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The city of Prague has a distinguished history as a musical center. Its golden age was in the late 16th and early 17th centuries when it was the capital of the vast Hapsburg realm and the seat of government of the Holy Roman Empire. Emperor Rudolf II moved his court there in 1576 and the city remained the center of authority until the outbreak of the Thirty Years War in 1618. Although enjoying mixed success on the political side, Rudolph was a generous patron of the arts and sciences.

The musical chapel of the court was headed by Philippe de Monte, who continued as Kapellmeister until his death in 1603. He was born in Mechelen in 1521 and made his way to Naples, Rome, and Antwerp. One of the century's most prolific composers, he excelled in all genres, particularly in five- and six-voice motets. The joyous six-voice motet Hodie nobis coelorum Rex reflects something of the splendor of Rudolph's imperial court.

- Joseph Jennings