List of Davide Perez's church music

Perez, David [Davide] (b Naples, 1711; d Lisbon, 30 Oct 1778) was recognized in his time as one of the greatest Italian composers. 18th-century critics ranked Perez with Hasse and Jommelli. Burney found 'an original spirit and elegance in all his production'. While he was essentially a transitional figure in 18th-century opera, he was nevertheless one of the great composers of opera seria. However it was in his later compositions for the church that Perez had the possibility to develop most his style. His is one of the finest corpus of music for the Roman Catholic rituals in the 18th century.

Not much is known about Perez's output. Consequently, during the research for my PhD dissertation (Mauricio Dottori, The Church Music of Davide Perez and Nicollò Jommelli. University of Wales, Cardiff, 1997), I felt the need to compile this list of his church music, and to make a few marginal observations on it.

The distribution of manuscripts copies of Perez's music depended necessarily on the prestige and on  the fortunes of the institutions that influenced its creation. The greatest number of his works, and most  of his autographs, remained in the two Portuguese royal chapels; the Ajuda library has the music  composed for the Ajuda Royal chapel, while the Fábrica da Sé of Lisbon cathedral has the music written for the Patriarchal chapel. Many copies of his music are to be found in institutions that, in the eighteenth-century, emulated musical practices of the royal chapels, such as the collections in Évora, Vila Viçosa, Braga and Viseu. The chapter of Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan cathedral is known to house music by Perez, that once belonged to the Portuguese royal chapel; but the archive is currently not open for consultation. Some of his music was used by Italian princely chapels, like the pieces within the Palazzo Pitti's collection, which belongs today to the conservatory of Florence; or the pieces which Perez composed for Neapolitan chapels, which are today in this city's conservatory.

Many pieces were originally collected by confraternities: this was the case with the ones that there are today in Palermo conservatory (originally from the Santa Casa degli Spersi), in the Filippini Oratorians archives in Rome and Naples, and part of the collections of the Biblioteca Nacional and the Fábrica da Sé (the pieces which came from the confraternity of Santa Cecilia) in Lisbon, and of the Neapolitan conservatory.

Holdings in other libraries are a result of the diffusion through the missionary work of the church: Perez's music reached Assisi through copies made in Lisbon, as a sign of devotion, by a franciscan, Alessandro Vivarelli, who had been a pupil of Francesco Zuccari, chapel master in the Basilica of Saint Francis. By its own nature, missionary work could take music to unsuspected places, such  as Pannonhalma in Hungary, where the Jesuit church of Györ (Raab) had, before the expelling of the order in 1773, a luxuriant musical life.

Some libraries have music that was copied by eighteenth-century chapel masters for their own use. This is the case of the copies made by Paolo Alfieri, in Noto, by Giovanni Simone Mayr, in Bergamo, and the only piece by Perez found in Spain, which was brought from Italy by Francisco Javier Garcia ('Lo Spagnoletto') who had been chapel-master in the Italian cathedral of Terni until his return to Zaragosa in 1756. This demonstrates how the two Iberian countries were culturally isolated from  each other during the second half of the eighteenth century.

A last group is formed by pieces that were amassed by music antiquarians, part of a new interest  in contrapuntal church music, that developed in the late-eighteenth century. Thus some of Perez's  music is found in the collections formed by the Roman Fortunato Santini in Münster, by Masseangelo  Masseangeli in the Bolognese Accademia Filarmonica, by Carl Proske in Regensburg, and Raphael G. Kiesewetter in Vienna.

This list of Davide Perez's church music grew up from the notes I took while studying the manuscripts in libraries. It has no pretension of being a definitive catalogue. For most pieces, I have provided information such as incipits of sections, number of bars, voices used or instrumentation, because I wished to keep for myself a good idea of the structure of each piece. Unfortunately in some cases, for music in libraries I was unable to visit, not even a minimal information was available, and I had to content myself with little more than the piece's title.
When information about the structure of each section of a piece was available it is shown in parenthesis, after the musical incipit of that section. If the next section is not differently described, then the information given for the previous section remains valid. Thus, for example, if one section has (SA conc, org/bc, 55 bars) assigned, meaning that one soprano solo and one alto solo sing with the choir and are accompanied  by continuo organ part for fifty-five bars, and the next one has (32 bars) assigned, then the same soprano and alto concertato setting is still valid for this latter section.

Pieces whose attribution to Perez remained uncertain, have their title in italics.

The list of works may be seen in PDF format downloadable from the link below. It has been divided in sections for easiness of download. Update paperback copies of the whole list (either together or not with the hardbound book The Church Music of Davide Perez and Niccollò Jommelli) may be bought at Please write also if you have (or want) any additional information about David Perez.