The life of Pevernage took place within the confines of three cities which hold a special place in our musical history: Kortrijk, Bruges, and Antwerp.
Pevernage received a musical education in the choir of the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk. On January 21st 1563 he was appointed kapellmeister for the St-Salvator Cathedral of Bruges. This allows us to conclude that the young Pevernage was already held in some esteem. Bruges would prove to merely be a prelude. When eight months later the same positions opened up in the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk, Pevernage did not hesitate in returning to his hometown. He spent the majority of his career in Kortrijk and wed Maria Maecht in 1574. He was witness to the religious wars, which led to the Great Iconoclasm (beeldenstorm) in 1566 and the destruction of the Church of Our Lady in 1574. When in the same year the city was taken by the Geuzen Pevernage, a calvinist, fled Kortrijk and moved his family to Antwerp, where he remained for a year. Hereafter he was made song master in Bruges. On October 29th 1585 he returned to Antwerp because to start work as song master for the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp. One of Pevernage’s tasks was to rebuild the Cathedral’s music library which had been plundered and set aflame by the Geuzen. Pevernage held this position until his passing in 1591, he was buried in the Cathedral.
Pevernage was a productive composer of both religious and profane music. His surviving portfolio counts no less than 235 pieces, of which 115 are religious pieces and 120 are profane. No specific instrumental music of his is known.
His surviving portfolio consists of, inter alia, six five to seven-part masses, which were published posthumously in Antwerp in 1602. This in addition to a collection of motets, published under the title cantiones sacrae (1578), alongside profane pieces in honor of the aristocracy (including Margaret of Parma), a collection of 14 Marian antiphons, also published posthumously. Stylistically they represent the late sixteenth century practice of interchanging use of homophonic and polyphonic parts. They use a group of alternating voices like in the cori spezzati (double choir). The influence of the Venetian school, represented by Adriaan Willaert and Giovanni Gabrieli, was thus becoming felt in the Low Countries.
Pevernage also wrote Italian madrigals. In the meantime, madrigals set to Italian lyrics had become very popular in the North of Europe. In addition to this, the French chanson appears in Pevernage’s oeuvre. These were published in four separate books. These chansons even include arrangements of the Genevan protestant psalter songs. The chansons make use of syncopes, melisma and complex rhythm.
Pevernage and other composers from Antwerp, such as Hubertus Waelrant and Cornelis Verdonck, put the texts of Brabantian verses by Jonker Jan van der Noot to music, but none of this has been preserved.
Vocal work (selection)
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