Kerle, Jacobus de

Jacobus de Kerle (c.1531-1591) is an important, though not very well-known composer of the Renaissance. There are very few data about his youth and education. Fram the year 1555 he lived and worked in Italy in a church of Orvieto, and in 1562 he was employed by the archbishop of Augsburg who attended the Tridentine Council. For this Council De Kerle composed 8 responsories called Preces speciales, ordered by his employer the cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, as an example of the new church music and its rules given by the Council as part of the Counter Reformation. One tried to win back the people that had run to Luther and Calvin by making the church music more transparent, and with less densely composed textures. Palestrina has been given the credits for initiating the new church music rules, but it was De Kerle who wrote his Preces, 15 years earlier than Palestrina wrote his Missa Papæ Marcellæ in 1575. De Kerle was less talented than Palestrina, but his uncomplicated lyrical style may have saved polyphony from exile out of the churches. De Kerle’s Missa Ferialis is from an earlier date than the Council, and breathes more the usual polyphonic style of the first half of the 16th century.
Cees Wagemakers, 2019