Netherlands, With Flemish miniatures, Last quarter of the fifteenth century
The Chigi Codex, one of the richest sources of Franco-Flemish polyphony of the last quarter of the fifteenth 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 (ca. 1420-97), including this piece, the opening of Ockeghem's "Missa Ecce Ancilla Domini." The Annunciation scene appears in the illumination in the cantus part. The shields and crests were overpainted by the later Spanish owners of the manuscript.
Chig. C. VIII 234 fols. 19 verso-20 recto music09 NB.03
Rome: Andreas Antico, 1516
This large folio choirbook of polyphony, printed entirely by woodblock and containing fifteen masses by Josquin, Brumel, de la Rue, and others, is the first major Roman publication of sacred polyphonic music. Here we see the table of contents, listing the masses included in the work.
Capp. Sist. 209 fols. 1 verso-2 recto music10 NB.13
2 vols, Rome: Typographia Medicea, 1614
The "Editio Medicea," the revised edition of Gregorian chant, was published in Rome in 1614. It was the product of a long and concerted effort initiated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1577 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. Contributors to this important revision of the liturgical chant included the composers Palestrina, Annibale Zoilo, and, later, Felice Anerio and Francesco Soriano. The page shown is an introit for Christmas Day.
Capp. Sist. 347 fol. 18 recto music11 NB.17
In Latin, Late fifteenth century
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 (ca. 1451-1522) and ends with a colophon in his own hand.
Vat. lat. 4570 fols. 1 verso - 2 recto music12 NB.21
Early sixteenth century
Antoine Brumel's setting of "Laudate Dominum" for four voices is one of the earliest motet settings of a psalm. It is found in a manuscript copied during the reign of Giuliano della Rovere, Pope Julius II (1503-1513), whose coat of arms appears in the upper left-hand corner of the opening.
Capp. Sist. 42 fols. 3 verso-4 recto music13 NB.34
8 May 1572
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.
Reg. lat. 2021 fol. 15 recto music14 NB.44
1567, Reprint edition, 1598
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.
Capp. Giul. XIII 1 p. 48 music15 NB.37
Late sixteenth century
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.
Vat. lat. 10776 fols. 55 verso-56 recto music16 NB.39
You can continue the exhibit in the room three, or you can turn around and go to room one or to the Music hall. The alternative is to go all the way to the main hall.