Victoria, O magnum mysterium musica ficta
The Question: Does the "O Beata" stay major as in most editions or go
minor as would appear to be the case in the Walton/Westenburg
Edition? Thank you for your interest everyone.
The answer appears to be - stay major.
The evidence: a jpg of the cantus part of the 1572 collection of
Victoria motets which was sent to me by William Witmer (I'll forward
to you if any of you like) and the following from James Feiszli:
I did a lecture on the many editions of this motet at the 1994 North
Central ACDA convention. I've spent the morning digging out my notes
and transparencies to give you some clear background. I have some of
the early print parts of O Magnum from the 1583 printing done in Rome
while Victoria was there. There was an earlier printing in Venice
(Gardano) in 1572 and I have the cantus from that.
There is no change of mensuration or notation at the Beata. The actual
notation for both is a semibreve at the end of "praesepio" followed by a
semibreve rest and then a dotted semibreve on the "O" beata. Your
question, of course, concerns the soprano part. The raised semitone is
in the Venice edition - meaning that it was at least done in practice at
The best (meaning "most musicologically accurate") edition on the market
is Ellen Beebe's published by Broude Brothers. All the rest are based
on the very awful edition by John Finley Williamson at Westminster Choir
College, still published by Schirmer, and made famous by that
institution's choir. Every edition on the market except for the Broude
is in the same key as the Williamson - four flats - which is a third
higher than the original.
> Does anyone know what the justification is for this? Although
> barlines were not used there is a grand pause just before and
> the raised third is notated again on Vir of Virgo which
So, in answer. There is no justification for any grand pause. The
semitone indication is accurate.
Dr. James D. Feiszli, Director of Music Activities
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Thank you everyone,