Early sixteenth century
This manuscript is one of three in the Sistina collection copied probably in Brussels or Mechlin (Malines) at the court of Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, and sent to Rome as a gift for Pope Leo X (1513-21). The pope's coat of arms is prominently displayed in the lower portion of the right hand initials. The volume contains Masses and Mass movements. The opening work is anonymous in the manuscript, but can be shown to have been written by Jacques Barbireau (ca.1420-1491), a composer who worked mostly in Antwerp.
Capp. Sist. 160 fols. 2 verso-3 recto music25 NB.06
20 June 1520
This is an excerpt from a letter from the Bolognese theorist Giovanni Spataro to his friend Giovanni di Lago in Rome. It includes a musical example to illustrate the point that Spataro is making.
Vat. lat. 5318 fol. 133 recto music26 NB.45
One of a series of sumptuous chant manuscripts produced during the reign of Pope Paul III (1534-49), this volume preserves music to be sung during ceremonies that took place on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The manuscript is richly ornamented and a few folios are spectacularly decorated, such as the one shown here containing the opening chant of the liturgy of Good Friday, the antiphon "Astiterunt regem terrae." The miniature, by the papal miniaturist Vincenzo Raymondo, depicts Christ carrying the cross, while the coat of arms of Pope Paul III is at the bottom of the folio.
Capp. Sist. 2 fol. 74 recto music27 NB.14
Rome: Antonio Barre, 1555
Vicetino (1511-1576) was a composer and theorist who believed that he had discovered a way to apply the ancient Greek "genera"- -types of scales--to the music of his day. These ideas are set forth in a treatise which claims to "reduce ancient music to modern practice." To test his theories Vicetino actually constructed an instrument called the arcicembalo (shown in the foldout illustration), a harpsichord with two keyboards capable of dividing the octave into 31 parts, thereby providing all the pitches needed to reproduce the ancient tone system.
Casimiri II 173 foldout music28 NB.23
Late fifteenth century
This manuscript was copied towards the end of the fifteenth century and preserves a collection of polyphonic music to be sung during the office of vespers (hymns and Magnificats), as well as pieces performed during Mass (motets). The opening folio shows the Gregorian chant of the first verse of the hymn "Conditor alme siderum."
Capp. Sist. 15 fol. 1 verso music29 NB.31
Libretto by Rospigliosi, 1669
This opera by Alessandro Melani (1639-1703) received its first performance in Rome on 17 February 1669. It is the first opera to be based on the story of Don Juan, initiating a series of operatic treatments that were to culminate in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" (1787). This is a contemporary copy of the score with the music accompanying one of the elaborate scenic effects of the opera--a shipwreck.
Chig. Q. V 57 fols. 18 verso-19 recto music30 NB.42