Antonio Lotti

b. 1667

Despite composing more than 140 works of sacred music, twenty-three highly successful operas and numerous other works in a career of more than fifty years, Antonio Pasqualin Lotti is now known almost exclusively for only three works: his ‘Crucifixus’ settings for six, eight and ten voices. It is not widely known that these ‘motets’ are in fact parts of three settings of the complete Credo: the six-part setting comes from a Credo that is otherwise for double choir in G minor; the ten-part is from a Credo in D minor for four voices; the eight-part is from a Credo in F major for four voices. All three works have an accompaniment for strings and organ. Two of these settings – the eight-part and the six-part–were plucked from their place for inclusion in an 1838 collection of sacred music by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz (1769–1842), Sammlung vorzüglicher Gesangstücke vom Ursprung gesetzmässiger Harmonie bis auf die neue Zeit (‘Important Pieces from the Origin of Regular Harmony to Modern Times’), and as a result became popular throughout Germany and the rest of Europe.

From the age of seventeen until his death aged 73 in 1740, Lotti held a variety of full-time positions at the Doge’s chapel of San Marco in Venice. He also took a variety of freelance work, providing music and musicians for special occasions at many of the hundred or so churches on the island city. This would have included patronal festivals (for each church’s patron saint) or the investiture of Venetian noblewomen into a convent. Most of his ‘concert’ sacred music – for choir, soli and instruments – is likely to have been written for such festivities, when expense and extravagance were not spared, and the chance to write modern, daring music for Mass and Vespers was welcomed, rather than the more austere and devotional four-part choral works, backed by organ, that were the more usual fare at San Marco.