Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Stabat Mater

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736) was an Italian composer, organist and violinist. His most popular works include the opera La Serva Padrona and his Stabat Mater. Pergolesi’s compositions include comic operas and sacred music. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 26.

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is a musical setting of the Stabat Mater liturgical sequence. He composed it in the final weeks of his life. It is scored for soprano and alto soloists, violin, viola and basso continuo.

The Stabat Mater is Pergolesi’s most celebrated sacred works. Many composers adapted the work, including Giovanni Paisiello. Paisiello extended the orchestral accompaniment. Joseph Eybler added a choir to replace some of the duets. Bach’s Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden is a parody cantata based on this composition.

The work is divided into 12 movements. Each is named after the incipit of the text.

The twenty heart-rending verses, in triple-lined rhyme, which compose the prayer, date back to the 13th Century. They are attributed to Jacopone da Todi (1236–1306).

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater opens with the exposition on the part of the orchestra, of the first theme, perhaps the most famous. It is the same melodic line on which the soloists will sing, in imitative style, the verse Stabat Mater Dolorosa.

The first and last parts of Stabat Mater were used in the soundtrack of the movie Jesus of Montreal (1989). The fifth part (Quis est homo) was used in the soundtrack of the movie Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997). The last part was also used in the movie Amadeus (1984) and in the movie The Mirror (1975). Cactus (1986) also features Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on the soundtrack. In the documentary on Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, Nothing Left Unsaid (2016), the last movement (Quando Corpus/Amen) was used.

Drs. Christiaan Janssens

CRO Akwa Wellness

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