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Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Return of Maestro Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci
And with him, we pray, Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony, ancient and modern: A Change of Tune in the Vatican – And Not Only in the Secretariat of State.

Signore Magister on the maestro's removal in 1997:
    Maestro Bartolucci was named the "perpetual" director, the director for life, of the Sistine Chapel by Pius XII in 1959. Under this and later popes, he was an outstanding interpreter of the liturgical music founded upon Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. But after a long period of opposition, in 1997 he was dismissed and replaced by a choirmaster thought to be more fitting for the "popular" music dear to John Paul II.

    Bartolucci’s replacement was the finishing stroke of the almost complete elimination of Gregorian chant and polyphony as desired by the authors of the postconciliar liturgical reform.
Signore Magister's description of the maestro's concert in the Sistine Chapel:
    In the concert, Bartolucci masterfully executed an offertory, two motets, and a "Credo" by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the prince of sacred Roman polyphonic music and maestro of the Sistine Chapel until the end of the 1500’s.

    But he also executed some of his own compositions: three motets, an antiphon, a hymn, and an "Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto," composed in 2005 after Ratzinger’s election as pope.
Maestro Bartolucci addressed His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI with these words:
    Most blessed Father, we all know the great love of Your Holiness for the liturgy, and thus for sacred music. Music is the art that has benefited the liturgy of the Church most of all: the space for the choir represented its cradle, thanks to which the Church was able to form the language that we admire today. The most beautiful examples that the faith of past centuries has left to us and which we must keep alive are Gregorian chant and polyphony: these require a constant practice capable of enlivening and animating divine worship.
Here is what Pope Benedict XVI was quoted as saying after the concert:
    All of the selections we have listened to - and especially in their entirety, where the 16th and 20th centuries stand parallel - agree in confirming the conviction that sacred polyphony, in particular that of what is called the 'Roman school', constitutes a heritage that should be preserved with care, kept alive, and made better known, for the benefit not only of the scholars and specialists, but of the ecclesial community as a whole. [...] An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.