Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785), if remembered at all, is largely known today for his early comic operas. However, he was employed as maestro di cappella at St. Mark’s in Venice for many years and also worked at one of the infamous Ospedali in Venice, as did Vivaldi, Lotti, and many others. Thanks to these posts, Galuppi left behind a wealth of sacred music that has, until the last 20 years or so, been largely forgotten. Straddling the late Baroque and early Classical eras, his works are heavily representative of the galant style, which makes much of it very accessible. While editors have only scratched the surface in producing modern performing editions of Galuppi’s works, this week’s post will discuss two works that are very accessible to choirs.
The first is one of his many settings of the “Dixit Dominus” text, written in 1775 and set for choir and strings in three short movements connected by similar melodic material. The first and third movements are largely homorhythmic, with only very brief moments of imitation and paired duets. The second movement, however, is much more polyphonic, featuring entering dissonances not unlike those by the aforementioned Vivaldi and Lotti and a mini-fugue. While there are several modulations, the piece is largely diatonic, and when I taught it, singers learned it almost entirely in solfege. Rhythms are simplistic but never boring, and most of the vocal ranges are very appropriate to singers high school-age and beyond. “Dixit Dominus” is actually available for both SATB and SSAA, with Galuppi having set both (one for the Ospedale and the other for St. Mark’s). A good string section or accompanist will be required, but this piece will be highly satisfying for both singers and audiences. Both editions (by David Larson) are published by Roger Dean and are available here.
The second is a bit more challenging but no less accessible with a large enough women’s chorus for SSAA. It is Galuppi’s “Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi”, and it has been recently edited by Jill Friedersdorf and Melissa Malvar-Keylock. Unlike “Dixit Dominus”, this piece is written more in the older style, with all parts entering separately, many instances of suspensions and other dissonances, and near-constant polyphony. Notes and rhythms are not difficult, and the range of each voice part is largely comfortable. There are many opportunities in this piece to teach phrase-shaping, balance, and intonation. If you want to give your women’s chorus something really fun to dig into, give them this piece! It is published by Hal Leonard and is available here.
If you are really ambitious and want to head over to Galuppi’s page at IMSLP, there are scanned photos of dozens of his manuscripts just waiting to be rediscovered and edited. Maybe you will find something that we can all use!
Brandon Moss is a choir director, teacher, and composer/arranger living and working in Central Ohio. He teaches at Central Crossing High School, directs the Chalice Choir at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, and serves in leadership roles with the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Ohio Music Education Association. He is currently working on the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting at The Ohio State University.