Bernadette Nelson

‘The Lisbon Requiem’: Contexts, Traditions, Development, Influences

It seems likely that the polyphonic Requiem mass in late 16th- and early 17th-century Portugal largely arose out of a necessity to supply music for the exequies of monarchs, princes, members of the nobility and dignitaries. It may therefore have been written in a relatively short space of time for a particular occasion, although a composer/chapelmaster would in any case have anticipated the need for such a work as part of his duties. These works would inevitably conform to expected norms or patterns of the time, but at the same time reflect individual responses to these set patterns as also indeed influences from pre-existing settings. In the case of Manuel Cardoso, for example, it would seem that his six-voice setting (printed 1625) relied on his working of his four-voice Requiem (printed much later, in 1648), which in turn shows relationships with 16th-century settings, including that of his teacher Manuel Mendes and a much earlier traditional fabordão style which was the backbone to most settings of the three mass ordinary items included in the Missa pro defunctis. Similarly, the Requiem by Filipe de Magalhães (printed 1636) sometimes shows extremely close relationships with the idiom of Cardoso (particularly harmonic), but it also displays certain unique features which distinguish it from those of his contemporaries, including possible allusions to contrapuntal patterns of a much earlier era. In addition, the set of 17th-century ‘Lisbon Requiems’ demonstrate an increased interest in chromatic alterations of the plainchant ‘cantus firmus’ line, thereby contributing to a more dissonant and intense harmonic idiom in some of these works. This paper considers the evolution and development of the Requiem mass by Lisbon composers from the late 16th to the mid-17th century, focusing on the masses of Cardoso and Magalhães.