Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/649

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is supposed that he feared to attach names to them lest he should arouse by an ill-judged choice of words either powerful prejudices or unfounded fears. They were performed in the first instance with the greatest care at the house of the Cardinal Vitellozzi. The verdict of the audience assembled to hear them was final and enthusiastic. Upon the first two, praises lavish enough were bestowed; but by the third, afterwards known as the mass 'Papæ Marcelli,' all felt that the future style and destiny of sacred art was once for all determined. Baini likens its transcendent excellence to that of the relative grandeur of the 33rd canto of the Inferno. Parvi, contemporary musical copyist at the Vatican, transcribed it into the Chapel collection in characters larger than those which he commonly employed. The Pope ordered a special performance of it in the Apostolic Chapel; and at the close of the service the enraptured Pontiff declared that it must have been some such music that the Apostle of the Apocalypse heard sung by the triumphant hosts of angels in the New Jerusalem. Cardinal Pisani exclaimed in the words of the 'Paradiso,'

Render è questo voce a voce in tempra
Ed in dolcezza ch'esser non più nota
Se non cola dove 'l gioir s' insempra;

and Antonio Sorbelloni, the Pope's cousin, rejoined with a happy adaptation from the same source,

Risponda dunque; Oh, fortunata sorte!
Risponda alla divina cantilena,
Da tutte parti la beata Corte
Si ch' ogni vista ne sia più serena.

In short, there was a general agreement of prelate and singer that Palestrina had at last produced the archetype of ecclesiastical song.[1]

The post of Composer to the Pontifical Choir was created for Palestrina by the Pope in honour of this noble achievement, and so the amends, if any were needed, from the Vatican to its dismissed chapel singer, were finally and handsomely made. But the jealousy of the singers themselves, which had been evinced upon his original appointment as one of their number in 1555 was by no means extinct. His present appointment was received in surly silence, and upon the death of Pius, in August 1565, their discontent took a more open and aggressive form. The new Pope, however, Michele Ghislieri, who had taken the title of Pius V, confirmed the great musician in his office, as did the six succeeding pontiffs during whose reigns he lived.[2]

The production of this series of masses by no means represents the mental activity of Palestrina during the period between 1555 and 1571. In 1562, in gratitude for his monthly pension, he had sent for the use of the Apostolic Chapel two motetti, 'Beatus Laurentius,' and 'Estote fortes in bello,' and a mass for six voices, intituled 'Ut Re Mi Fa Sol La.' To the Cardinal Pio di Carpi, who had shown him some personal kindness, he had dedicated a volume of graceful motetti, which were printed by the Brothers Dorici in 1563, and were republished in four other editions by Gardano and Coattino of Rome, during the life of the author, and after his death by Gardano of Venice and Soldi of Rome. In the year 1565 the Cardinal Pacacco, Spanish representative at the papal court, intimated that the dedication to Philip II of a work by Palestrina would be pleasing to that monarch. The musician consulted his friend Cardinal Vitellozzi, and arranged the dedication of a volume which should contain the famous mass, which he then christened 'Papae Marcelli,' with four others for four voices, and two for five voices. These, with an appropriate inscription, were forwarded to the Spanish king. They were printed by the Dorici as Palestrina's second volume of masses, in 1 569, and in a fresh edition by Gardano of Venice, in 1598. A year or two afterwards he published a third volume of masses, which he also inscribed to Philip. It need hardly be said that a message of thanks was all that he ever received in return for so splendid a homage from the heartless, wealthy, and penurious bigot at the Escurial.

It is well to state that Palestrina must not be held responsible for certain inferior adaptations which exist of the mass 'Papae Marcelli,' one into a mass for four voices by Anerio, and another into one for eight voices by Soriani. Anerio's arrangement went through three editions in 1600, 1626, and 1649 respectively. Soriani's was confined to one issue in 1609.[3] It is well, too, to notice an assertion of Gerbert that Palestrina first of all wrote the mass for four voices, and afterwards amplified and improved it into one for six. Had Gerbert been a man of genius himself, he would have felt the improbability of such a story. There was also an arrangement of this work for twelve voices, a copy of which Baini had seen in the collection of Santa Maria in Vallicella at Rome. The widespread popularity of the work at least is shown even by the bad taste of its adapters. One curious myth was current about it for a time, to which Pellegrini in his 'Museum Historico-Legale' has given currency. He says that he took the story from Platina. It is to the effect that the mass was written, not by Palestrina and dedicated to his patron Marcellus II, but by Marcellus I, Saint and Martyr, at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century. To suppose that on the morrow of the persecution of Diocletian, while Maxentius and Constantino were disputing the possession of the Empire, and while the services of the Christian Church were still principally confined to the Catacombs, music or the appliances for the performance of music could have either produced or executed such a work, is a folly that would need no exposure, even if the

  1. The Abbé Alfieri, in his edition of 'Selected Works of Palestrina,' published at Rome in 1836, states indeed his own preference for the mass 'Fratres ego enim.' At least, he says that it is 'più grandiosa' in his opinion. But the regret which he expresses for the significant fact that it has never been performed since the death of its composer, suggests the strongest presumption against the wisdom of his preference.
  2. The pension which he had hitherto enjoyed from the Pope was merged in the salary of his new office, which was fixed at nine scudl per month. He still kept his situation at Santa Maria Maggiore, at sixteen scudi. This was all his income.
  3. A critical edition of the three has been published by Proske (Schotts).