Lôbo’s Requiem

Duarte Lôbo (1565 – 1646) was a Portuguese composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque. Along with Filipe de Magalhães and Manuel Cardoso, composers who all began their academic studies as students of Manuel Mendes, his music represents the “golden age” of Portuguese polyphony.

Lôbo later became Mestre de capela at Évora before moving to Lisbon where he served in the same capacity at the Hospital Real and, by 1594, at the Cathedral. He kept the latter post for over forty years, much honoured by the Royal Court, and became the most esteemed and widely performed Portuguese composer of his time.

Much of his music was destroyed in the terrible earthquake of 1755, so his image is somewhat fuzzy, biographically and musically. From what survives he seems to have been relatively renaissance-based, even by Portuguese standards, preferring single-choir polyphony to double-choir antiphony.

Even his eight-voice Requiem (published in 1621), though originally printed for two separate choirs, in fact has few passages where all eight voices are not employed together. No doubt influenced by Victoria, Lôbo likes a deep sound, going with an SAATTB arrangement; he gives the chant to a single soprano, using long notes. His music uses long, sensuous phrases, quite distinct from other Renaissance music.

He was by most accounts the most widely performed Portuguese composer of his time.

All of this makes it rather surprising that his music is virtually unknown in the UK. We were one of the first choirs in the UK to perform the Requiem in the year we went on tour to Portugal. We will be performing parts of it on 27 February. Visit concert page.