Stabat Mater
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi


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Pergolesi is a Hall of Fame One Hit Wonder.

Just before the end of his extremely successful yet tragically short life, Pergolesi was commissioned by a band of artistic gentlemen to provide music for an annual Good Friday service in honour of the Virgin Mary. His Stabat Mater was the response. Its famous plaintive introduction, in which two singers sing so close to each other in pitch as to cause temporary dissonances, was meant to portray the pain of the subjects: each time the two singers come just one note apart, it creates a piercing sound, with each occasion representing the hammering of a nail into the body of Jesus. Poignantly, Pergolesi wrote these notes while in the throes of the tuberculosis that claimed his life.

Pietro Perugino's depiction (c. 1482) of Stabart Mater, the suffering mother - Mary, at the Cross.