Move Over, Spem in Alium
Forget Spem, forget Striggio's Ecce beatam lucem--there's a new 40-part piece in town, thought to have been lost for centuries. The piece is Striggio's Missa sopra Ecco si beato giorno, recently rediscovered by UC Berkeley's Davitt Moroney. It's been sitting in the Biblotheque National in Paris for ages, mis-catalogued. The final Agnus Dei is actually in sixty parts, and the entrance of each choir is in stretto. The piece is probably the most complex in all the polyphonic liturature. I got to see a facsimile of the manuscript yesterday when Dr. Moroney presented a paper about his discovery at the American Musicological Society conference here in Los Angeles. No one has performed it yet, but I bet it's amazing.
Hopefully Dr. Moroney will publish a paper on it soon. It would be great if I could tell you the whole story of this fantastic composition--involving Striggio, his master Francesco di Medici, Archduke Maximilian II, Albrecht V of Bavaria, the King of France, the Queen of England, and a midwinter trek over the Alps--but I'm sure I wouldn't get the chain of events quite right.