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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 6 (2000) No. 1

Asprilio Pacelli, Ludovico da Viadana and the Origins of the Roman Concerto Ecclesiastico

Noel O'Regan*


In his Cento Concerti Ecclesiastici of 1602 Lodovico da Viadana spoke of others having already published imitations of his work. A print which he might well have regarded as a rival is Asprilio Pacelli's Chorici Psalmi et Motecta (Rome, 1599), hitherto largely overlooked. Although published without an organ part, it is clear from Pacelli's foreword that organ accompaniment was essential, and Pacelli further recommends leaving out one of his four vocal parts for a better effect; his foreword has interesting things to say on a number of performance and patronage issues. In this article Pacelli's publication is placed in the context of his employment at the Collegio Germanico in Rome and of the development of the Roman small-scale concerto with organ during the 1580s and 1590s. Rome is viewed here as a more forward-looking center in this development than has hitherto been recognized, with Viadana perhaps having learned more from Roman musicians during his stay there in the late 1590s than he was prepared to admit.

1. Introduction

2. Asprilio Pacelli's Chorici Psalmi et Motecta Of 1599: The Foreword

3. Few-Voiced Singing With the Organ in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome

4. Asprilio Pacelli and the Collegio Germanico in Rome

5. Asprilio Pacelli's Chorici Psalmi et Motecta of 1599: The Music

6. Early Examples of Roman Concerti by Other Composers




List of Music Examples

1. Introduction

1.1 The publication of Lodovico Viadana's Cento Concerti Ecclesiastici of 1602 has long been seen as a turning point in the development of Italian sacred music, doing for the church repertory what the publications of Caccini and Peri did for secular music. Although published in Venice, its contents—pieces for from one to four voices and basso continuo—were said by the composer to have been written in Rome in 1596-7. In his preface Viadana states:

I saw that some of these Concerti, which I composed five or six years ago when in Rome . . . found such favor with many singers and musicians that they were not only found worthy to be sung again and again in many of the leading places of worship, but that some persons actually took occasion to imitate them very cleverly and to print some of these imitations [...]1

While attempts have been made to identify imitators in the north of Italy—Gabriele Fattorini, for instance2—no one has hitherto tried to find any in Rome. The first known Roman publication of small-scale concertato motets was Agostino Agazzari's Sacrae Cantiones (2, 3, 4 vv) of 1606; Giovanni Luca Conforti did publish the first of his three volumes of Salmi Passaggiati in 1601,3 but as embellished falsibordoni for soprano, these are different from the bulk of Viadana's concerti (Viadana did include some embellished solo falsibordoni in the 1602 Concerti).

1.2 There is, however, one Roman publication which Viadana might well have seen as rivaling his own: Asprilio Pacelli's Chorici psalmi et motecta quatuor vocum, Liber primus, published in Rome by Nicolo Mutii in 1599 (RISM A/I [Einzeldrucke vor 1800], P26). This print anticipated Viadana's achievement in many ways, but its neglect over the past four hundred years has distorted our understanding of the nature of the early Roman small-scale concertato motet and the chronology of its development.

2. Asprilio Pacelli's Chorici Psalmi et Motecta of 1599: The Foreword

2.1 The full text of Pacelli's foreword is given in Italian and in English translation in the Appendix.4 It is an important document bearing witness to various aspects of Roman music and its profession at the end of the sixteenth century. The introductory statements about the wooing and rekindling of devotion among the middle nobility and nobles, particularly by combining voices with instruments, is significant, as is his estimation of the new esteem in which the profession of musician had come to be held in Rome during the 1580s and 1590s (see below). But perhaps the most important sentence comes towards the middle:

I have thus resolved, for the satisfaction of many, to publish this book of psalms and motets, composed more as concerti with organ, such as is nowadays the custom in Rome for spiritual delight, so that they can entertain piously, rather than as ordinary church music (musica ordinaria di cappella).

Pacelli here makes a clear distinction between concerti with organ and musica ordinaria di cappella, the latter presumably meaning standard unaccompanied polyphony. He states that by 1599 concerti with organ were customary in Rome, and this clearly applied to the repertory found in his publication: Vesper psalms, Magnificats, Marian antiphons and motets with Blessed Sacrament and Passion texts. While no organ part was included, Pacelli makes it clear in the foreword to the publication that organ accompaniment was essential. He goes on to give further instructions as to the performance of his concerti, which are all for four voices, apart from one Magnificat setting for three:

Since not everyone will have voices appropriate for singing these works, the skilled organist should bear in mind that, according to the voices which are available, almost all of these compositions can be easily transposed downwards, or upwards, in various ways as is judged convenient, according to the abilities of the singers at hand. Also, although they are written for four [voices], some of them will make a better effect if sung by three, e.g. two sopranos and a bass. Note, however, that if the transposition is very low, the same bass part can be sung an octave higher by the bass or by another voice.

Particularly significant is the encouragement to leave out the middle voice, even though this has been provided and texted. This suggests a parallel with John Walter Hill's recent work on monodies from the Roman-Neapolitan orbit: continuo-accompanied madrigals by composers such as Bartolomeo Roy and Sebastian Raval (both of whom worked in Rome and in Naples) were published in dual-purpose format by Pietro Maria Marsolo in 1614, as four-voice pieces and as solo madrigals with continuo accompaniment; Hill argues that all of the pieces must have been composed before 1600.5 What Pacelli effectively says is that, while he has used the customary four-voice partbook format in publishing his 1599 pieces, that is not necessarily the only or even the best way of performing them. He advocates leaving out one voice: it would not be beyond the spirit of his foreword to leave out further voices and perform his pieces as duets or even solos.

2.2 Pacelli's foreword contrasts sharply with what Viadana had to say in his introduction:

I saw that singers wishing to sing to the organ, either with three voices, or two, or to a single one by itself, were sometimes forced by the lack of compositions suitable to their purpose to take one, two, or three parts from motets in five, six, seven, or even eight. . . . These . . . are full of long and repeated pauses . . . and sometimes separated by repeated breaks which render the style of performance either imperfect, or wearisome, or ugly and far from pleasing to the listeners.

For Viadana, the Roman habit of abstracting parts for available voices from pieces conceived for larger forces is "imperfect or wearisome;" Pacelli positively recommends it as far as his own pieces are concerned, saying that they will sound better if sung by three voices, without the middle part. Pacelli is clearly echoing existing Roman practice, and there is a body of evidence suggesting that this had been going on for twenty years and more before Viadana's publication.

3. Few-Voiced Singing with the Organ in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome

3.1 The earliest such reference comes from a letter written by Ignatius Loyola in 1556: "Here there is a mixture of figured singing and that with organ," and a few days later, "here we have both types of singing."6 This implies a clear distinction between unaccompanied polyphony and singing by one or more soloists with the organ, analogous to the distinction made by Pacelli in 1599. References to singing with the organ (con organo, su l'organo, in organo) are especially frequent in the liturgical diaries of the Jesuit-run Collegio Germanico from 1583 onwards.7 For example, during the Forty-hours devotion in January of that year two or three soloists sang some melancholy motets, including settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, on the organ every hour or so, which "gave great devotion to all." In April a motet was sung "on the bourdon alone (or on some flute) with two or three voices," while on June 9th, in place of the Deo Gratias after the Benedicamus Domino, a short motet for two voices was sung nel organo. This practice seems to have been encouraged by Michele Lauretano, rector of the Collegio Germanico from 1573 until 1587: his biographer Schrick tells us that he was happy if "now and then, either one voice alone, or several more supple voices, took, together with the organ, some particular verse, either from the psalms or the sacred hymns."8 The assumption must be that the singers took one, two or more parts from an existing motet, with the organ supplying the missing parts—an indication that this was becoming a common, acceptable practice. On the other hand, there is evidence that this was not always satisfactory, as when Palestrina's Nos autem gloriari for four voices had to be sung by three because the director of the choir had failed to organize the fourth voice—but this may well have been a performance without organ. If it were with organ, then the criticism does echo Viadana's dissatisfaction with Roman practice.

3.2 Other evidence for small groups of singers with the organ comes from the German national church of Santa Maria dell'Anima where, for a visit by Pope Gregory XIII in 1580, one scudo was paid to the maestro Gerardo Villarius to pay the singers who sang in organis.9 Later evidence comes from San Pietro in Vaticano where the Ordini of 1605 (n. 45) ruled that if a singer is called a cantar su l'organo while the pope is coming down [in procession] to San Pietro, he should obey immediately or be fined the considerable sum of one giulio; this indicates that by this date the motet sung by the Cappella Giulia quando passa il papa was being sung at least sometimes by soloists with organ.10 On the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi in 1606 the maestro Francesco Soriano was paid three scudi for three papal singers who made up a choir nell'organo; this might, however, refer to a polychoral performance, where it was common for one choir, made up of solo singers, to sing with the main organ.11 At San Spirito in Sassia in 1604 a contract with the organ builder Stefano Blasi asked that the organ should be adapted "so that the singers can stand around the balcony [of the organ] without damaging the said balcony, removing only the bellows and placing them where they will be more convenient."12

3.3 All of this would suggest that the practice of having small groups of singers performing with organ accompaniment was long established in Rome, and particularly at the Collegio Germanico, by the time Viadana came to the city in 1596-7. The incumbent maestro di cappella at the Collegio at that time was none other that Asprilio Pacelli and he was still there when his Chorici Psalmi et Motecta were published in 1599. Pacelli was the man on the spot, by then one of the leading figures in Rome's sacred musical world, and there may well have been some rivalry between him and the visiting Viadana.

3.4 Despite the derogatory remarks in his preface about the Roman practice of abstracting vocal lines from larger-scale compositions, Viadana may well have learned more from the Romans than he was prepared to admit. It is possible to turn the received view, as articulated in Viadana's foreword and accepted by subsequent historians, on its head and see Viadana as having learned from Roman composers rather than vice versa. The wording of both men's forewords, with self-deprecatory references to the urgings of friends as the only reason for publishing, smacks of the Peri-Caccini-Cavalieri rivalry over who was first to use the stile recitativo in Florence; such claims and counter-claims are common to periods of new breakthroughs and need not necessarily be taken at face value.

4. Asprilio Pacelli and the Collegio Germanico in Rome

4.1 Asprilio Pacelli is a good example of the new breed of Italian composer who made the most of the opportunities available from the increased demand for sacred music following the Council of Trent, moving continually from one Roman institution to another in an upwardly-mobile search for greater reward. He was born in Vasciano near Narni to the north of Rome in the late 1560s13 in a region which produced a number of important composers during the period (Giovanni Maria and Giovanni Bernardino Nanino, Francesco Soriano, Domenico Massenzio and Tullio Cima). Pacelli's entrance into the musical world of Rome may have been eased because of his presumed relationship to (probably nephew of) Fulginia Pacelli, also from Narni, the wife of Maurizio Anerio, who was a trombonist with the papal band at Castel Sant' Angelo and the mother of the two composing Anerio brothers, Felice and Giovanni Francesco. She was also on very friendly terms with San Filippo Neri.14

4.2Pacelli entered the Cappella Giulia as a boy in February 1581 and continued to sing under Palestrina until August 1582. 15 He is next heard of as maestro di cappella at the Arciconfraternita del Gonfalone from about July 1587, where he was in charge of a small choir of four singers as well as organizing music for the many special feast days celebrated by that confraternity.16 His presumed cousin, Felice Anerio, had organized music at the Gonfalone in the early 1580s,17 so there may well have been some family influence at work in obtaining Pacelli's appointment there. The fortunes of that choir fluctuated because of financial difficulties, and in 1591 Pacelli moved to the Arciconfraternita della Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini e Convalescenti as its maestro di cappella; while there supervised that confraternity's attempt to build up its choir to a strength of six men and some boys.18

4.3This choir too fell victim to financial stringency, and Pacelli left in 1594 with rancor over an unpaid bill: he went so far as to obtain the signatures of two of the most influential maestri of the time, Andrea Dragoni (San Giovanni in Laterano) and Francesco Soriano (Santa Maria Maggiore) on an affidavit spelling out how much he should have been paid for organizing music on Santissima Trinità's two major public occasions, the feast of the Trinity and the Corpus Christi procession.19 He had already invoked the services of a notary in 1590 in order to obtain overdue payment for himself and his singers for the month of October at the Gonfalone.20 While at Santissima Trinità he continued to organize feast-day music at the Gonfalone and took on the same role for the Spanish church of Santa Maria di Monserrato between 1589 and 1593, sharing the task with Felice Anerio, among others.21 In 1595 he was again in dispute with the Gonfalone over payment for the Holy Thursday procession, but this seems to have been resolved without recourse to legal action.22 Pacelli was clearly someone of a litigious nature, capable of standing up for his rights and keen to get ahead in the competitive world of Roman institutions whose ambitions for music on a grand scale often ran ahead of their ability to pay.

4.4 Pacelli's early, considerable experience was gained in establishments which struggled to maintain a choir of even four singers—just the sort of situation, in fact, mentioned by Viadana in the foreword to his Cento Concerti Ecclesiastici. He would have brought to his first major appointment as maestro di cappella at the Collegio Germanico in 1594/5 a strong awareness of the need for flexibility and experience in trying out new practices at the two confraternities.23 He was to remain there until 1602, when he moved to the even more prestigious Cappella Giulia. After only a year he was recruited by the King of Poland and moved to Warsaw as maestro di cappella, where he remained until his death in 1628.24 The Chorici Psalmi et Motecta was his second publication, having been preceded by the eight-voice Motectorum et Psalmorum, Liber Primus in 1597.

4.5 At the Collegio Germanico Pacelli succeeded Annibale Stabile, who himself had been the near successor of Tomás Luis de Victoria as Moderator Musicae. Under the close supervision of the rector, Michele Lauretano, both composers had trained all of the students in plainchant and twenty or so of the more talented ones in polyphony. Lauretano was keen to involve the students as much as possible and retained a certain distrust of the newer trends in Roman church music. According to Schrick he was always careful lest

nimble and effeminate voices of men, and the soft instruments of musicians should disturb the gravity of the divine offices. For, although at certain sacred assemblies, the flatteries of such singing may be profitably used from time to time, to please the listeners, and to restore the waning devotion of men of the world, propriety [cannot], however, be maintained if [such abuses] be put in the ecclesiastical offices which are to be solemnly performed either by canons, or, even much more, by religious orders. Wherefore he [Lauretano] thought those things should be better relegated to oratories and festive assemblies of sodalists.25

It was, of course, precisely in the oratories and festive assemblies of two of the most important brotherhoods (or sodalities) in Rome that Pacelli had been working before coming to the Collegio. After Lauretano's death, his successors allowed more professional singers to be employed (there were seven by 1592), especially basses and sopranos, where the students were least strong. The students continued to sing some polyphony and, through an emphasis on alternatim performance, to sing as much plainchant as possible; at the same time the professional singers were available for concerti with organ. All is this is reflected in Pacelli's 1599 publication.

5. Asprilio Pacelli's Chorici Psalmi et Motecta of 1599: The Music

5.1Table 1 lists the contents of Pacelli's Chorici Psalmi et Motecta: there are ten Vesper psalms, three settings of the Magnificat and a Nunc Dimittis, four Marian antiphons and four motets. The bulk of these settings are specifically liturgical music: psalms, canticles and Marian antiphons (though the last could also be used in non-liturgical devotional circumstances). Of the four motets, one is Marian (Felix es Sacra Virgo) and the others set Eucharistic or passion texts, which would have been particularly appropriate for the Forty-hours devotion (O sacrum convivium, O vos omnes and Christus factus est).

5.2 All of the psalms and canticles are for alternatim performance with plainchant, so only every second verse is set to polyphony. There is an extra partbook (the copy in Regensburg, Bischöfliche Zentralbibliothek was printed in 1601) containing the Choir II parts (all ATTB) for optional 8-voice settings of the doxologies only, except for the secondi toni Magnificat, where the print says to use the Gloria Patri of the first Laudate Pueri setting, also in secondi toni. In his foreword Pacelli promised a second volume which was to contain risposti, presumably settings of the alternate verses. If this were subsequently published, no trace of it survives. There is thus a great amount of flexibility built into the publication, which must reflect a similar adaptability at the German College during the 1590s. It is exactly this flexibility which is reflected in both Pacelli's and Viadana's forewords, whatever the difference in emphasis. Pacelli's concerti were reprinted in Germany in 1608, ahead of the 1609 German printing of Viadana's Concerti (though without the additional Choir II parts). Historically, Viadana was given the credit by writers such as Praetorius and Mattheson in the development of the sacred concerto, and we now have no way of judging what effect Pacelli's publication might have had at the time.

5.3 There is only one piece for fewer than four voices in the 1599 print—a three-voice Magnificat. This too is an alternatim setting, with the odd verses set polyphonically. The piece is brief and very simple. The opening half verse(Example 1) has the two upper voices singing a duet over the alto foundation; it would be in accordance with Pacelli's flexible instructions to transpose the latter down an octave or simply play it on the organ. In verse 7(Example 2) the three parts act more independently and highlight the two opposing phrases that make up the verse by using a striking contrast in note values as well as strong dissonance in the first half-verse.

5.4 Pacelli's setting can be compared directly with Viadana's three- voice Magnificat from the 1602 Concerti. Viadana also sets the odd verses in polyphony, stipulating that "il choro risponde a questo salmo con un falsobordone." Viadana's opening half-verse(Example 3) is more old-fashioned than Pacelli's, with the three voices equally integrated into the imitation; the organ, as in the rest of the setting, simply acts as a basso seguente. Viadana continues to base his setting—as does Pacelli for the most part—on imitative writing, aside from verse 7, whose setting is homophonic, including falsibordoni (Example 4). Unlike Pacelli, Viadana uses different combinations of voices in each verse, an unusual procedure which means that more than three singers are needed.

5.5 It is instructive to compare Pacelli's and Viadana's settings with Giovanni Animuccia's three-voice Beata es Virgo from his pioneering Il primo libro de madrigali, a tre voci . . . con alcuni motetti, et madrigali spirituali of 1565(Example 5). Animuccia's setting, while largely imitative, used the same contrast between a pair of upper voices and a lower one, which happens to be at alto pitch but could easily be sung or played an octave lower on the organ. In a real sense Viadana's and Pacelli's innovations of the 1590s had been anticipated by Animuccia thirty years earlier. Equally instructive is a comparison with Felice Anerio's canzonetta spirituale, Jesu decus angelicum, of 1585(Example 6) with the same pairing of two upper voices on a tenor foundation and virtuoso melismas in the top parts on canticum.26 Both of these examples show plausible origins for the Roman sacred concerto in the devotional music for small numbers of singers written for performance in Roman oratories during the early post-Tridentine period.

5.6 Neither Pacelli nor Viadana was interested in exploiting the possibilities of the basso continuo as an independent entity; even in Viadana's duets the organ slavishly follows the lower of the two parts. Only in Viadana's solo pieces for non-bass voices does the organ act independently, and even then there is no material difference between the styles of the vocal and organ parts, making them in effect duets based on imitation between voice and organ. Indeed, one could turn them into just that simply by adding text to the organ part. This is exactly what Viadana does in the case of his Duo Seraphim, for two sopranos: at the words tres sunt he writes on the basso continuo part: "qui l'organista suona e canta"! This example is analogous to what John Hill calls "madrigals in reduced polyphony" found in manuscripts associated with Cardinal Montalto and his circle.27

5.7 What of Pacelli's recommendation that some of his four-voice pieces would "make a better effect if sung by three, e.g. two sopranos and a bass"? A good example is supplied by the third verse of the opening piece, Dixit Dominus(Example 7). Here leaving out the third part from the top (which is largely filler) would leave a double-soprano duet against a bass which, when doubled on the organ, would make the texture the equivalent of the three-voice Magnificat. A further example is provided by the opening of O sacrum convivium(Example 8). Again the alto part is largely redundant and could be discarded if the organ supported the harmony.

5.8 Of the 21 four-voice pieces in this collection, only four have the normal spread of SATB clefs, two in chiavette and two in standard clefs (see Table 2). Fifteen have SSAB or SSAT parts in one or another clef combination, and in each of these cases, the alto part can be omitted, as instructed by Pacelli. As can be seen, there is a wide variety of clef combinations used in the book, with the lowest part appearing in five different clefs; this is in line with Pacelli's flexible transposition instructions. It presumably also reflects performing conditions at the German College, with its mixture of students and professional singers, where maximum flexibility would have been necessary. At the same time, for marketing purposes, such adaptability was certainly also desirable, allowing for use in both female and male convents, for example. Pacelli's foreword also has some interesting things to say about altering the mode of his pieces after transposition if this were deemed to assist their performance (see the second paragraph of the preface in theAppendix below).

6. Early Examples of Roman Concerti by Other Composers

6.1 Was Asprilio Pacelli alone in experimenting with sacred concerti in 1590s Rome? Certainly the Collegio Germanico was, as we have seen, at the forefront of such developments. Graham Dixon has dealt with two of Pacelli's immediate successors there, Agostino Agazzari and Antonio Cifra, looking at the progressive tendencies in their small-scale concertato motets from a seventeenth-century perspective.28 He has also dealt with the music of Giovanni Francesco Anerio, another composer very much in the vanguard of both small- and large-scale concertato writing.

6.2 To find evidence of non-progressive tendencies, it is instructive to look at some small-scale concerti by Francesco Anerio's elder brother Felice. Appointed successor to Palestrina as composer to the Cappella Pontificia in 1594, Felice Anerio had been maestro di cappella at a number of smaller Roman institutions: Santa Maria di Monserrato, the English College and San Giovanni dei Fiorentini.29 In about 1604 he took up a similar position in the newly-formed private cappella of Duke Giovanni Angelo Altaemps, whose palace was right beside the Collegio Germanico at the north end of the Piazza Navona.30

6.3 Felice Anerio has been seen as a largely conservative composer, but a considerable number of small-scale concerti with organ copied into partbooks for use in the Duke's cappella show that he was making wide use of newer forms in his work; their neglect has led to a one-sided appreciation of his achievement. The sheer volume of these compositions would suggest that some, at least, must have already been composed prior to 1604. Many of Anerio's duets give a strong sense of having simply abstracted two lines from an existing four-voice piece. In this they provide a very clear link with the mainstream contrapuntal music of the sixteenth century: they are very restrained and rarely seem interested in exploiting the possibilities of an independent basso continuo or the expressive potential of the individual lines. In te Domine speravi for soprano and tenor provides a good example(Example 9):31 the organ bass always doubles the tenor when that voice is singing and otherwise provides minimal bass support. Neither line contains anything outside of the classical sixteenth-century polyphonic style. Melismas are all based on quarter notes and end with a long note before changing syllable; individual syllables are never given to successive quarter notes. A similar restraint in vocal writing, though broken by some syncopation, pervades Anerio's early solo motets such as Quaesivi quem diligit anima mea for tenor and bassus ad organum(Example 10). The bass slavishly doubles the tenor line and seems at a loss what to do when the voice is not singing, simply repeating the same connecting phrase. The gaps here are exactly those lamented by Viadana in his 1602 foreword and also addressed by Marsolo in his 1614 collection. The latter instructed the solo singer not to observe any of the rests written into his part and instructed the accompanist to ignore them as well.32

6.4 In Felice Anerio's Hi sunt(Example 11) the organ always follows the lower of the two bass parts, but here we do get some virtuoso vocal writing to illustrate the word insaniam, making use of a stock ornamentation formula (compare the vocal line with the organ part). The importance of such ornamental figuration in the composition of these pieces needs to be stressed. The common practice of Roman singers from the 1580s, such as Giovanni Luca Conforti, of ornamenting classically-conceived sacred polyphony led directly to the written-out melismas of the next generation. Notated ornamentation was applied to falsobordone in particular: Viadana in his Concerti provided solo decorative falsobordone settings of Psalm 109 for each voice in turn, making use of standard formulas, while Conforti published three volumes of decorated falsibordoni for solo singers between 1601 and 1603.33 In his foreword, Viadana mentioned embellishments, saying that over-ornamentation was not nowadays acceptable, "particularly in Rome, where the true school of good singing flourishes." It was presumably for this reason that Roman composers increasingly wrote their own desired ornamentation into the piece. A good example is given by Micheli Romano, who was particularly conservative and steeped in the canonic tradition. His three-voice alternatim Magnificat of 1610 uses classical imitation overlaid with ornamental figuration(Example 12).34

6.5 Eventually, more imaginative composers began to integrate this ornamental figuration into the musical discourse. They also began to separate the bassus ad organum from the lowest vocal part, at least for part of the time, so that it moved from being a basso seguente to taking on the role of basso continuo, in the process giving the organist opportunities for more creative work. Giovanni Bernardino Nanino's duet, Fratres qui gloriatur, is a good example.35 Phrases in this piece are alternated rather than being combined contrapuntally, leaving gaps in the texture(Example 13).

6.6 A more sophisticated illustration is Archangelo Crivelli's four-voice Quem vidistis for two sopranos, alto and tenor: it has a basso continuo line which is completely independent for much of the piece.36Crivelli uses his organ bass to support his setting of the dialogue-like text: the two sopranos consistently pose the questions while the alto/tenor pair respond(Example 14). When the four voices join together towards the end of the piece, the organ bass returns largely, though not exclusively, to doubling the tenor. Crivelli was a singer in the Cappella Pontificia and most of his music is written for conventional forces, but he too showed ability in the small-scale idiom shared by every composer active in Rome by 1610. The sheer extent of activity in this idiom by Rome-based composers in the early years of the century belies the traditional view of its being a response to Viadana's Cento Concerti and of the work of other more northern composers and argues for its having been based much more on a solid local tradition whose roots extend well back before 1600.

6.7 Ultimately, deciding who got there first between Pacelli and Viadana is less important than what both tell us about the origins of the Roman small-scale concertato motet. Taken together, their work demonstrates a widespread practice by the 1590s of singing by one or more solo voices with organ, usually adapting existing pieces for the purpose. Historically, writing on the origins of the concertato style has tended to focus more on Florence and the North of Italy than on Rome, and on secular music more than sacred. As a result, the Roman contribution has been overlooked and an impression created that the sacred concertato style was largely a secular development which was afterwards adopted, somewhat reluctantly, for sacred music by a rather conservative Rome. However, as early as 1628, Vincenzo Giustiniani saw its roots partly in what he saw as a change in singing style in Rome around the Holy Year of 1575.37

6.8 John Hill has now shown the importance of the Rome-Naples axis for the development of the secular concertato style and, while we still lack much information on Neapolitan developments in sacred music, it would appear that Rome at least was also crucial for the evolution of the sacred concerto. In both its small-scale and large-scale forms, the Roman concertato style originated in the music written for informal devotional use in Rome during the 1560s and 1570s, and was nurtured in the ornamented performance by solo singers of selected voice parts from polyphonic compositions in the 1580s and 1590s. Its main impulse was the breaking down of the older contrapuntal style and turning it into a more suitable vehicle for the transmission of sacred texts. The need to use music as bait for the nobility, as described by Pacelli in his foreword, provided an important spur in developing the concertato style. Those same noble, intellectual and rich patrons, in whose milieu new styles of secular music were being developed, were precisely those whom the church was particularly keen to attract to religious services. As in the case of secular music, a long time lag between the appearance of new styles in practice and its manifestation in publications has meant a distortion in the historical view.


Foreword to Asprilio Pacelli, Chorici Psalmi et Motecta (Rome: Nicolo Mutii, 1599)


Come tutte l'altre arti nobili sono state meravigliosamente favorite, et accresciute da' Principi à i di nostri per tutto il Christianesimo, & in Roma principalmente: così molto particularmente la profession de'Musici, la cui dolcezza suol sempre corteggiare li Principi, è stata inalzata à tanto gran credito e stima; quanto i Musici de' tempi andati da' Principi dell'età loro poterono più tosto desiderare, che attendere. Et è cosa memorabile in vero, che à tempi nostri, mercè al santissimo governo, & essempio dell'ottimo, e massimo Pontefice CLEMENTE VIII con infinita meraviglia, e contentezza veggiamo pure una volta, che l'artificio gioconda de' Musici, rivolto à più degni oggetti, lasciate dietro le spalle, le vanità, e seguendo dietro la pietà con la dolcezza de' soavi canti n'arreca non men'honesto, che dilettevole piacere. La onde mi sono avveduto che moltissimi, tanto di quei di mezzana nobilità, è facoltà, quanto quei, che sono veramente fra Principi nobile annoverati, spessissime volte sogliono risvegliare la devotion loro con questi purissimi diletti dell'orecchie: all'hor che discretamente con qualche bello trattenimento, di sonoro, è Musico concerto, ritornano di quando in quando à raddolcirsi, e rallentarsi il cuore ristretto dianzi da' severi pensieri, e noie delle publiche, e private cose. Questo rispetto per avviso anche di molti mi ha confortato, & assicurato à compiacere, à molti che lo desideravano: la qual opera credo se io non m'inganno, che congionte le voci all'istrumenti, sia per arrecar aiuto alla divotione: & à disobligarmi una volta d'un debito giustissimo, che mi trovo havere con alquanti affettionatissimi miei, di renderle, come cosa da me dovutale una mia opera, che è la presente, la quale io haveva composte, & riserbatami per mio privato trattenimento. Mi sono risoluto dunque per sodisfattion di molti dar alla Stampa il presente Libro di Salmi & Mottetti fatti più per concerti con Organo, quali hoggidi si usano in Roma, è diletto spirituale, per potersi trattenere piamente; che per Musica ordinaria di Capella. Per la quale subito doppo questa editione, manderò anche alla Stampa il Secondo Libro, di altri Mottetti, e Salmi, la maggior parte de'quali sono composti per risposta di'presenti. Nel che parmi bene con poche parole mostrare come si possino servire di questo Libro. E perche non per tutto sono voci appropriate per cantar detta opera: si mette in consideratione al valente organista, che secondo le voci, che si troverà, potrà quasi tutte queste compositioni trasportare facilissamente più basse, ò più alte, in diversi modi come giudicarà più conveniente, conforme all'habilità de'cantori che haverà. Et se bene, sono à quattro: alcune di esse per meglio effetto faranno, cantandosi à trè, come doi Soprani, & un Basso. Avvertendo però, che quando la trasportatione sia molto bassa: potrà il medesimo Basso esser cantato all'Ottava alta dal Basso, ò da altra voce. Et se nella trasportatione troverà quella sedia esser più commoda per il Choro d'un'altro tono di quello, che l'opera stessa porta seco; potrà quel medesimo Tono far intonare, & cantare seguitamente. Come per essempio: se una compositione del Sesto Tono, sarà trasportata, la Terza più Bassa, che sarà in D la sol re, ò vero la Quarta Bassa, che sarà in C sol fa ut; & che questo Tono sia molto scommodo, per il choro; si potrà far cantare la medesima compositione dell'Ottava Tono, che riuscirà commodissima: & cosi nel resto dell'altre opere. Et perche li Gloria Patri, et Sicut erat à Otto, in queste lontane trasportationi riuscirebbono molto scommode, si potranno lasciare. Il che tutto si lascia in arbitrio del Dotto è svegliato Mastro di Capella, è dal valente, & giuditioso Organista: alla cui Dottrina, è valore: non fa di mestieri usare simili essemplificationi, & avvertimenti.


Just as all of the other noble arts have been marvelously favored and expanded by princes in our time, throughout the whole of Christendom but especially in Rome: so particularly the profession of musicians, whose sweetness has always wooed princes, has been raised to such a peak of honor and esteem as musicians of former times could only desire rather than expect from the princes of their time. And it is truly remarkable that, in our time, thanks to the most holy governance and example of our most esteemed pontiff Clement VIII, we see with great wonder and contentment that the joyous artifice of musicians, now for once turned towards more worthy goals, forsaking vanity and following after piety with the sweetness of gentle songs, yields up delights no less virtuous than pleasant. Wherefore I have perceived that many, those of middle nobility and rank as well as those who are to be counted as truly noble princes, can often have their devotion rekindled by means of this most pure delight of the ears: so that, by the discreet use of some beautiful entertainment of sound and concerted music, they return from time to time to sweeten and calm their hearts, oppressed just before by heavy thoughts or the pressures of public and private cares. The assurance by many that this is so has comforted me and inspired me to give this pleasure to those who have desired it: it is particularly so, if I am not mistaken, when voices are joined with instruments that they produce such assistance to devotion. And in order to discharge for once a just obligation, which I find I have to some of my closest friends, I have undertaken the duty of publishing this present example of my work, which I have composed and hitherto reserved for my own private use. I have thus resolved, for the satisfaction of many, to publish this book of psalms and motets, composed more as concerti with organ, such as is nowadays the custom in Rome for spiritual delight, so that they can entertain piously, rather than as ordinary church music. Immediately after this edition, I will send to the printer a second book, of other motets and psalms, the major part of which are composed as risposti to the present ones.

It seems to me that it would be helpful to show in a few words how this book can be used. Since not everyone will have voices appropriate for singing these works, the skilled organist should bear in mind that, according to the voices which are available, almost all of these compositions can be most easily transposed downwards, or upwards, in various ways as is judged convenient, according to the abilities of the singers at hand. Also, although they are written for four [voices], some of them will make a better effect if sung by three, e.g. two sopranos and a bass. Note, however, that if the transposition is very low, the same bass part can be sung an octave higher by the bass or by another voice. Further, if in the transposition another tone (mode) is found more convenient for the choir than that in which the piece ends up, then that other mode can be intoned and followed. For example, if a piece in the sixth tone is transposed a third lower onto D la sol re, or indeed a fourth lower onto C sol fa ut, and this tone is found very inconvenient for the choir, the same piece can be sung in the eighth tone, which will be found much more suitable; the same applies to the rest of the pieces. However, because the Gloria Patri and Sicut erat settings for eight voices would be very difficult in these distant transpositions, they can be omitted. All of this can be left to the judgment of the experienced and perceptive maestro di cappella, or the capable and sensible organist; with their knowledge and understanding, further advice and examples are unnecessary.

(translation N.O'Regan)

return to paragraph 2.1 return to paragraph 5.8


* Noel O'Regan <Noel.O.Regan@music.ed.ac.uk> is Senior Lecturer in music at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of an RMA monograph,Institutional Patronage in Post-Tridentine Rome, as well as of numerous articles on Roman music and Roman institutions in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He is currently engaged in an extensive study of the role of music in the devotional life of Roman confraternities in this period. In 1995 he was awarded the Premio Palestrina by the town of Palestrina in recognition of his researches into that composer; he is a member of the editorial board of the New Palestrina Edition, currently being planned by the Fondazione Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Return to beginning

1. This and subsequent translations from Viadana's foreword are taken from Oliver Strunk, Source Readings in Music History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1950), 419-423. Return to text

2. Murray Bradshaw has identified Fattorini as a candidate.   See Gabriele Fattorini, I sacri concerti a due voci facili, & commodi da cantare, & sonare con l'Organo a voci piene, & mutate a beneplacito de cantori, co'l basso generale per maggior commodità de gl'organisti.  Novamente composti, & dati in luce.  In Venetia, appresso Ricciardo Amadino, MDC  (RISM A/I [Einzeldrucke vor 1800], F 129);  ed. Murray C. Bradshaw (Neuhausen-Stuttgart: American Institute of Musicology, 1986). Return to text

3. Giovanni Luca Conforti, Salmi passaggiati sopra tutti i toni che ordinariamente canta Santa Chiesa.  Ne i Vesperi, della Domenica, & ne i giorni festivi di tutto l'anno, con il basso sotto per sonare, & cantare con organo, ò con altri stromenti . . .In Roma, Per li Heredi di Nicolò Mutij, 1601-1603 (RISM A/I, C3498);  ed. Murray C. Bradshaw (Neuhausen-Stuttgart: American Institute of Musicology, 1985). Return to text Return to note 33

4. The Appendix gives the Italian version of the foreword as printed in the extra book of Secondi Chori Partes printed in 1601 (see below). The text is the same as that of the Latin foreword in the original 1599 books. The English translation in the Appendix and of excerpts in the text are by the author. Return to text

5. John Walter Hill, Roman Monody, Cantata, and Opera from the Circles around Cardinal Montalto (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 1:90-95. The Marsolo print has been published by Lorenzo Bianconi in a modern critical edition as Pietro Maria Marsolo: Madrigali a Quattro Voci sulle monodie di Giulio Caccini e d'altri autori, e altre opere, vol. 4 of Musiche Rinascimentali Siciliane (Roma: Edizioni de Santis, 1973). Return to text

6. Quoted in Thomas F. Kennedy, "Jesuits and music: reconsidering the early years," Studi Musicali 17 (1988): 71-100. Correction by Author (11/27/2002): Quoted in Thomas D. Culley, "Musical activity in some sixteenth-century Jesuit colleges in Rome, with special reference to the venerable English College in Rome from 1579 to 1589," Analecta Musicologica 19 (1979): 1-29, 11. Return to text

7. This and the following references to performance practice at the Collegio Germanico come from the various liturgical diaries preserved in the archive of the Collegio. They are quoted in Thomas D. Culley, Jesuits and Music: I: A Study of the Musicians connected with the German College in Rome during the 17th Century and of their Activities in Northern Europe (Rome and St. Louis: Jesuit Historical Institute, 1970), 76-87. Return to text

8. Quoted in Culley, Jesuits and Music, 77. Return to text

9. Rome, Archive of Santa Maria dell'Anima, E-II-18, 216. Return to text

10. See Ordine no. 45 in Giancarlo Rostirolla, "Gli 'Ordini' della cappella musicale di San Pietro in Vaticano (Cappella Giulia)," Note d'Archivio, nuova serie 4 (1986): 227-230, plus supplement containing facsimile. In a recent article Arnaldo Morelli examines references to singing with the organ and suggests that many describe singing in canto fermo rather than one line of a polyphonic original. This cannot be true, however, of many of the references discussed here. See Morelli, "Cantare sull'organo: an unrecognized practice," Recercare 10 (1998): 183-208. Return to text

11. Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Archivio Capitolare di San Pietro, Fondo Cappella Giulia 161, 41. Return to text

12. See Patrizia Melella, "Vita musicale e arte organaria a Santo Spirito in Sassia," La musica a Roma attraverso le fonti d'archivio, Atti del convegno internazionale, Roma 4-7 Giugno 1992 (Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 1994), 516. Return to text

13. His exact date of birth is not known. The date of 1570 given in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan, 1980), 14:45-46 would have made him too young for his first known appointment as maestro di cappella at the Archconfraternity of the Gonfalone in 1587 (see below). Assuming that he left the Cappella Giulia because his voice had broken in August 1582, he was probably born about 1567. Return to text

14. For details of the Anerio family, see Jonathan Couchman, "Felice Anerio's Music for the Church and for the Altaemps Cappella," Ph.D. diss., University of California at Santa Barbara, 1989. Return to text

15. Rostirolla, G., "La Cappella Giulia in S. Pietro negli anni del magistero di Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina," Atti del convegno di studi Palestriniani (Palestrina: Fondazione Pierluigi da Palestrina, 1977), 99-283. Return to text

16. Rome, Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Fondo Arciconfraternita del Gonfalone, 206, f.37. Return to text

17. Fondo Gonfalone, 193, f.23v; 195, f.30; 197, ff. 32v, 39. Return to text

18. Noel O'Regan, Institutional Patronage in Post-Tridentine Rome: Music at Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini 1550-1650, no. 7 of Royal Musical Association Monographs (London: Royal Musical Association, 1995), 46-50. Return to text

19. O'Regan, Institutional Patronage, 48-49. Return to text

20. Vera Vita Spagnuolo, "Gli atti notarili dell'Archivio di Stato di Roma," La musica a Roma attraverso le fonti d'archivio, Atti del convegno internazionale, Roma 4-7 Giugno 1992, (Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 1994), 46. Return to text

21.Rome, Archivos de los Establicimientos Españoles, Santa Maria di Monserrato, B-III-196 passim. Return to text

22. Fondo Gonfalone, 52, f. 140 Return to text

23. The exact date of Pacelli's appointment to the Collegio Germanico is not known.  He was certainly there by July 1595 when he was called maestro di cappella at San Apollinare, the church attached to the Collegio, in the affidavit mentioned above.   It is likely that he moved there in October 1594 when he left Santissima Trinità.   See Culley,  Jesuits and Music, 51-52. Return to text

24. For further details of Pacelli's later career see the article "Pacelli" in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan, 1980), 14:45-46. Return to text

25. Quoted in Culley, Jesuits and Music, 77-78. Return to text

26. Found in Diletto spirituale canzonette a tre et a quattro voci composte da diversi ecc[ellentissi]mi musici.  Raccolte et scritte da Simone Verovio.  Roma, M. van Buyten, 1586 (RISM B/I [Recueils imprimés XVIe-XVIIe Siècles] 15862). Return to text

27. Hill, Roman Monody, I, 181. Return to text

28. Graham Dixon, "Progressive Tendencies in the Roman Motet during the Early Seventeenth Century," Acta Musicologica 53 (1981): 105-19. Return to text

29. For Anerio's biography see Couchman, "Felice Anerio's Music for the Church" cited in note 14. Return to text

30. Jonathan Couchman, "Musica nella cappella di palazzo Altemps a Roma," Lunario Romano: Musica e musicisti nel Lazio (Rome: Fratelli Palombi, 1986), 167-83. Return to text

31. The three pieces by Felice Anerio quoted here are preserved in manuscript in Regensburg, Bischöfliche Zentralbibliothek, Proskesche Sammlung, Mappe "Anerio." Return to text

32. Hill, Roman Monody, I, 90-91. Return to text

33. See note 3. Return to text

34. Micheli Romano, Psalmi ad officium vesperarum musicis notis expressi, et ternis vocibus decantandi. Una cum parte organica . . . liber primus . . . Romae, Apud Io. Baptista Roblectum. 1610. (RISM A/I, M2682). Return to text

35. Found in manuscript in Regensburg, Bischšfliche Zentralbibliothek, Proskesche Sammlung, Mappe "Nanino". Return to text

36. Crivelli's Quem vidistis was published in Selectae cantiones excellentissimorum auctorum binis, ternis, quaternisque vocibus concinendae a Fabio Constantino romano insignis Basilicae S. Maria Transtyberini musices moderatore simul collectae Liber primus. Opus tertium. Roma, B. Zannejtti, 1616. (RISM B/I, 16161). Return to text

37. Vincenzo Giustiniani, Discorso sopra la musica de'suoi tempi, published in A. Solerti, L'Origine del Melodramma (Turin, 1903), English trans. Carol MacClintock, vol. 9 of Musicological Studies and Documents (Neuhausen-Stuttgart: American Institute of Musicology, 1962). Return to text

Table 1: Contents of Pacelli's 1599 Chorici psalmi et motecta, with clefs and tonal markers

  Clefs Tonal-type markers
Dixit Dominus sexti toni C1C1C3F4 C1-b-F
Confitebor secundi toni C1C1C3F4 C1-b-G
Beatus vir sexti toni G2C1C2F4 G2/F4-b-F
Laudate Pueri secundi toni C1C1C3F4 C1-b-G
Laetatus sum secundi toni C1C1C3F4 C1-b-G
Nisi Dominus quarti toni C1C1C3C4 C1/C4-#-E
In convertendo quarti toni C1C1C3F4 C1-#-A/E
Credidi secundi toni C1C1C3F4 C1-b-G
Laudate Pueri octavi toni C1C1C3C4 C1/C4-#-G
De Profundis sexti toni G2C1C3F3 G2-b-F
Nunc dimittis quarti toni C1C1C3C4 C1-#-E/A
Magnificat secundi toni C1C1C3F4 C1-b-G
Magnificat sexti toni G2C1C3F3 G2-b-F
Magnificat octavi toni G2C1C2 G2-#-G
O sacrum convivium G2G2C1C2 G2-b-F
O vos omnes G2G2C2C3 G2-#-G
Christus factus G2G2C2C3 G2-#-G
Foelix es C1C1C1C3 C1-#-G
Alma Redemptoris C1C3C4F4 C1-b-F
Ave Regina C1C3C4F4 C1-b-F
Regina coeli C1C1C3F4 C1-b-F
Salve Regina G2G2C3C3 G2-b-G

Return to text

Table 2: Pacelli's 1599 Chorici psalmi et motecta: Breakdown according to cleffing

Paired soprano No. of pieces
C1C1C3F4 8
C1C1C3C4 3
G2G2C2C3 2
G2G2C3C3 1
G2G2C1C2 1
C1C3C4F4 - (standard) 2
G2C1C3F3 - (chiavette) 2
C1C1C1C3 1
G2C1C2F4 1
G2C1C2 (3vv) 1

Return to text

List of music examples

Ex. 1: Asprilio Pacelli, Magnificat 3vv (1599), mm.1-8 Ex. 2: Asprilio Pacelli, Magnificat 3vv (1599), mm.48-57 Ex. 3: Lodovico Da Viadana, Magnificat 3vv (1602), mm.1-10 Ex. 4: Lodovico Da Viadana, Magnificat 3vv (1602), mm. 57-66 Ex. 5: Giovanni Animuccia, Beata es Virgo 3vv (1565), mm. 9-16 Ex. 6: Felice Anerio, Jesu, decus angelicum a 3 (1586), mm. 1-5 Ex. 7: Asprilio Pacelli, Dixit Dominus (1599), mm. 13-22 Ex. 8: Asprilio Pacelli, O sacrum convivium 4vv (1599), mm. 1-10 Ex. 9: Felice Anerio, In te Domine speravi, mm. 9-16 Exx. 10: Felice Anerio, Quaesivi quem diligit, mm. 47-56 E. 11: Felice Anerio, Hi sunt, mm. 32-37 Ex. 12: Romano Micheli, Magnificat, mm. 12-16 Ex. 13: Giovanni Bernardino Nanino, Fratres qui gloriatur, mm. 1-7 Ex. 14: Archangelo Crivelli, Quem vidistis, pastores, mm. 5-13

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