He essayed various types: the archaic tenor Mass; the paraphrase Mass; the Mass erected on hexachord and other contrived subject; and the "parody" Mass, which elaborates a preexistent polyphonic model.
Palestrina never did complete this laborious task, and the Medicean Gradual of the early 17th century, sometimes thought to be his work, is actually the labor of others.
Palestrina's voluminous works encompass the most important categories cultivated in the late Renaissance: Masses, motets, and madrigals.
He also approved Palestrina's appointment as choirmaster at the church of St. But stringent economies and political intrigues made it difficult for him to achieve his artistic aims.
John Lateran, where Roland de Lassus had been active only the year before. After a particularly unpleasant incident about food and lodging for his choirboys, Palestrina left his post without notice.
Of these three the madrigals played a small role, for his orientation was overwhelmingly on the side of sacred music.
His 250 motets include settings of psalms and canticles, as well as exclusively liturgical items such as 45 hymns, 68 offertories, 13 lamentations, 12 litanies, and 35 Magnificats.
He was not modern in the same way as his Venetian colleagues with their polychoral pieces.
His fuller identification with the older Franco-Flemish masters, however, made him the representative of that illustrious group best remembered by posterity.
Palestrina's reputation makes it likely, however, that he was consulted on decisions about music.
We do know that his works were performed before, and approved by, Cardinal Borromeo, who was charged with securing a liturgical music free of secular tunes and unintelligible texts.