• Tomás Luis de Victoria is considered the greatest polyphonist of the Spanish Renaissance. Born in Ávila around 1548, he joined the city's cathedral choir in 1558, where he began his musical studies in theory, plain song, counterpoint, composition and organ. In 1565, he entered the Collegium Germanicum in Rome as a singer. He is probably a pupil of Palestrina, of whom he has two sons for comrades. In 1569 Tomas Luis da Victoria became organist of the two Spanish churches in Rome, Santa Maria in Monserrato and San Giacomo degli Spagnoli.
  • His theological as well as musical studies led him to the priesthood (he was ordained in 1575). He succeeded Palestrina as chapel master at the Roman Seminary (1571-1572) and then became chapel master at the Collegium from 1573 to 1578. From 1578 to 1585, he was chaplain of San Girolamo della Carità and joined the priests of the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri and met the Spanish musician Francisco Soto de Langa (1534-1619).
  • In 1579 he was called as chaplain to the sister of King Philip II of Spain. He remained for 24 years in the service of Empress Marie of Austria, daughter of Emperor Charles V, widow of Emperor Maximilian II of Austria and sister of the king. Victoria returned to Spain definitively in 1596. He was appointed singer and then organist at the Royal Discalced Convent in Madrid, where his protector, Empress Marie, and his daughter Marguerite retired. On the death of her benefactor in 1603, Victoria wrote a masterpiece, Officium defunctorum, a six-voice requiem mass, dedicated to Margaret of Austria, daughter of the late empress.
  • Refusing the offers of the largest cathedrals in Spain, he wanted to remain a simple organist of the convent and end his life away from official functions. He died almost forgotten in 1611.
  • His work, entirely religious, constitutes one of the treasures of Spanish music. It consists of several collections entitled Motecta, Books of Masses and Psalms, Magnificats, Motets for all the festivals of the year.  
  • Besides the Office for the deceased already mentioned, we can mention the masses Ave maris stella (1576), O magnum mysterium (1592) y Laetatus sum (1600), the motets O vos omnes and Vidi speciosam (1572) and especially at the top of his art, the Office for Holy Week, Officium he weekly of sanctae (1585).
  • © Didier Chagnas