Born in either 1530 or 1532, Orlando di Lassus was only in his mid 20s when he published his first book of motets. Il Primo de Mottetti a cinque & a sei voci of 1556 contains 17 motets; 12 in five voices and five for six voices. Having only recently arrived in Antwerp, many of these motets must have been written whilst Lassus was still in Italy. The collection is notable since four of the motets are based on “secular” texts; they are not taken from the liturgy but are in honour of contemporary figures of patronage and influence.
The reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, was at this time nearing its end (he abdicated in 1556 and died two years later), although this may not yet have been apparent to many including the young Lassus. An ideal career move for the talented young composer on his return from Italy in 1554 would have been to join the Emperor’s prestigious Capilla Flamenca. In Heroem Soboles Lassus addresses Charles directly and refers to his popularity and musical importance.
In 1556, with career aspirations in mind, Lassus approached one of the most remarkable musical patrons of the time Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, Bishop of Arras (later Archbishop of Mechelen and Cardinal), with his newly published collection of motets. Granvelle was a minister to, and a representative of, the Holy Roman Emperor. Lassus was either unsuccessful in his aspirations towards the Capilla Flamenca or events overtook such a possibility. He was soon appointed to the court of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in Munich and only seven years later he became musical director. He remained in this post for the next four decades until his death in 1594.
Heroem Soboles is written in six parts for full choir; the low pitch and narrow compass of only 20 notes give it a rich sonority. Lassus’ close engagement with the text, both rhythmically and harmonically, result in a spacious and splendid setting.
Il primo de mottetti a cinque & a sei voci nuouamente posti in luce. 1556.
The collection is inscribed In Anversa Per Ioanne Latio.
There are 17 motets in all: 12 for five voices amd five for six voices. Heroem Soboles is number 14 in the collection.
Editorial Procedures and Conventions
Notes on Performance
Transposition upwards by a tone has created a scoring for soprano, two altos, two tenors, and bass.
The relatively narrow compass (20 notes in total) would make performace at a lower pitch possible by ATTBarBarcB where the lowest note for the bass part would be E.