Allegri's Miserere in the Sistine Chapel [Hardback]

Graham O'Reilly(Author)

ISBN: 9781783274871 | Published by: Boydell Press | Year of Publication: 2020 | 377p, H9.25 x W6.25, 33 black and white, 42 line drawing
Status: Not Yet Published - Available for pre-order

Allegri's Miserere in the Sistine Chapel


The Miserere attributed to the Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652) is one of the most popular, often performed and recorded choral pieces of late Renaissance/early Baroque music. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII in the 1630s, for the exclusive use of the Papal Choir in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week, the last of thirteen surviving Misereres sung at the services of Tenebræ since 1514. When the young Mozart visited Rome, so the story goes, he transcribed it from memory, risking excommunication but helping posterity to reclaim the piece. Yet the Miserere known today bears little resemblance to Allegri's original or to its method of performance before 1900.
This book is the first detailed account of this iconic work's performance history in the Sistine Chapel, in particular focussing on its heyday in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rather than looking at the Miserere as a work on paper, the key to its genesis - as this book reveals - can only be found in a performance context. The book includes consideration both of the implications of that context in recreating it for performance, and of the history and practice of the "English Miserere" - the version commonly heard today. Appendices present key source transcriptions and two performance editions.

GRAHAM O'REILLY is founder and conductor of the French-based Ensemble William Byrd, which recorded the Miserere from a late Vatican manuscript in 2000.

Table of Contents

Introduction - Myth and reality
Part One: The 16th and 17th centuries
1. Context
2. Creation
3. Transformation
Part Two: The 18th century
4. Show business
5. 18th century sources 1 - Blainville and Mozart
6. 18th century sources 2 - The Paris and Manchester manuscripts
7. '
Con suoi rifiorimente, come si deve eseguire' - What the earliest ornamented manuscripts show
Part Three: The 19th century
8. The Papal Choir in the 19th century 1 - Giuseppe Baini
9. 19th century sources 1 - British Library
Add. MS 31525 and related manuscripts
10. 19th century sources 2 - Alfieri's
Il Salmo Miserere of 1840
11. The Papal Choir in the 19th century 2 - Domenico Mustaf
12. 19th century sources 3 - The Vatican manuscript of Domenico Mustaf
Part Four: Performing the
Miserere in the 20th century
13. The current 'popular' version of the Allegri Miserere: the 'English Miserere'
14. Introduction to the editions
15. Aspects of performance practice 1 - Performing pitch
16. Aspects of performance practice 2 - Expression
17. Aspects of performance practice 3 - Performing forces
18. Conclusion
Part Five: Appendices, editions and notes

Product Tags

Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.