"Ecce, quomodo moritur justus" by J. Gallus and by Some of His Contemporaries

  • Jože Sivec


In the comparative study presented here the author first concentrates on "Ecce, quomodo moritur iustus" by the composers M. A. Ingegneri and L. Viadana and on Gallus' motet with the same text; the compositions have clearly features in common – compact homophony, syllabic and declamatory melody, clear articulation and formal disposition with refrain (aBaB). Especiall interesting is Ingegneri's composition, with its melody within the first six measures being nearly identic with that by Gallus. It appears that the two composers set to music this text at almost the same, or even at the same time – but each independently of the other. Although the degree of relatedness between Gallus' and Viadana's "Ecce, quomodo moritur iustus" is smaller than that between the corresponding compositions by Gallus and Ingegneri, here there can be found also some similarities concerning detailed points. Very different from the above mentioned motets "Ecce, quomodo moritus iustus" are in character and structure motets bearing the same title and composed by O. di Lasso, T. L. de Victoria, and C. Gesualdo da Venosa. Lasso 's and Victoria's motets are written poliphonically, but the composition by the Spanish master assumes through the constant use of imitation a rather more pronounced linear aspect. Something wholly specific is "Ecce, quomodo moritur iustus" by C. Gesualdo da Venosa, which distinctly shows already signs of mannerism and which is characterized by fragmentation of texture and the use of sharply contrasting elements within the narrow space. That in this context emerge, "forbidden" melodic intervals, cross-relations, chromatic third-relations and changes of tonality levels is perfectly understandable. Although our discussion here relates to compositions of artistic values, it is not difficult to decide to put first the compositions by J. Gallus and C. Gesualdo da Venosa as two eminent achievements of two great masters of their time. In both cases we feel the author's strong personal affection and powerful expression which are deeply moving. This is of course achieved by perfectly different means of expression and so the two compositions are very contrary to each other. Gesualdo's is emotionally fervent, restless, dramatically agitated and split up, but at the same time more complex and artistic in structure as well as richer in means of expression. As such it is in its message less direct and both for the performer and the listener more demanding. In spite of the personal commitment of the author, Gallus' "Ecce, quomodo moritur" is marked by classical serenity and at the same time by a kind of stoicism. Here the straightforward, logical and throughout tense structure is combined with a surprising intensity of expressiveness and a deep intrinsic meaning.


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How to Cite
SivecJ. (1985). "Ecce, quomodo moritur justus" by J. Gallus and by Some of His Contemporaries. Musicological Annual, 21(1), 33-49. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.21.1.33-49