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Ep. 72—Stabat Mater—Francesco Cotticelli

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 08, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Stabat Mater, a medieval hymn that was long used as the sequence for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is now commonly sung between each Station of the Cross. This prayer, in which we ask Our Lady to help us experience the same sorrow and love with which she participated in her Son’s Passion, has been set to music by many great composers.

This episode explores the most famous and influential setting of Stabat Mater, completed by the 26-year-old Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) as he was dying of tuberculosis. An interview with leading Pergolesi scholar Francesco Cotticelli is combined with excerpts from the piece as recorded by La Nuova Musica (used with permission).


[2:11] The Stabat Mater text in the context of liturgy and Marian devotion

[6:30] Pergolesi’s bio and career

[9:30] Aria from L’Olimpiade (used with permission from Lyubov Petrova)

[17:37] Deathbed composition of the Stabat Mater

[18:52] Pergolesi’s place and innovations in sacred music of the time

[23:07] First movement, Stabat Mater dolorosa

[35:04] Second movement, Cuius animan gementem

[40:32] Pergolesi’s approach to text-setting: alternating between contemplation and action

[43:20] Sixth movement, Vidit suum dulcem natum

[50:35] Seventh movement, Eia, Mater, fons amoris

[56:45] Musical characteristics of the baroque and galant styles

[58:27] Ninth movement, Sancta mater, istud agas

[1:11:44] Popular settings of the Stabat Mater before Pergolesi

[1:12:49] Twelfth movement, Quando corpus morietur

[1:17:20] The somber ending to the piece: hope amidst sorrow

[1:20:30] Contemporary and later criticism of the piece for being too theatrical

[1:23:11] Other interesting settings of the Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater text

Recording by La Nuova Musica (featured in this episode)!/albums/2239

Also recommended: Recording by Concerto Italiano

Website devoted to settings of the Stabat Mater Petrova sings Aristea’s aria from Pergolesi’s opera L’Olimpiade

La Nuova Musica

Lyubov Petrova

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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