Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Miserere

Music History Monday: One Talented Kid

As is sometimes the case, the lack of notable musical events on our “appointed” date (in today’s case, April 10) requires that we shimmy forward (or back) a day for relevant material; thus: On April 11, 1770 – 247 years ago tomorrow – a choral performance took place in Rome that was the source of one of the most famous stories in the entire history of Western music. Here’s the story. On December 13, 1769, the then 13 year-old Wolfgang Mozart and his father left their hometown of Salzburg for what would be the first of three extended tours of Italy. Working their way south, they arrived in Rome on Wednesday, April 11, 1770, four days before Easter. They were just in time to hear the Papal Choir perform Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel. Allegri’s Miserere is a setting of Psalm 51, which consists of 20 lines. Here are its first three: Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin. Allegri (1582-1652) composed his Miserere sometime in the late 1630s, during the reign […]

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