Iacobus Gallus and the mystery of authorship

Who is the author of the Ave Maria motet for 4 voices?

Towards the end of December 2001 I received a copy of the latest edition of Gallus' manuscripts, and saw to my great surprise the Ave Maria motet under number 6 in the collection: It is a composition I had always presumed to be the work of Tomas Luis da Victoria. 

How had the work had been ascribed to the Spanish composer?  Prominent Spanish musicologist Felipe Predrell had in 1913 published the eighth book of Victoria's complete works (Obras Completas, Volumen III, Leipzig) and had included this motet. As its only source he cited that it had been extracted from 'some old manuscript' (de un antiguo manuscrito). When a newer edition of Victoria's works was subsequently prepared by Higinio Angles, the motet was conspicuous for its absence. It is not to be wondered at therefore, that having followed Pedrell's earlier edition of Victoria's works we had wrongly cited Victoria as the author of this composition.

As the SAZU publication does not provide a close study of the motet I decided to thoroughly analyze it in order to determine whether the authorship is Victoria's or that of our own Gallus. In doing so, I made a comparative study with the other four Ave Maria motets of Gallus (OM I.70, double choir for 8 voices: OM IV.39, six voices: OM IV.73, five voices, ad aequales: in manuscript for six voices (in the SAZU 1996 edition musicologist Rudolf Flotzinger on pages XI and XVIII incorrectly cites only two motets of Gallus, omitting the already published OM IV.73): and with Victoria's motet for eight voices and double choir, published in 1572.

Some of the discoveries made in the analysis are as follows:

1)    The name of Gallus appears in the manuscript (the MAMS edition provides a facsimile of this page).

2)     The manuscript is located in the University library of Graz, a city much closer to Gallus' extended homeland than Rome, where Victoria had been active.

3)     The text of the motet for four voices (the traditional Ave Maria prayer) is the same as that of the motet for six voices, also Gallus' work, and located in the same library.

4)     The score employs four chromatic tones - F sharp, H, E flat, and C sharp. Gallus frequently proceeds in such a manner - the four tones are found in 66.4% of his works - but Victoria does not.

5)     The different voices answer each other: the tenor and bass in 8-10 time, the soprano, alto and tenor in 10-12 time. Gallus often used such melodic interventions, as for example in Dies sanctificatus OM I.60,  which is melodically very similar. Victoria does not use such interventions.

6)     In this motet ternary mensuration was used, which is common to a fifth of all Gallus' motets. This is  much more than is evident in Victoria's works. Moreover the Spaniard never used ternary mensuration in a short work such as this. (Jan Andres,'Iacobus Gallus,introduccion a su musica' 1997, pp.46-47)

7)     Repetition of musical themes: the measures 19-22 are repeated in the measures 23-26, and the measures 27-28 are repeated in the two measures following, 29-30. Victoria repeats the wording, but with a new musical design or theme, while Gallus repeats the musical motifs in almost every motet.

8)    The use of the eighth (which also has its own text) changes the melody and with this also the harmony.     Victoria never does this. The direct use of 'short' figures like the eighth and sixteenth is one of     Gallus' most important musical     characteristics, and which distinguishes him from other musicians of the     Renaissance era. (Jan,A., op.cit. pp47-48)

9)    In this motet diverse voices employ the same rythm except in the measures 1-5, 12-17, and 34-37, when the voices move in the same rythm two by two. The composer thus employs the voices in 'classic' polyphony in only fifteen measures (out of forty): in the remaining measures the voices create harmonies.This is usual with Gallus, as his music is more harmonic (vertical) while with Victoria the voices sing more in linear     fashion, melodically.

10)    The motet ends in the harmonic major and augmented third. Again this procedure is usual with Gallus but not with Victoria, particularly as this motet is for four voices. Victoria often ends a motet for four without the third.(Jan,A.op.cit.p49-50."Amongst the motets there are only two (0.5%) which end with the minor chord.Fourteen motets (3.7%) display a final chord without the third. The remainder conclude with the major chord, often with the augmented third. The final chords may also have 2, 3 or even 4 thirds chromatically altered). The final major chords are more frequent in Gallus' compositions than in those of his contemporaries like Lassus, Victoria and Palestrina.

11)    There are very few 'empty' chords (as for example in measures 3,6,8,10,18,32). Although there could be an     empty chord in the following measures 4,7,12,22,26,36,38, Gallus employs the chromatic melodic extension in different voices in order to arrive at the accord with the third (measures 12,22,26,38). This too is one of Gallus' chromatic characteristics. Victoria never uses this extension.

12)    At the end of the melody the voice ascends in the following measures: 4,7,12,16,22,26,36,38. Meanwhile     Victoria usually uses a descending melody.

13)    In the measures 21-22 and 25-26 there is in the text a hemiolo, which is characteristic of Gallus' work.     (Jan,A.op.cit.pp46-47: "when Gallus uses tripartite mensuration he almost always writes a hemiolo at the     conclusion of the melodic phrase. The hemiolo was 'fashionable' in the Baroque, even before the change     from     ternary to binary mensuration. We first see it in the Credo of the Mass Elizabeth Zachariae, SQM     II,2: while the most original is found in the motet Ecce concipies OM I,24").

14)    The Gregorian intonation with which the motet begins is as unusual for Gallus as for Victoria. Gallus has     it only in the manuscripted motet Veni Sancte Spiritus, but we do not find it in the OM. Meanwhile both     composers used Gregorian intonation in the Gloria and Credo of the Mass.

15)    This motet has many melodic variants in common with the motet for six voices (from the same archive) and     the Ave Marias published in the Opus Musicum, I.70; IV.39, (but not to the composition OM IV.73). In the     attached sample of measures a comparison is made between the motets for four and six     voices, with two of     the motets established to be by Gallus). Meanwhile there is no musical similarity between Victoria's motet     for eight voices and the manuscript Ave Maria motet for four.

16)    The manuscripted Ave Maria for six voices may serve as the bridge between the score for four voices and     two Ave Maria motets of the OM, see above. In the score for six we find these characteristics of Gallus:     eighths with independent text and changing of melody (and with it the harmony): use of the augmented fifth accord, measure 25 (Jan,A.op.cit.p49): sequential accords in three places (Jan,A.op.cit.p52) in the measures 24-25 (B,C,and D major), measures 33 (D minor, C and B major), and in measures 33-34 (D,C,and B major):leap of the fourth in measure 39 (Jan,A.op.cit.p34):four altered notes: and major     concluding accord.

It is thus possible to conclude from this musical and textual analysis that Gallus was the author of the Ave Maria motet for four voices.

Translated into English by Sonja Vadnjal 


*(manuscript was published by MONUMENTA ARTIS MUSICAE SLOVENIAE in Ljubljana, 1996)