The pre-eminent composer of 16th Century Spain and a leading light in music of the Counter-Reformation, Victoria travelled to Rome in 1565 thanks to a grant from King Philip II, where he studied with Palestrina and was later ordained a priest. In 1587 he returned to Spain, where he served as chaplain to the Dowager Empress Maria. Victoria’s music is marked by an austere yet emotionally direct style, with an intense impression of drama, contrast and communication. His Officium Defunctorum was written upon the Empress’s death in 1693 and remains perhaps his most celebrated work. The recording by the Collegium Vocale Gent under Philippe Herreweghe evokes its sober and radiant soundworld.