Stabat Mater (Pergolesi)

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Stabat Mater is a musical setting of the Stabat Mater sequence, composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi in 1736.[1] Composed in the final weeks of Pergolesi's life,[2] it is scored for soprano and alto soloists, violin I and II, viola and basso continuo (cello and organ).


Many pieces which were said to have been composed by Pergolesi have been misattributed; the Stabat Mater is definitely by Pergolesi, as a manuscript in his handwriting has been preserved.[3] The work was composed for a Neapolitan confraternity, the Confraternita dei Cavalieri di San Luigi di Palazzo,[4] which had also commissioned a Stabat Mater from Alessandro Scarlatti.[5] Pergolesi composed it during his final illness from tuberculosis in a Franciscan monastery in Pozzuoli, along with a Salve Regina setting[1][2], and, as it is said, finished it right before he died.


The Stabat Mater is one of Pergolesi's most celebrated sacred works, achieving great popularity after the composer's death.[6][7] Jean-Jacques Rousseau showed appreciation for the work, praising the opening movement as "the most perfect and touching duet to come from the pen of any composer".[8] Many composers adapted the work, including Giovanni Paisiello, who extended the orchestral accompaniment,[9] and Joseph Eybler, who added a choir to replace some of the duets. Bach's Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden is a parody cantata based on Pergolesi's composition.

The work was not without its detractors. Padre Martini criticised its light, operatic style in 1774, and believed it was too similar to Pergolesi's comic opera La serva padrona to adequately deliver the pathos of the text.[10]


The work is divided into twelve movements, each named after the incipit of the text. Much of the music is based on Pergolesi's earlier setting of the Dies irae sequence.[3]

  1. "Stabat Mater Dolorosa", Grave, F minor, common time; duet
  2. "Cujus animam gementem", Andante amoroso, C minor, 3/8; soprano aria
  3. "O quam tristis et afflicta", Larghetto, G minor, common time; duet
  4. "Quae moerebat et dolebat", Allegro, E-flat major, 2/4; alto aria
  5. "Quis est homo", Largo, C minor, common time; duet
    —"Pro peccatis suae gentis", Allegro, C minor, 6/8
  6. "Vidit suum dulcem natum", Tempo giusto, F minor, common time; soprano aria
  7. "Eja mater fons amoris", Andantino, C minor, 3/8; alto aria
  8. "Fac ut ardeat cor meum", Allegro, G minor, cut common time; duet
  9. "Sancta mater, istud agas", Tempo giusto, E-flat major, common time; duet
  10. "Fac ut portem Christi mortem", Largo, G minor, common time; alto aria
  11. "Inflammatus et accensus", Allegro ma non troppo, B-flat major, common time; duet
  12. "Quando corpus morietur", Largo assai, F minor, common time; duet
    —"Amen..." Presto assai, F minor, cut common time


  1. ^ a b Sadie, Julie Ann (1998). Companion to Baroque Music. p. 75.
  2. ^ a b Randel, Don M. (1996). The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music. p. 681.
  3. ^ a b Andriessen, Louis; Schönberger, E. (2006). The Apollonian Clockwork: On Stravinsky. p. 66.
  4. ^ Van Boer, Bertil H. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Music of the Classical Period. p. 435.
  5. ^ "Giovanni Battista Pergolesi". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  6. ^ Will, Richard. "Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and the Politics of Feminine Virtue" (PDF). The Musical Quarterly. 87 (3). doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdh021.
  7. ^ Steinberg, Michael (2006). Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide. p. 115.
  8. ^ Brook, Barry S. (1983). Pergolesi: research, publication and performance. The present state of studies on Pergolesi and his times. November 18–19, 1983, Jesi, Italy.
  9. ^ "Giovanni Paisiello". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  10. ^ Heighes, Simon. "Giovanni Battista Pergolesi". BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2013.

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