orders and the concluded implementation of the Dies Irae in the Office of the Dead by the Council of Trent. The Dies irae contains 127 bars, the plainchant not included and is written for alternating use uni sono and CATB. The strophe with the straight numbers will be performed uni sono with the plainchant, excluded Strophe 20 , Pie Jesu Domine. The odd numbers will be sung by several varied voices CATB. In some phrases Belli uses fragments out of the plainchant in giving a smoothly intonation from the uni sono plainchant to CATB (in Tenor bar 79; in Altus bar 91 and bar 104). The strophes 1, 7, and 13 have the same settings, so did Belli with the strophes 3, 9 and 15 and further too with the strophes 5, 11 and 17, indeed following the known musical structure of the Dies Irae. At the end in the phrase Pie Jesu, Belli uses long notes to accentuate the text merciful Jesu! and is set following a conclusion ending with a short Amen.
The Offertorium, Domine Jesu Christe is set for four voices CATB, contains 62 bars and Belli quotes parts of the Gregorian Plainchant. In this movement we see the craftsman Belli in imitative polyphonic style. Belli omitted in this Offertorium the normally used last sentences “Hostias et preces...” .
The Sanctus and Benedictus are very short respectively 17 and 11 bars and are based on modest polyphonic style with some independent rhythms and polyphonic movements in the beginning of the Pleni sunt coeli and Hosanna. Contrary to that the beginning of the Sanctus and the Benedictus is homophonic with rhythmic variations. The Sanctus starts with a short plainchant phrase.
The Agnus Dei I, II, III in total 23 bars starts in each with a plainchant phrase, followed by homophonic style with some independent rhythm, nevertheless the last dona eis requiem has some minor rhythmic changes.
In the Communio: Lux aeterna, Belli alternates in 33 bars with the plainchant uni sono followed by interesting polyphonic movements for CATB. The Et Lux perpetua is vast polyphonic, but with some quotations of the plainchant (see Tenor bar 246 and 247; Tenor bar 261 to 267 and Cantus bar 269 to 271) ending up in a short fluent polyphonic style.
This Missa pro defunctis is published in Venice in 159, Venetia : Missarum 4v Liber Primo, A. Gardanum, Venezia and is found too in the bibliotheca della musica of the famous Basilica di S. Marco in Venice.
Of course all the Missa pro Defunctis composed in the Renaissance period we saw are compositions written with deep devotion and painful hope, but in music terms they seems unbeatable most impressive. Nevertheless contrary to that Belli was really a prolific composer of sacred music, but mostly in a conservative style.
Author:Wim Goossens
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis
Libera me Domine de morte
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1600
Musical form:Motet a 8 vocibus inaequales
Text/libretto:Latin from the Exsequiarum Ordo de Officium Defunctorum
The ”Libera me Domine de morte” is in general a plainchant from the Exsequiarum Ordo more specific a Responsorium/Respond sung during the final blessing of the coffin on its catafalque. Indeed this Respond is on the other hand sung at the beginning of the Absolutio pro defunctis, so after the Missa pro Defunctis, see the Liber Usualis (ed. 1936 page 1824) and is sung as we already mentioned in the Exsequiarum ordo - also before the Mass –. The whole Exsequarium ordo is published in the old Liber Usualis (ed 1936 pages 1763 – 1771). This Libera Domine de Morte aeterna is a well-known Respond. The Libera me (there are more (4) plain-chant variations known) is an old Responsorium. But following the text Belli uses some variations on the later - in 1570 - confirmed Roman text version page 1767/68 of the old Liber Usualis. In this motet Belli (In the score Iulli Belli Longianensis) omitted some sentences of the first Respond in Exsequiis. Guilio Bello as a maestro in the St. Mark’s of Venice uses in this motet a majestic polychoral setting ‘coro spezzati’ developed in the Venetian School. Two choirs with each CATB are involved.
Choir one starts with in each part two major second (a-g-a and d-c-d ). Belli uses in this setting modest imitative polyphonic style on the other hand there are some homophonic phrases in this motet (bar 28-38 and 45-54). Belli uses some word-painting for instance in “Veneris”, “come” with four nice 8th descending notes (bar 22). Belli joins the two choirs twice (40-45) majestically together in “Quando Coeli”, ‘When the Heavens and earth are moved’ in the middle of this motet and at the end with nearly the same notes culminating in a firm closure (55-62). Belli uses in this motet the d-Dorian mode. This motet is published in Sacrarum Cantionium 4,5,6,8,12v Liber I Venetiis, A Gardanum,1600 and published in www.cantoressanctimarci.it the archives at St. Mark’s in Venice.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text Responsorium:
R. Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda.
Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra,
dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
V. Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo,
dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.
R.Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra.
V. Requiem aeternam, dona eis Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
R.Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra.

R. Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death, on that fearful day,
when the heavens and the earth are moved,
when you will come to judge the world through fire.
V. I am made to tremble, and I fear, when the desolation shall come,
and also the coming wrath.
R. When the heavens and the earth are moved.
V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon them
R. When the heavens and the earth are moved.
Contributor:Wim Goossens