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Giammateo Asola
c.1528 - 1609
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G.M. Asola
Giovanni Matteo [Giammateo / Mathhaeo] Asola (ca.1532 - 01/10/1609), an Italian composer (born in Verona). He composed three settings of the requiem mass.
Source:http://www.cipoo.net and The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians
Missa pro defunctis
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1574
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
This mass in plainsong melody is for TTBB choir (4 voices equal). The polyphonic treatment illustrated by Asola and Pitoni's requiems is traced in Liszt's Totentanz.
Author:Joseph Yasser
Source:"Dies Irae: the famous Medieval chant." In: Musical Courier (6 October 1927)
This Missa pro defunctis contains:
01. Introitus: Requiem aeternam.
02. Kyrie: Kyrie Christe Kyrie.
03. Gradual: Requiem aeternam.
04. Tractus: Absolve Domine.
05. Sequentia: Dies Irae.
06. Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe.
07. Sanctus: Sanctus & Hosanna.
08. Benedictus: Benedictus & Hosanna.
09. Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei I, II, III.
10. Communio: Lux aeterna.

Asola is a representative of the Roman/Italian school like: Palestrina (1525-1594), Anerio (1560-1571), Vecchi (c.1550-1604). He was a pupil of Vincenzo Ruffo (1510-1587).
Of course in this small Missa pro Defunctis, in the title we saw Messa pro Defunctis, probably written in 1574, Asola made use of the plainchant in a short variety of forms. But there is by this Asola already other treatment of the text due to the Council of Trent as we normally saw, the style is close to the late works by Palestrina (1525-1594). Contrary to his Netherlands colleagues sizable proportions are written in homophonic style or even chordal style or very sober polyphonic style. Most of the movements in this Missa pro Defunctis are written for four male/equal voices, some The Gradual and Tractus for three equal voices (TTB & TTTB).
In the first movement the Requiem aeternam, Asola quotes parts of the Gregorian Plainchant in an uni sono way, and this movement contains 53 bars.
A smaller part - the first part of this Requiem - is written in a modest polyphonically way. This part of the Requiem finishes with a firm homophonic part in: “et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalam up to caro veniet”. Here you see already clearly the change in technique compared to the brilliant polyphonic style of his Netherlands colleagues. Imitation, independent rhythms, almost all contrapuntal devices have been nearly stripped away. Asola helps himself all through this Mass with homophonic and canonic passages, larded with brief sections of non-imitative texture.
The clear presentation of the text governs all through this Missa pro Defunctis and is characteristic of a certain end 16th century Mass-style.
The Kyrie contains 38 bars and is written in a modest polyphonic style and starts in a canonic form. The Christe and last Kyrië start briefly homophonic and changes into polyphonic manner up to the end. The Gradual in this case is used the text Requiem aeternam and not the Si Ambulem and is set for three equal voices TTB, contains 27 bars and is written in homophonic style. The same applies for the Tractus, Absolve Dominum set either for three equal voices TTB and contains 35 bars.
The Gradual and Tractus are since 1570 official part of the office of the Dead.
The Sequence, Dies irae is used by Asola like for instance Jacobus de Kerle (1531-1591 ) 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 149 bars and is written for alternating use uni sono and TTBB. The strophe with the odd numbers will be performed uni sono with the Plainchant. The straight numbers will be sung by several varied voices TTBB.
In “Ingemisco tanquam reus, Culpa rubet vultus meus;Supplicanti parce, Deus; translattion: I groan as one guilty, my face blushes with guilt; spare the suppliant, O God”, Asola follows the text in severe full homophonic style so he did the opposite in Confutatis maledictus now in a very delicate and gracious fluent polyphonic style.
In the phrase Pie Jesu, Asola uses long notes to accentuate the merciful Jesu! and is set following a conclusion ending with Amen in great E major.
The Offertorium is set for four equal voices TTBB, contains 99 bars and Asola quotes parts of the Gregorian Plainchant. The Offertorium is – due to the dramatic text - written in such an equal style in using a lot of sharps and flats. The first part has a modest polyphonic style; from “tu suscipe pro animabus” Asola uses a vast homophonic style. Asola omitted in this offertorium the normally used last sentence “Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini ejus”.
The Sanctus and Benedictus are very short respectively 26 and 17 bars and are based on modest polyphonic style with some independent rhythms and polyphonic movements in the beginning of the Sanctus/ Benedictus and Hosanna. Contrary to that the Pleni sunt coeli is homophonic ending with a short polyphonic Hosanna. The Sanctus starts with a short plainchant phrase.

The Agnus Dei I, II, III - 35 bars - start in each with a plainchant phrase, followed by homophonic style with some independent rhythm, nevertheless each dona eis requiem has polyphonic style.
In the Communio: Lux aeterna, Asola alternates in 45 bars with the plainchant uni sono followed by modest interesting polyphonic movements for TTBB. The Et Lux perpetua is vast homophonic ending up in a fluent polyphonic style. This Missa pro defunctis is published in Venice in 1574 Venetia : appresso li figliuoli di Antonio Gardano, 1574 and in 1576 by Gardano, Venezia, Missa pro defunctis aquattro voce pari (1576) and in nel 2.° libro delle messe a 4 voci pari.Ven. 1580.
Of course all the Missa pro Defunctis composed in the Renaissance period we saw are works written with deep devotion and painful hope, but in music terms they seems unbeatable most impressive. Nevertheless contrary to that Asola was really a prolific composer of sacred music, but mostly in a conservative style.
Author:Wim Goossens
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Messa per i morti
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1585
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Messa per i morti for four voices.
Officium defunctorum
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1588
Musical form:officium
Text/libretto:Latin Officium Defunctorum
Giovanni Mateo Asola sets this very large Office of the Dead, Officium Defunctorum for CATB in around 1588. This Office is without any doubt set by Asola for use in the Service. We only examined the large part-books CATB (each folio 53) of this Officium Defunctorum copied and produced not by one but by several editors in 1588 (parts CA), in 1593 (part B), in 1603 (part T) and in 1621 (parts CT).
OFFICIUM DEFUNCTORUM at the time of the 15th and 16th century, music for the Dead and the Requiem office we mean the Officium Defunctorum began to set polyphonically in the late fifteenth century. Iberian composers have adopted that practises we mention Juan Vásquez (c.1510-1560) with his Agenda Defunctorum (1556) and Cristobal de Morales (c.1500-1553) with his Officium Defunctorum, Ginés Pérez (1590), Tomás Luis da Victoria with his Officium Defunctorum (1605). But others from other countries too as we mention the first Italian Giovanni Mateo Asola (c.1528-1609) with his Officium Defunctorum (1586/1588), Domenico Belli (1616), Felipe Magalhaes (1614), Giacomo Moro (1599) and we do not forget the Sacrae Lectiones (1560) and Lectiones Sacrae (c.1580) for the Dead set by the Netherlandish Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594). It’s imposing music with real mysticism. The same applies for this large Office of the dead by Asola.
We couldn’t examine a source with some music out of an Officium Defunctorum by Asola printed in 1586 by Giacomo Vincenti & Ricciardo Amadino. That source was unfortunately not available. It could be this edition of the Office of the Dead may be set by Asola some years earlier. Asola sets this Office of the Dead in a polyphonic more homophonic way, which is normal for the use in the Service. You can find most of the text of this motets in the Liber Usualis (edition 1936) Officium Defunctorum. This piece by Asola is a real Office of the Dead with a wide scale of imposing polyphonic mysticism settings.
This Officium Defunctorum by Asola consists out of the following movements.
01. Ad Vesperas
02. Dilexi quoniam psalmus 114.
03. Ad Dominum cum tribularer psalmus 119.
04. Levavi oculos meos psalmus 120.
05. De profundis psalmus 129.
06. Confitebor tibi Domine psalmus 137.
07. Magnificat septimi toni
08. Lauda anima mea Dominum

09. Ad Matutinum, Invitatorium
10. Regem cui
11. Circumdederunt me, gemitus mortis
12. Venite exultemus

* In primo nocturno
13. Verba mea auribus percipe Domine, intellege clamorem meum psalmus 5
14. Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, neque in ira tua. miserere mei Domine psalmus 6
15. Domine Deus meus in te speravi psalmus 7
16. Lectio I. – Parce mihi Domine, nihil enim sunt dies mei
17. Lectio II . – Taedet animam meam, vitae meae
18. Lectio III. – Manus tuae fecerunt me, et plasmaverunt me totum in circuitu
19. Responsorium I. – Credo quod redemptor meus vivit, et in novissimo die
20. Responsorium II. – Qui Lazarum, resuscitasti
21. Responsorium III. – Domine quando veneris, judicare terram

22. Responsorium - Libera me, Domine de morte aeterna
23. Responsorium - Subvenite sancti Dei, occurrite angeli Domini
24. Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie
Canticum Zachariae, Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel

* Ad Missam
25. Requiem - Requiem aeternam
26. Sequentia - Dies Irae
27. Offertorium - Domine Jesu Christe
28. Hostias et preces
29. Sanctus - Sanctus, hosanna
30. Benedictus - Benedictus, hosanna
31. Motetto Adoramus te Jesu Christe
32. Agnus Dei - Agnus Dei I, II, III
33. Communio - Lux Aeterna

As we saw Asola sets the total Ad Vesperas, the evening songs (Liber Usualis p. 1772 -1776, edition 1936). Furthermore Asola sets only some select movements out of the Ad Matutinum, out of the Primo Nocturne and out of the closing of the officium defunctorum, the Laudes. So we have to search through the Liber Usualis. All the plainchant phrases/incipits will be sung by the Tenor, which is normal.
The responsoria Libera me, Domine de morte aeterna and Subvenite sancti Dei, occurrite angeli Domini are part of the Funeral service ‘In exsequiis’ page 1767 and 1765. The Kyrië is part of it followed by In paradisum and the Canticum Zachariae. The Litaniae of all saints is a special closing Antiphon which was prayed at the moment of receiving the last sacraments or at the In exsequiis. In the Burnet psalter (c. 1400-1450) we see in folio 242 to folio 244 a very old Litany/Litaniae. The lectio primum will be closed with “Beati mortui qui in Domo morientur,” Blessed are the dead who die in the grace of Lord. That’s not the normal closing of this Lecture.
After the Litaniae, Asola starts with the Missa pro defunctis. The Gradual and Tractus will be sung in plainchant.
Remarkable to see, Asola sets in this Officium a “Circumdederunt me, gemitus mortis”. The plainchant Circumdederunt is often especially used by Spanish composers in the Office of the Dead like de Morales( c.1500-1553), de Vivanco (c.1550-1622), Pedro Fernandez (1483-1574), Aires Fernandez (16th C.) and even Orlando di Lasso ( 1532-1594) did. As we saw it is set by them as an invitatory Antiphon (Invitatorium) for the Office of the Dead. So did here Giovanni Asola in the movement Ad Matutinum, Invitatorium. See the index above. For this purpose we made a transcription, in this case this Circumdederunt is a very short (Ms 15) Antiphon in a homophonic setting with some dissonant, flats and small movements in the Altus-part and is set in F.

Another interesting item is the by Asola added motet “Adoramus the Christe” sung between the Benedictus and Agnus Dei.
This motet is normally sung as an Antiphon in the Good Friday Liturgy, but here really set by Asola in all the part-books. This Antiphon has a long and venerable history as a prayer in and of itself. So Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604) recommended the uses of the Adoramus te Christe (in Liber Responsalis, PL 78, 805). This motet consists out of 38 measures. “Adoramus te Christe” is set in a homophonic way, in a low austere texture in using lots of flats, sharps and chord-changes, culminating in E-Phrygian.

The text and translation of this motet follows here:
Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi,
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
Domine, Domine, miserere nobis.
We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee,
because by thy holy cross, thou hast redeemed the world.
Lord, Lord have mercy with us.

This Office of the Dead is found only in part-books – and even not in a complete setting – and is collected together in the following four sources. Officium Defunctorum, quatuor vocibus, Per R. D Jo. Matthaeum Asulam Veronensem editum. - Venetiis, Apud Jacobum Vincentium. 1588. - in 8°. Canto e Alto {mancante della prima e ultima carta}. (Senza dedicatoria).
Officium Defunctorum Addito Cantico Zachariae. Quatuor vocibus. Per R. D. Jo: Matthaeum Asulam Veron. editum. - Venetiis Apud Riciardum Amadinum, 1593. - in 8°. Bassus. (Senza dedicatoria).
Officium Defunctorum |Addito Cantico Zachariae|Quator Vocibus| Per R.D. Io: Matthaeum Asulam Veron. | qeditum. [decoration] Venetijs apud Ricciardum Amadinum | MDCIII| Tenor.
Officium Psalmi et Missa Defunctorum addito Cantico Zachariae. Quatuor vocibus. Per R. D. Jo. Matthaeum Asulam Veronen. aeditum. - Venetiis 1621. Apud Bartholomeum Magni. - in 8°. Cantus et Tenor. (Senza dedicatoria).
Author:Wim Goossens
Missa defunctorum
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1599c
Musical form:Missa a tribus vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin out of Missa pro defunctis
This Missa defunctorum is set by Giovanni Asola for three equal voices (ATB) named Cantus, Tenor and Bassus. This Missa contains the following movements:
01. Requiem - Requiem aeternam
02. Kyrie - Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie
03. Graduale - Requiem aeternam
04. Tractus - Absolve Domine
05. Sequentia - Dies Irae
06. Offertorium - Domine Jesu Christe
07. Sanctus - Sanctus, hosanna, Benedictus, hosanna
08. Agnus Dei - I, II and III
09. Communio - Lux aeterna

We only examined the three manuscripts of the part-books edited at the end of the 16th century in Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica di Bologna. This Missa is worked out in three booklets (part-books) Cantus, Tenor, Bassus, each of eight pages only. The part-books have no front-page, nor any typographical note or year of editing. The title “Missa defunctorum Tribus Vocibus per D. Io. Matthaeum Asulam, nuper editam” is printed at the front of the first Page of each part-book. Below is written the music of this Missa Pro defunctis. This edition appears to be produced in Venice at the end of the sixteenth century. We only give an indication of this Missa not a comment on the movements.
The Requiem aeternam starts with the usual plainchant “Requiem “ followed by a polyphonic setting.
The following plainchant part out of this movement is “Te decet hymnus Deus in Sion.”
In the movement Graduale is used the text “Requiem aeternam” and not the “Si Ambulem” and is set for three equal voices ATB. The same applies for the Tractus, Absolve Dominum set either for three equal voices ATB. The Graduale and Tractus are with this text since 1570 official part of the office of the Dead. We already saw here in the website the use of an earlier particular Gradual-text (Si Ambulem) among others by the Netherlandish composers like Ockeghem (c.1420-1497), Divitis (c.1473-c.1528), de Févin (1473-1512), Prioris (c.1460-c.1514), Richafort (1480-1547), Claudin Sermisy (c.1490-1562), Benedictus Appenzeller (c.1480-1558aft) and Lassus (1532-1594). This use depends before 1570 on and vary per region. For instance and on the other hand the Spanish Polyphonists and Engarandus Juvenis (16th Century) use, the now known Graduale-text ‘Requiem aeternam’, page 1808 Liber Usualis (edition 1936) nor did use the Gradual-text but other parts of the Proper’s for instance ‘Tractus sicut servus’ like Pierre de la Rue ( 1460-1518) did. Before the reforms of the Council of Trent (1543-1563) there were diverse alternative texts for the Proper’s of the Mass of the Dead in use which differs per region. Nowadays we use ‘Requiem aeternam’.

The Sequence, Dies irae is used by Asola like for instance Jacobus de Kerle (1531-1591) did in following the orders and the concluded implementation of the Dies Irae in the Office of the Dead by the Council of Trent. Asola sets the odd strophes in a flowing polyphonic way ATB. The even-numbered strophes will be plainchant, sung in this case by Tenor, which is normal. Only the last even strophe “Pie jesu” has a polyphonic setting. The sequentia Dies Irae : Liber Usualis page 1810 (edition 1936) causes a lot of discussions whether or not this is a proper text belonging to the funeral Services. In fact the Dies Irae is now and sometimes in the 15th and 16th Century (see Antoine Brumel c.1460-c.1513 ) an excellent plainchant which melody is often used. So did Asola and Jacobus de Kerle.
The Offertorium “Domine Jesu Christe” and the Sanctus, Benedictus are set in a polyphonic way.
The threefold Agnus Dei starts with plainchant by Tenor. The Communio “Lux aeterna” is set in a polyphonic way with two plainchant phrases “Lux aeterna” and “Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine.”
This Missa defunctorum is found in: Missa Defunctorum Tribus Vocibus per D. Io. Matthaeum Asulam nuper editam. in 4°. Cantus (A) Tenor (T) Bassus (B). In tutto opuscoli tre. RISM no. A/1: A-2609. Biblioteca della musica di Bologna edited at the end 16th century, by an unknown editor.
Author:Wim Goossens
Si bona suscepimus
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1600
Musical form:Motet a 8 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from a Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum
This Si bona suscepimus is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum Responds from Office of the Dead known and used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 87. One of the two corresponding Versicle from the Office of the Dead “ Nudus egressus” number 156 is even used among others by Jacobus Clement (1515-1556), Gombert (c.1495-c.1557), Jacquet de Mantua (1483-1559), Lassus (1532-1594), Lechner (1553-1606), Ivo de Vento (c.1544-1575), Gioseffo Zarlino (c.1517-1590), Thomas Verdelot (c.1475-1552) and Thomas Selle (1599-1663). The other belonging Versicle is number 307 “Gloria Patri”. On the other hand Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) and Claudin de Sermisy (1490-1562) used only the Respond version without the Versicle-part so did Constanzo Porta (1529-1601) as we will see. Another third version is seen with the Versicle “In omnibus” Job Chapter 1, Vers 22 and is even produced in very old sources. And finally there is a fourth version with the Versicle “Testa saniem radebat Job.” It is known the use of Responds and Versicles of The Office of the Dead vary per region all over Europe. This particularly Respond is used and found in the series of Deventer Holland and preserved in the University of Amsterdam. And the more general type (Respond-Type 25) to which this Respond belongs is spread in the area under the Ottonian and Salian emperors the counties of Lower Lorraine, of Flanders, Champagne and the northern part of Holland. In general the text is coming out of the Book Job, chapter 1 verse 21 and chapter 2 verse 10. The choice of texts especially the use of the Versicle and the order in which they occur in the sources all around Europe vary according to local uses. This text setting is found in Deventer in a source out of 1516 and this Respond is sung at the end of the third nocturne.
This Respond - consisting out of 65 measures - is set by Giovanni Matteo Asola for two lower choirs (ATTB x ATTB). Asola admired the coro spezzati style, spatially separated groups of singers, from the Venetian composers developed by the Netherlandish composers. According to normal Plainchant practises the last sentence of the Respond in this case as from “ Dominus dedit ..” will be repeated. So did Asola in his setting.
Choir I starts with imitative lively polyphonic pieces (Bass, TI, T II and Alt) in Italian style. Choir II answers with same polyphonic motives. The choirs exchange each other’s in polyphonic and in homophonic phrases – answering each other - culminating the two choirs together in a polyphonic understatement “sit nomen Domine benedictum”. In measure 38 starts the Versicle “Nudus egressus sum” in a more modestly manner. As from measure 50 the repeat of the proscribed part of the Respond “Dominus dedit…” with two choirs starts in a same way and same score as we saw before (from measure 22). Asola mixes up in this motet the style of Roman school (Palestrina 1525-1594) with the Venetian school. That means imitative contrapuntal style balanced by brief homophonic sections but in this setting in coro spezzati style. This motet is set in A-Phrygian mode.
This motet is published in Sacrosanctae Dei laudes octonis vocibus infractis decantandae,Venezia, Amadino,1600.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text Si bona suscepimus:
Si bona suscepimus de manu domine, mala autem quare non sustineamus?
Dominus dedit dominus abstulit sicut domino placuit ita factum est. Sit nomen domini benedictum.
V. Nudus egressus sum de utero matris meae, nudus revertar illuc.
R. Dominus dedit dominus abstulit sicut domino placuit ita factum est. Sit nomen domini benedictum.

R. If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not endure evil?
The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away: as it has pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
V. Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.
R.The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away: as it has pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Contributor:Wim Goossens