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On a Continuo Organ Part Attributed to Palestrina Author(s): Patrizio Barbieri Source: Early Music, Vol.

On a Continuo Organ Part Attributed to Palestrina Author(s): Patrizio Barbieri Source: Early Music, Vol. 22, No. 4, Palestrina Quatercentenary (Nov., 1994), pp. 587-605

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PatrizioBarbieri

On

a

continuo

attributed

to

organ

part

Palestrina

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1 Palestrina,Missarum liber primus

(Rome: Dorico,

1554), title-page.

The composerpresents hisworkto

JuliusIII.

W,."77f"--

Patrizio Barbieri, formerly a professor of electronics,nowteachesmusic theory and acousticsat the University of Lecce.He has published a bookand about50 articleson topics relatedto ancient keyboard instruments,musical temperament, modaland harmonic theories.

he earliestmention of the use of the organ for liturgicalpurposes in 16th-century Italiantreatisesis by Biagio Rossetti (1529). Even

though Rossetti's description is not always clear, it seems to suggest

that at the time the organist's role was limited to alternatim perfor-

manceswith the choir.'The firstclear examples of

arefound towardsthe end of the century, in works by composers from

a geographical areathat encompasses the Veneto and Emilia regions, such as Alessandro Striggio (1587), Giovanni Croce (1594) and Adri- ano Banchieri (1595).2 To these we must add Ludovicoda Viadana, a musician from the same region, whose Centoconcerti ecclesiastici[

con il bassocontinuo per sonar nell'organo,although published in 1602, were partlycomposed around 1596-7during a short stay in Rome.3

As for the foremost Roman polyphonist, Giovanni Pierluigi da Pal- estrina, the first example of the insertion of a basso continuo part in

his compositions dates from the first decade of the 17th century.4

There is evidence, however, that such a

bassusad organum

]

practice was already in use in

Rome, albeit irregularly, at least as early as 1585.5Only the Sistine Chapel, in its role as the pope's official musical chapel, remained faithful to purely vocal performances, thus respecting its well estab-

lished tradition. Nevertheless, the organ was heard during the vespri

segreti(privateVespers)performed in the privateapartments of the pope. Jean Lionnet has recently demonstrated that this was surely

happening during the reigns of Paul V (1605-21) and Urban VIII (1623-44).6 According to the documents that are the subject of the present article, this practice should be shiftedbackto the vesprisegreti

of Sixtus V (1585-90). Of particularimportance in this respect is a basso continuo part attributedto Palestrina:this valuable piece of in- formation has been found in the manuscripts left by Girolamo Chiti

maestrodi cappella

at the churchof S. Giovanniin Laterano, Rome'scathedralchurch.Let

us examine the matterin detail. At the conclusion of a letter of 25 September 1752, addressed to padre GiambattistaMartini,Chiti announced:

Io poi h6 trovatoun mottettoa 6 delPalestrina per la Pentecosteconcertato

(1679-1759), who from 1726 to 1759 held the post of

col

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bassocontinuo fatto dal medesimoPalestrinache l'V uno spavento: Dum complerentur C.A.A.T.T.B.et organo; questo l' cosararadelnostroArchivio,e diconoservito per li vesperi secretidi Nostro Signore SistoVo.Ne riceveria copia.7

I havealsofounda six-voicemotetof Palestrinaforthe

feast of Pentecost, concerted

with a basso continuo

written by Palestrinahimselfthatis

plerentur C.A.A.T.T.B.and organ; thisis a rareitemfrom our archive,and they saiditwasusedforthe vesperi secreti

of ourLordSixtusV.Youwill get a copy.

frightful: Dum com-

A copy of this motet, in Chiti's handwriting and

also dated 25 September1752, is at present in the BibliotecaCorsinianain Rome (illus.2).8 In this manuscript Chiti repeats the assertionthat the motet was takenfrom an original found in the archiveof S. Giovanniin Laterano.In the organ part-and specifically at the beginning of the first, secondandthird systems-Chiti notes:

[f.65v] Bassocontinuowritten by Palestrina

[f.65v] Bassocontinuo written by Palestrina

motet for

the privateVespers of ourLord [thepope] [f.66r] Bassocontinuowritten by Palestrina,a rareand

noteworthything.9

2 (opposite) Opening barsof Palestrina'smotet Dum complerentur(Rome, Biblioteca Corsinianae dell'

Accademia dei Lincei, Ms. Musica M.14, f.65v). At the

top of the page GirolamoChiti writes:'Dum com-

plerentur PraenestinusInFestoPentecostes Antiphona

a 6./ 1752 Chitusstudebatex ArchivioLateranenside-

prompta. Concertato a 2 C. A0.'('Dum complerenturby

Palestrina, antiphon fortheFeastof the Pentecost,a 6/

Chiti studied it in 1752, having taken it from the archive

of the Lateran. Concerted,with two choirs.') The manuscript includesthe bassocontinuoattributedto Palestrina, but lacks the first tenor part. About this omissionChitiremarks:'mancail primo tenore ripor- tato nel libro simile no 95 all'ultimo'('the firsttenor part is lacking,[but] it is shown in a similar book, no.95, in thelast place'). Lateron we alsoread:'a6. 25

settembre 1752 hora 15 Hieronijmus Chiti Romae in

aedibusCanonicisLateraniscum voluptate

tantiexcell.miAuctoris peritia ecc'.('a 6. 25September

1752, at the 15th hour [9.30 p.m.], Girolamo Chiti in the

presbytery of the Lateran,with

skillsof suchanexcellent composer.')

studiosa

pleasure in studying the

By a lucky coincidence, just whenI was correcting the proofs of the presentarticle,EleonoraSimi Bonini,whocollaboratedwithotherscholarsin re- organizing and reclassifying the musicalmanu- scripts of S. Giovanniin Laterano,a taskfinished about mid-1994,kindly let me know that in the archiveof the cathedralshe had recently found- undatedand in separateparts-a motetthatis in all probability the original mentioned by Chiti;she alsofoundastatementinwhichChitistatesthatthe performance of thisconcertatomotettook placein 1585, underSixtusV,on the occasionof the vespri segreti forPentecost.10 At present,however,the original sourcethatis the basisof Chiti'sstatementhas not yet cometo

light. In fact, as far as the years 1585-90 are con-

cerned,the diariesof the pontificalchapel(Diari sistini)andthoseof PaoloAlaleonede Branca,the pope's masterof ceremonies,mention only the 'first Vespers'publicly heldin the Cappella Sistina the day beforePentecost. (Alaleone's diary is not, though, determinantin this matter,since it is almost exclusively focusedon official ceremonies.)" As regards the chapel'sprivate servicefor the pope in thesecondhalfof the 16th century, thereal situationis not yetcompletely clear.TheDiarisis- tinishowthatfromat least 1563 the cantoriwould sing at noon on Easter Day,during or afterthe pope'smeal;similarduties-extended to Christ- mas Day, New Year's Day,Pentecost,the Feastof StPeterandSt Paul,andthe anniversary oftheelec- tionofthe pope-are alsorecordedinthe following years, but onlysporadically,thoughthey werere- ferredto asa 'usual' practice. Wefirst begin to find mentionof the vesprisegreti in the Diarisistiniof

the years 1591 and 1596, under Innocent IX (1591) and ClementVIII (1592-1605): the context suggests

thatthiskindof service,whichlookslikea natural extensioninto the afternoonof the duties during the pope'smeal,was at that time by no meansa

novelty."1 As for the pontificate of Sixtus V, the Diari sistinido not even mention the motets during the pope's meals;also, as we have seen, they were a normal custom. The private Vespers took place

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Jd~il~

four times a year-on

Pentecostand the Feastof St Peterand St Paul

Christmas Day, Easter Day,

and their systematicperformance isrecordedin the Diari sistini only fromthe beginning of the reign of PaulV. (It is only from 1605, the year in which Paul

V was elected,that these diaries begin to be practi-

callycomplete and exhaustive.) On these feast-days the cantori of the Cappella Sistina, following their participation in morning Mass, would go to the pontifical apartments for the customary perfor- mance of 'motets' ('i soliti mottetti' or 'il solito mottetto')during the pope's dinner.Afterthe usual good wishes and 'holy benediction' they remained there until the late afternoon, waiting for the pon-

tifical privateVespers;during this service they sang 'lively motets and short psalms' in a room ('Aula Apostolorum')communicating with the small cap- pella secreta in whichPaulV stayedalone.13 This is allwe knowof the origins of the pontifical privateVespers. In the light of these documentswe can only concludethatno evidencehas emerged to contradict Chiti's testimony. Independent confir- mation is required before we may be certain that

this arrangement of Dum

the earliestknown example of basso per l'organo. At any rate, as I shall show below, the bass is stylisti- cally similarto the bassi seguenti writtenat the end

of the 16th centuryby composers such as Striggio,

Victoriaand Rogier. The whole of the first part of

the motet is shown as ex.i.

complerentur is indeed

Intabulationsof vocal polyphony and the first bassi per l'organo

The practice of intabulatingpolyphonic vocalcom-

positions was widespread in the 16th century. It

is logical to assumethat the first bassi per l'organo

were simply reductions from these tablatures,

INGEGNERI,

MARC'ANTONIO.

II

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ITALL)IYL'

terzo

libro

dei

madrigali

a from which one would take 'whichevervoice part

in

the composition happened at the moment to the lowest, and thereforethe real basis of the

harmony'.14 Thebassof ex.i followsthis rule:see es-

be

pecially bars 19, 23, 45, 55, 81. Identical procedures

can be found in other sacred compositionsdating from the same period.

cinque voci. Edited by MarcoMangani.English and Italiantexts. In-4, Lv-94pp., papercovers(Marc'AntonioIngegneri.Opera omnia.Serie 2, Volume 3).

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LUCCAAI

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MUSICALE

590

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Ex.i Palestrina, Dum complerentur (the first tenor part, lacking in the Chiti manuscript, has been added; see the remarksin the caption to illus.2). The motet also has a secunda pars (Dum ergo essent), where, however, the basso continuo is notated only for the opening bars.

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1 Alessandro Striggio's4o-voice motet Eccebeatam lucem (1587) has an additionalvoice part whose title

refers explicitly to this practice:

Bassonecavato dalle parte pi u bassedel 40, per sonar in mezzodel circolocon un trombone per sostentamentodella

armonia per sonarsicon organo, liuto et

cimbalio viole.'5

Bass part takenfromthelowest parts of the 40, to be

sup-

port the harmony thatistobe playedbyorgan, luteand

harpsichords orviols.

2 Between 1590 and 1595PhilippeRogier, theFlem- ish maestroof the royal chapel of Philip II in Madrid,wrotea three-choirMissaDomineDomi- nus noster, in whichthe organsupplies eachchoir with its own bass part; ex.2showsthe startof the musicforthe firstchoir.Theworkalsoincludesa guion (a leader or generalbass), made up of whicheverof the three organpartshappens at the momentto be lowest.'6

3 Similarremarkscan be madeaboutthe works

played inthemiddleofthecirclewithatrombone,to

publishedby Tomias Luisde Victoriain Madrid in 16oo, whichincludea bass part forthe organ. In this respect the passage in ex.3, takenfromthetwo- choirmotetAveMaria gratiaplena, is particularly

interesting.'7

The organ andvocal polyphony In Rome,as wellas in Madrid,the firstuse of the organ in performances of polyphonic vocalmusic isfoundinNorth European culturalcircles.Indeed, the recordsof the Collegio Germanicoof S. Apol- linaretellusthaton 6 January1585:

Ad Benedictus fuit organum sonatum sed extraordinarie quia aderatM. VictoriacuiusBenedictus cantabatur.'1

AttheBenedictusthe organ was played,but,byway ofex- ception, becauseMaestro [Tomais Luis de]Victoria,whose Benedictuswas beingsung, was present.

Also sung on thesame day was:

mottetum pro Deo gratias,quod erat Surge illuminare

Hierusdlem,8 vocum Prenestini, in organo.19

a motetfortheDeo gratias-which was Surge illuminare

Hierusalemfor eight voices, by Palestrina-onthe organ.

In discussing thesedocumentsThomasD. Culley askswhatcouldbe the exact meaning of the expres-

sion 'motetsung on the organ', andhe suggests that

a motetwhichwas sung witha basso

it 'may referto

continuopart providedby the organ, to one in whichone (ormore) of thevoice parts wasdoubled

by the organ, orto a motetin whichone (ormore)

Ex.2

PhilippeRogier, MissaDomineDominus noster (c.159o-95),KyrieI, opening barsofthefirstchoir.ThisMass

sacred composition in chiavette,and provided witha bass part for

is,asfarasI know,theearliest example of a

organ thatis alreadytransposed(in thiscasea 4thlower).

Tiple -AFL- I

Ky

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ri

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e

o

Alto

Tenor

Bajo

Organo

Z:

I

Ky

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Ky

ri

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ri

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lei

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-

son, (Ky-

-

lei

-

Ky

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ri-

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e

ri

son,

-

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e-

EARLY

MUSIC

NOVEMBER

1994

597

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Ex.3 Tomas Luisde

edition by the composerhimself.

Victoria, AveMaria gratiaplena, bars22-8. The organpart wasaddedto the 16ooMadrid

-

- bus,

-ri

six%II

ri-bus,

ri- bus,

in

-

mu

bus

in

in

in mu - li

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li

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in mu

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ri-bus

e

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ri-bus

"F

-bus

ri -bus

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m

in mu

in

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mu-li

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pn

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"-buet

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ctus,

be-ne-

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be -ne-di

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ctus, et

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of the voices was replacedby the organ'.20 All three hypotheses are perfectly plausible: in the original manuscript of ex.1, for instance, the first tenor is

missing in the vocal score, while it appears occa- sionally in the continuo part, as in bar66. It is poss- ible to conclude that the organ accompaniment

must have been stylistically similar to those found in the intabulations left by Victoria (see ex.3). An

arrangement of this type-in

including the high ones, are doubled by the instru-

ment-leads us automatically to exclude the possi- bility that singers might have added extempor- aneous ornamentations to their parts. This would

which all voices,

598

EARLY

MUSIC

NOVEMBER

1994

i9

6K

fj

support indirectly an interesting statement made by the FlemishAndre de Pape in 1581:

Scimus igiturmagnoscomponistas, cum suas compositiones cani iuberent, puerisalapassaepe dedisse, aliosque cantores sine discrimine ubique diminuentes acriter increpuisse. malebantenim cantum ipsum, ut erat scriptum,integrum incorruptumque audire.21

Weknowthereforethatthe

hadtheirworks sung, wouldoften slap the choirboys, and

wouldscold bitterly theother singers, withoutdistinction,

whenever they useddiminutions. They infact preferred to heartheirvocal pieces aswritten,wholeand uncorrupted.

greatcomposers, when they

De Pape's assertions do not, of course, apply

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automatically to the Roman singers, although in the Cappella Sistinathe party of the Franco-Flem- ish cantori was still very strong in 1583,as shown by

GiuseppeBaini."2

Chiavette

As we can see from ex.1, Palestrina'sDum comple- renturuses chiavette (i.e. the bass part in baritone

clef, the two tenors in alto clef, etc.). This implies that during the performance the organ part was transposed. Depending on whether the piece was notated with a B6 or not, contemporary perfor- mance practice prescribed that the transposition occur at the lower 4th or the lower 5th, respectively. Such a rule, which has a rational justification, is

consistentlyapplied in the

Palestrina'sMottetti a cinque voci. Lib. IV. The organ part of all 29 compositions included in this print is alreadytransposed 'forthe ease of the organ

player'.23

In the late 16th century this rule was generally

16o8 Venetianedition of

respected, but there were some exceptions. As we

can see in ex.2, one of these is Rogier's Missa Domine Dominus noster, which is, as far as I know,

the oldest example

vetteto have a bass part for the organalready trans-

posed.

of a sacred composition

in chia-

Imitative polyphony and continuo In the continuo parts we have already examined

(e.g. ex.2) even the initial subjects of the counter- point were doubled melodically by the organ. As

of the as yet

unsolved questions in figured bass playing is 'to know when composers no longer expected con- tinuo players to double themes and answersin a fu-

gal exposition'."4 However, at least with regard to

Italy, we can say that this practice was still alive in

1766, wh