Maiestatis Pontificiae dum in Capella Xisti Sacra Peraguntur Accurata Delineatio by Etienne Dupérac
Call Number: Ris. Strag. 7, fol. 116 recto
Publication Date: 1578
RR, Plate 145: An early engraving of the Sistine Chapel shows the full pomp of a papal religious ceremony, with the pope, the entire papal curia, and the singers in their box (lower right) gathered around a lectern.
Constitution of the Sistine Chapel Singers
Call Number: Capp. Sist. 611, fol. 1 verso
Publication Date: 1545
RR, Plate 146: The earliest complete extant constitution outlines the singers' duties, privileges, and code of behavior and offers detailed rules for their daily personal and professional life. The beautiful illuminated full-page opening miniature portrays the reigning pope Paul III presenting the constitution to the master of the papal chapel, with the singers of the chapel kneeling behind him.
Rotulus, listing singers and their benefices
Call Number: Capp. Sist. 703.1
Publication Date: 1431
RR, Plate 147: Counting down from the top of the manuscript, the sixth entry describes a benefice awarded to Guillaume Dufay, the great Franco-Flemish composer who sang in the papal chapel in the 1430s. The highly prized benefices were lifelong supplements to singers' incomes and did not necessarily require continued residence in the papal chapel.
Call Number: Capp. Sist. 6, fol. 123 recto
Publication Date: ca. 1464 (?)
RR, Plate 148: This15th century manuscript of Gregorian chant, copied for the chapel of Cardinal Pietro Barbo of Venice, was given to the Sistine Chapel choir after he became Pope Paul II in 1464. The lovely illumination of the letter C in the setting of the psalm "Cantate Domino" depicts a choir of singers standing in front of a lectern. The musical notes on the manuscript in the miniature are legible.
RR, Plate 149: This manuscript is one of the most beautiful and elaborately illuminated chant manuscripts of the Capella Sistina collection. It was written for the great patron of the arts, Pope Leo X. The opening displayed here is sumptuously decorated in gold, indigo, ruby, and other vibrant colors, with the initial O encircling Christ and his apostles. The lower border shows the Medici coat of arms with the lion heads symbolically representing the pope, Leo X.
RR, Plate 150: This richly decorated antiphoner was copied during the reign of Pope Clement VII. The left-handed page is decorated with the papal crown and keys, against the Medici shield, and in the upper border a dove representing the Holy Spirit. On the other page the initial 'R' beginning a chant for Christmas Day is appropriately illuminated with a miniature showing the Nativity scene surrounded by angels.
Call Number: Capp. Sist. 347, fol. 18 recto
Publication Date: 1614
RR, Plate 151: 2 volumes. The Editio Medicea, the revised edition of Gregorian chant was the product of a long and concerted effort initiated by Pope Gregory XIII to reform the musical settings of liturgical texts and to rid the melodies of certain perceived barbarisms that had crept into sacred music over the centuries. The page shown is from an introit for Christmas Day.
The Mass, Motets and other Genres
Missa O Crux Lignum by Antoine Busnois
Call Number: Capp. Sist. 51, fol. 104 verso
Publication Date: ca. late 15th century
RR, Plate 152: This manuscript is one of the oldest polyphonic mass sources in the Sistina collection.
RR, Plate 153: Recognized as the greatest and most versatile composer of the High Renaissance, Josquin des Prez was a singer in the papal chapel intermittently from about 1486 to 1494, serving two popes, Innocent VIII and Alexander VI. This is the opening of one of Josquin's masterpieces, the Missa de Beata Virgine, from a manuscript collection of masses dating from the papacy of Pope Leo X.
RR, Plate 155: This is the earliest collection of polyphonic hymns and Magnificats by a single composer in the Sistine fondo. The opening of his hymn Conditor alme siderum is shown here, with the arms of the reigning pope Paul III on the elaborately decorated "Q" in the upper left. The coat of arms at the bottom of the right-hand page--lions holding a wreath with a fleur-de- lis--may be the composer's personal coat of arms.
Music Sources Outside the Fondo Cappella Sistina
Book of Motets
Call Number: Arch. Cap. S. Pietro B. 80, fols. 27 verso- 28 recto
Publication Date: ca. 15th century
RR, Plate 156: This fifteenth-century manuscript of sacred polyphony from the choir of Saint Peter's contains the motet "Omnium bonorum plena" (Full of all good things) by the French composer Loyset Compère (ca. 1450-1518). The piece is based on the famous chanson 'De Tous Biens Playne'.
Chigi Codex, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Chigi C VIII 234, fols. 19v-20r This opening features the Kyrie of Ockeghem's Missa Ecce ancilla Domini.
First Book of Masses by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Call Number: Capp. Giulia XV 15, frontispiece
Publication Date: 1554
RR, Plate 157: The first printed edition of the this manuscript contains the engraving showing the composer presenting the book of masses to Pope Julius III. Palestrina served the Cappella Giulia, the Cappella Sistina, and the chapels of Saint John Lateran and Santa Maria Maggiore.
Second Book of Masses by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Call Number: Capp. Giulia XIII.1, p. 48
Publication Date: 1598
RR, Plate 158: The kyrie from Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli was printed in his Second Book of Masses. The work is famous because it was said to have been composed to convince Pope Marcellus II not to ban polyphonic music from the liturgy. The story is probably apocryphal, but the masterly work is representative of Palestrina's mature style. It clearly expresses the text and avoids polyphonic elaboration that would obscure the meaning of the words.
RR, Plate 159: The only major source of Renaissance secular music in the papal collections, this compilation of Franco-Flemish chansons was apparently copied in Florence in the late fifteenth century for a member of the Medici family.
Call Number: Chig. C VIII 234, fols. 19 verso- 20 recto
Publication Date: ca. 1500
RR, Plate 160: The Chigi Codex, one of the richest sources of Franco-Flemish polyphony of the last quarter of the 15th century, is also one of the most elaborate and precious of all illuminated music manuscripts. It contains thirteen masses of the great Flemish composer Johannes Ockeghem, including this piece, the opening of Ockeghem's 'Missa Ecce Ancilla Domini'.
RR, Plate 161: This important manuscript of keyboard music is thought to be in the hand of the great keyboard composer, Girolamo Frescobaldi, who served as organist in Saint Peter's from 1608 until his death. On display is the opening from his Fourth Toccata.
Manuscript of Polyphonic Music
Call Number: Vat. lat. 10776, fols. 55 verso- 56 recto
RR, Plate 162: This important manuscript containing polyphonic psalm, hymn, and motet settings is believed to have been owned by Palestrina. The excerpt shown here is called a "falsobordone," or chordal harmonization of a psalm tone, which is said to have been added in Palestrina's own hand.
Harmonics by Ptolemy
Call Number: Vat. lat. 4570, fol. 58 verso
RR, Plate 163: Music was a mathematical science in its own right in the classical tradition. This copy of a Latin translation of Ptolemy's important theoretical work, Harmonics, was owned by the Italian music theorist Franchinus Gaffurius and ends with a colophon in his own hand.
Collection of autograph correspondence between important theorists and humanists
Call Number: Vat. lat. 5318, fol. 133 recto
Publication Date: ca. 1517-43
RR, Plate 164: Shown here is an excerpt from a letter dated 20 June 1520, from the Bolognese theorist Giovanni Spataro to the Roman Giovanni del Lago. It includes a musical example to illustrate the point that Spataro is making.
Girolamo Mei, Letter to Vincenzo Galilei
Call Number: Reg. lat. 2021, fol. 15 recto
Publication Date: 8 May 1572
RR, Plate 165: This copy of an important letter from the humanist Girolamo Mei to the Florentine musician Vincenzo Galilei, father of the great astronomer, concerns the nature of Greek music. The letter includes a discussion of the presumed power of Greek music to move the emotions; from these ideas Galilei and his colleagues in Florence developed a new musical aesthetic that led to the creation of opera and other baroque forms.
Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna by Vincenzo Galilei
Call Number: Ferr. II 257, p. 1
Publication Date: 1581
RR, Plate 166: Galilei's famous treatise was the manifesto of the new monodic style of the early baroque period in music. In it, he praises Greek music and condemns the current contrapuntal style, which he believed could not adequately express the meaning or emotions of the words. This is the title page.
Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna by Vincenzo Galilei
Call Number: Ferr. II 257, p. 67
Publication Date: 1581
RR, Plate 167: A page from Galilei's 'Dialogo' shows a diagram illustrating the relationship of the modes, the basic scale patterns on which all music was constructed.