Palestrina (d. 1494)

Compiled by Jerome F. Weber

Unlike any other discography published on this website, this is a work in progress for the section on motets, as noted below. The identification of recordings of titles that have multiple settings awaits access to the recordings in libraries. Recordings of eleven texts that have been set multiple times have been placed in the Supplement (page 109), as noted in each case; other unidentified recordings are found in the main list. Also added to the Supplement are titles that are not found in the works list in The New Grove High Renaissance Masters.

I am indebted to Christian Zwarg (Berlin) for a list of the acoustic recordings and to Alessandro Argentini and Pekka Gronow for assistance with the SEMS/Musique au Vatican and Syrena labels. Clara Marvin’s discography in Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina – A Guide to Research (New York and London: Routledge, 2002) has proved useful. Michael Gray has been most helpful in addition to the content of his database (

A. The Palestrina Masses have existed as a working list for many years. The list has been completed using the recordings and other sources of information, refreshed from the original records and newly reformatted to match the Du Fay and Josquin des Prez discographies previously posted on this website. The Masses are numbered as in Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance (Norton, 1954), 470-72, with the addition of Missa Tu es Petrus à18 and the collaborative Missa Cantantibus organis, but arranged alphabetically with the generic titles placed first. Only 77 of 107 Masses have been recorded, including an arrangement (no. 22) and five incomplete recordings; four others were only issued on LP (including Missa Tu es Petrus à18) and nearly a score of other Masses are available only on single obscure CDs.

B. The discography of the Magnificat was first published in Fanfare in November 2018. The expanded edition was first published on this site in January 2019. Palestrina set the Magnificat 35 times. Sixteen settings for four voices were published by Gardano in 1591, the first eight in each mode setting the odd verses in polyphony, the other eight in each mode setting the even verses polyphonically. The next eight settings for four voices in each mode (called “Book 2”) are preserved in Cappella Giulia MS 16 (now XV 22). The next eight settings for up to six voices in each mode (called “Book 3”) are in the same source. These sixteen all set the even verses polyphonically. Three more settings are identified below; these include the most popular recorded setting in the vinyl era (for four equal voices) and the most popular in the CD era (for eight voices, uniquely through-composed). Sixteen settings remain unrecorded.

The Magnificats were included in the complete works edited by Raffaele Casimiri (1880–1943), volume xvi, and Franz Xaver Haberl (1840–1910), volume xxvii. The discography is arranged by number from 1 to 35 as in the Casimiri edition, but I used the Haberl edition online (there the order of the last three settings is different). For each setting, the chant tone is followed by the number of voice parts, then the page numbers in the two editions.

Invaluable assistance in completing the work has come from John Blyth (Brandon, Manitoba), Bill Cowdery (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY), Marco Della Sciucca (L’Aquila, Italy), Hildegard Haltrich-Hazard (Hochschule Franz Liszt, Weimar, Germany), David Hiley (Regensburg, Germany), Noel O’Regan (Edinburgh, Scotland), Jane Rodgers (Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand), Peter Shirts (Emory University, Atlanta, GA), Lawrence M. Earp (Madison, WI), James Farrington (Sibley Music Library, Rochester, NY) and Michael Gray.

C. The discography of Offertoria was published on this site in March 2019. Palestrina published 68 offertories for the whole liturgical year in 1593, the year before he died. They are regarded as exceptional gems, first recorded as early as 1924, but twenty offertories still remain unrecorded in sung versions. The works are alphabetized, numbered in the order of the original publication, and cited in the Liber Usualis. A detailed study of these offertories is Harold S. Powers, “Modal representation in polyphonic offertories,” Early Music History, 2 (1982), 453-86.

D. The discography of motets, madrigals and instrumental works has been newly compiled for this publication. As noted, many motet titles were set more than once, even for the same number of voices. A few unrecorded motet titles are listed only for disambiguation. The Haberl edition online and the Marvin discography cited above proved useful for identification of some duplicate texts. At least 180 motets have been recorded, and some records that have not been identified may raise that count.

The recordings of each work are arranged chronologically, citing conductor, ensemble, date of recording if known, and timing if available; then the format of the recording (ac, 78, 45, 33, LP, 45LP, LP quad, MC, CD, SACD, DVD), the label name, the issue number(s), matrix [mx.] numbers of shellac recordings, titles of collections, and track or band numbers.
Additions and corrections may be conveyed to the compiler for inclusion in a revised version of the work. Go to and click on ‘contact us’. A scan of a CD booklet that provides needed data would be invaluable.

Masses, generic titles, page 3
… specific titles, page 7
Magnificats, page 25
Offertoria, page 29
Canticum Canticorum, page 40
Lamentationes, page 45
Responsoria, page 47
Motets, page 49
Litania, page 99
Madrigals, page 100
Instrumental works, page 107
Supplement, page 109

PMMS Palestrina Discography November 2020

March 2019; November 2019; revised November 2020

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