Composer born in Palestrina (Italy). In 1537, he was admitted to the choir of Santa María la Mayor, where Firmin Lebel (maestro di cappella of the basilica since 1540) took him under his protection. Then he began to study and sing the works of Josquin des Prez, Jean Mouton, Pierre de La Rue, Antoine Brumel and franco-flamencos and Italian masters. In 1544, he was organist of the Cathedral of his hometown; and when in 1551 the Palestrina cardenal-obispo rises to the papal throne under the name of Julio III, it makes call to Rome, where it would be master of children in the Basilica of San Pedro and singer of his private chapel. In 1555, he begins the papal mandate of Pablo IV, who sends you to remove from the list of Papal singers all married men, among whom he was. He then went on to San Juan de Letran, and in 1561 he was appointed to Santa María la Mayor. In the following years, he was director of music education at the Roman Seminary, created by Pablo IV after the Council of Trent (1563), and was in the service of Cardinal Hipólito d'Este. In 1571 he was again called to San Pedro, where he was second maestro di cappella and he stayed for twenty-three years. He was a friend of San Felipe Neri, founder of the oratory, and appreciated by the Popes Julio III, Marcelo II, Gregorio XIII, Sixto V and Gregorio XIV. His work exerted great influence on his contemporaries, being their direct disciples their children, as well as Giovanni Andrea Dragoni (in 1576 maestro di cappella of San Juan de Letran) and Francisco Soriano (in 1587 maestro di cappella of San Luis de los Franceses)
Recognized throughout Europe as the first composer of his time, he wrote over ninety masses, and more than five hundred motets, and lamentations, hymns, magnificats, and more than a hundred madrigals, sacred and profane. His music was regarded as the pinnacle of vocal polyphony and its style, as the art of the composition "a cappella". At masses left the best of his art. Most (43) are built on a cantus firmus, drawn from plainchant (for instance in Lauda Sion, Veni Creator Spiritus); in another 30 is based on fragments of madrigals and motets (Assumpta est, Ascendo ad patrem); four on popular songs (such as Sine nomine); five are written in canon (Ad fugam), while the rest were written on original songs or unknown authors. The motets include, among others, the compositions in honor of a Virgin, the Salve Regina, multiple versions of the Ave María, of Alma Redemptoris Mater and, above all, the famous Stabat Mater for eight voices.