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Baldassare Donato
c.1525 - 1603
B. Donato
Baldassare Donato (also Donati) (c. 1525 – 06/1603) was an Italian composer and singer – from 1550 - of the famous Venetian School of the Renaissance. In 1562 he was appointed maestro di cappella piccolo at St. Mark’s. Since 1590 Donato was maestro di cappella of the prestigious and famous St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice succeeding Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590) at the end of the 16th century. Donato was the first Venetian appointed Maestro di cappella after the Netherlandish, Pietro de Fossis (? -1527) and Adriaen Willaert (c.1490-1562). The Netherlandish line in the Venetian school represented by Cipriano de Rore (1516-1565), Gioseffo Zarlino, Contanzo Porta (c.1529-1601), Claudio Merulo (1533-1604), Francesco della Viola (?-1568) was opposed by two composers who were Venetian by birth: Baldassare Donato and Andrea Gabrieli (c.1520-1586). The last mentioned were leaders of the more progressive movement tending in striving to protect the value of local culture. Cipriano de Rore was the last Netherlandish Maestro di cappella at St. Marks’s from 1563-1564 and Claudio Merula in 1557 2nd organist and from 1566 the last first organist at St. Mark’s. Nevertheless Zarlino was maestro di capella from 1565 up to 1590 and was succeeded in that year by Donato up to 1603. The more progressive trend in the Venetian school was represented by composers such as Donato and Andrea Gabrieli. Andrea Gabrieli was appointed 2nd organist as from 1566, later 1st organist. From that time composer Gabrieli was able to develop his unique, grand ceremonial style, supported with a splendid acoustical space in St. Mark’s, which was enormously influential in the development of the polychoral/cori spezzati style and the concertato idiom in the Venetian school. Nevertheless Donato was an important figure in the development of Italian light secular music. Donato also published Villanellas, madrigals and a volume of motets in up to eight parts whith use of the Venetian plural choral effects. A lot of his sacred work has been preserved at St. Mark’s in Venice. See the editions made by the Illustro Cantores Sancti Marci Venezia in Venice.
Author:Wim Goossens
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis (picture)
Heu mihi Domine
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1599c
Musical form:Motet a 5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin Responsorium ad Matutinum de Officium Defunctorum
Label(s):Gloriae Dei Cantores GDCD 014
The Hei/heu mihi, Domine is a plainchant from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum, the Office of the Dead. This Respond from Matins of the Dead is set by Baldassare Donato for five voices (CATTB). The Responsorium Heu/Hei mihi, Domine is still published in the old Liber Usualis page 1791/92 and is sung after Lectio V in the second nocturne.
The Hei mihi, Domine is written by Baldassare Donato in a modest more conservative polyphonic counterpoint, using flats and sharps, and the chosen mode d-minor to express his feelings and to underline the wording of this Respond. In this case Donato didn’t use the belonging Verse “Anima mea turbata est valde sed tu Domine succurre ei: miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die.” For good understanding we have placed the not used text compared to the Liber Usualis between brackets, see below. Ad the end Donato uses the wording “et salva me”.
In this motet Donato uses a new polyphonic style starting with Tenor and Bassus followed by Quintus, Cantus and Altus. Donato didn’t use the strict imitative style of the Netherlandish in the Venetian school, but a more Palestrinian style. In bar 19, 20 and 21 Donato underlines the wording “Ubi fugiam” in using a strict homophonic style and an imitated Venetian polychoral/cori spezzati way, which is repeated in bars 26, up to bar 30. This total motet consists out of 36 bars. The Respond Hei mihi, Domini has been published in: Il 1° libro de motetti a 5-6 et 8 voci in Venetia, A. Gardano, 1599, in Venice.

♫ Heu mihi Domine
© Gloriae Dei Cantores GDCD 014
Author:Wim Goossens
R. Heu mihi Domine quia peccavi nimis, in vita mea:
quid faciam miser?
ubi fugiam nisi ad te Deus meus?
Miserere mei et salva me.
[dum veneris in novissimo die.]
[V. Anima mea turbata est valde sed tu Domine succurre ei:]
[R. miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die.]

R. Woe is me, Lord, for I have sinned greatly in my life.
What shall become of me, wretch that I am;
where shall I flee, except to Thee, O Lord.
Have mercy on me and bless me.
[when Thou shalt come on the last day.]
[V. My soul is greatly troubled but Thou, O Lord, sustainest me:
[R. have mercy on me when Thou shalt come on the last day.]
Contributor:Wim Goossens