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There was a time when composers of music considered it a greater success to do well in a mass, in a psalm, [or] in a hymn, than in entire operas. [Perhaps this success was because these composers] were moved by true religious feeling or they expected [sacred] compositions to be less subject to the caprices of fashion; or because of [these works’] more learned style (almost inadmissible in dramatic music) and because they do not repeat themselves many times in a row, as it usually happens in operas, [which] saves them from becoming too common and trivial. At that time every Italian school produced very celebrated masters, who were and still are models for all nations, to the great honor of our homeland.