1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Victoria, Tommasso Ludovico da

VICTORIA (or Vittoria), TOMMASSO LUDOVICO DA (c. 1540–c. 1613), Spanish musical composer, was born at Avila (unless, as Haberl conjectures, his title of Presbyter Abulensis refers not to his birthplace but to his parish as priest, so that his name would indicate that he was born at Vittoria). In 1573 he was appointed as Maestro di Cappella to the Collegium Germanicum at Rome, where he had probably been trained. Victoria left Rome in 1589, being then appointed vice-master of the Royal Chapel at Madrid, a post which he held until 1602. In 1603 he composed for the funeral of the empress Maria the greatest requiem of the Golden Age, which is his last known work, though in 1613 a contemporary speaks of him as still living. He was not ostensibly Palestrina’s pupil; but Palestrina had the main influence upon his art, and the personal relations between the two were as intimate as were the artistic. The work begun by Morales and perfected by Palestrina left no stumbling-blocks in Victoria’s path and he was able from the outset to express the purity of his ideals of religious music without having to sift the good from the bad in that Flemish tradition which had entangled Palestrina’s path while it enlarged his style. From Victoria’s first publication in 1572 to his last requiem (the Officium Defunctorum of 1605) there is practically no change of style, all being pure church music of unswerving loftiness and showing no inequality except in concentration of thought. Like his countryman and predecessor Morales, he wrote no secular music;[1] yet he differs from Morales, perhaps more than can be accounted for by his later date, in that his devotional spirit is impulsive rather than ascetic. His work is the crown of Spanish music: music which has been regarded as not constituting a special school, since it absorbed itself so thoroughly in the Rome of Palestrina. Yet, as has been aptly pointed out in the admirable article “Vittoria” in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Roman music owes so much to that Spanish school which produced Guerrero, Morales and Victoria, that it might fairly be called the Hispano-Roman school. In spite of the comparative smallness of Victoria’s output as compared with that of many of his contemporaries, there is no mistaking his claim to rank with Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso in the triad of supreme 16th-century masters. In any extensive anthology of liturgical polyphony such as the Musica Divina of Proske, his work stands out as impressively as Palestrina’s and Lasso’s; and the style, in spite of a resemblance to Palestrina which amounts to imitation, is as individual as only a successful imitator of Palestrina can be. That is to say, Victoria’s individuality is strong enough to assert itself by the very act of following Palestrina’s path. When he is below his best his style does not become crabbed or harsh, but over-facile and thin, though never failing in euphony. If he seldom displays an elaborate technique it is not because he conceals it, or lacks it. His mastery is unfailing, but his methods are those of direct emotional effect; and the intellectual qualities that strengthen and deepen this emotion are themselves innate and not sought out. The emotion is reasonable and lofty, not because he has trained himself to think correctly, but because he does not know that any one can think otherwise.

His works fill eight volumes in the complete edition of Messrs Breitkopf and Härtel.  (D. F. T.) 

  1. One French song is mentioned by Hawkins, but no secular music appears in the prospectus of the modern complete edition of his works published by Breitkopf and Härtel.