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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 18 (2012) No. 1

Published 2016

Monteverdi’s Mass and Vespers of 1610: The Economic, Social, and Courtly Context

Jeffrey Kurtzman*

1. The Market for Sacred Music in Early Seventeenth-Century Italy

2. Monteverdi’s Title

3. Monteverdi’s Dedication

4. Monteverdi’s 1610 Print and the Gonzagas

5. “Suitable for the chapels or chambers of princes” and the Marketability of Monteverdi’s Print

6. The Role of the Five Sacri concentus

7. Conclusion

Appendix: Dedication of Giulio Cesare Bianchi, Libro Secondo de Motetti, 1620


  • Example 1. Giovanni Francesco Capello, Sancta & immaculata Virginitas
  • Example 2. Giovanni Francesco Capello, Indica mihi
  • Example 3. Giovanni Francesco Capello, Iam de somno


1. The Market for Sacred Music in Early Seventeenth-Century Italy

1.1 The Mass and Vespers published by Claudio Monteverdi in 1610 was only one of as many as fifty-sixty or more collections of sacred music published in Italy during just that single year.[1] Of these, a full thirty-six contain music for the office of vespers or other offices. Indeed, from about 1585 until the great plague of 1630, a period in which the quantity of publications of secular music was declining, Italian presses were increasingly active in printing collections of masses, motets, music for the Divine Office, music for Holy Week, and other sacred genres, such as falsibordoni, litanies, and Marian antiphons, as well as collections that combined two or more of these genres for what was obviously a fast-growing and very large and lucrative market. Angelo Pompilio and Tim Carter have already highlighted this trend in their statistical studies of Neapolitan, Venetian and other Italian printers; Anne Schnoebelen’s and my catalogue of printed Italian mass, office, and Holy Week music, 1516–1770, and RISM-Switzerland’s database of European printed sacred music 1500–1800, strongly reinforce this point.[2]

1.2 We have very limited information regarding how large the press runs of mostly Venetian, Milanese, and Roman publishers were, but the information we do have suggests they normally numbered between 500 and 1200 copies.[3] The many reprints of such popular collections as Lodovico Viadana’s Cento concerti ecclesiastici, Alessandro Grandi’s series of motet books, and the few-voiced motets of Giacomo Finetti, as well as the one or more reprints of a large number of other publications, offer further testimony to the widespread sale and use of this vast quantity of sacred music books. By contrast with these collections of music for small numbers of voices, which, because of market demand, were probably published in large press runs, the large scope of Monteverdi’s 1610 collection as well as his Selva morale e spirituali of 1641 and the posthumous Messa e Salmi of 1650, all requiring a sizable choir, instrumentalists, and virtuoso soloists, suggests that their press runs were probably at the lower end, perhaps no more than 500 copies, though even that number demonstrates a sizable potential market. Moreover, none of Monteverdi’s sacred music publications was ever reprinted, just as Giovanni Gabrieli’s Sacrae symphoniae of 1612, Giulio Radino Padovano’s large collection of Concerti per cantare et sonare of 1607, or Lodovico Viadana’s Salmi a quattro chori of 1612 appeared only in single editions, at least as far as we know from surviving sources and publishers’ catalogues.[4]

1.3 The large quantity of sacred prints emanating from Italian presses in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries represents a religious, sociological, and economic phenomenon of major proportions. The Catholic Reformation was clearly the dominant influence in the expansion of sacred music throughout the Italian peninsula and in northern Europe in the fifty years following the Council of Trent. The revitalized religious atmosphere in Italy in the period following the close of the Council, increasing populations in monastic institutions, pressures from the Church for much greater outreach to the public on the part of bishops, priests, and others responsible for the cura animarum, and liberal plenary grants of indulgence for attendance at services on particular occasions, for particular periods, or at particular churches or shrines, were all important factors in this expansion. Greater emphasis on polyphonic music was part of a general program designed to attract more people to liturgical services in secular churches, chapels, and monasteries with increasingly elaborate and pervasive decorations, paintings, statuary, and theatrical ornamentation, and to involve more people in devotions outside of liturgical services. An additional factor in this influence was the Church’s publication of a standardized breviary and standardized missal in 1568 and 1570 respectively, so that music publishers could be assured that their offerings would be widely usable, although composers and publishers did not by any means adhere strictly to the versions of texts in those volumes.[5] As the Catholic Church broadened this effort, sacred music became increasingly diverse and attractive through the use of virtuoso soloists, dramatically expressive monody, duets and few-voiced textures, instruments of many different timbres, massed choirs, and new organs, exceeding by far the stylistic limitations argued by reformers before Trent, during the meetings of the Council itself and in the Council’s general and succinct decrees. The Jesuit order (Society of Jesus) was especially influential in the use of the arts, including music and theater, to attract congregants and educate students, beginning even before the construction of its mother church, the Gesù in Rome in the 1560s–1580s. The rapid expansion of the Society’s churches, educational institutions, and missionary activity throughout Europe and in transoceanic populations continued throughout the seventeenth century. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the northern European wars also played a role, with Catholic monarchs, such as the Habsburg Emperors, promoting their religious beliefs against Lutheran and other Protestant denominations with the aid of sacred music published in Italy.[6]

1.4 Splendid musical presentations on important feast days brought large numbers of people to many different churches, for every church, guild, and confraternity had a patron saint whose feast was typically celebrated with special pomp if the institution could afford it. Christmas and Easter were likewise celebrated with elaborate music, and in many churches, especially cathedrals and important basilicas, many other feasts, such as Corpus Christi, the Ascension, and the Assumption, were rendered attractive to parishioners and the general populace by festive processions and sumptuous music. The crowds of people attending these services led to increased alms, which in turn supported the greater expense of elaborate music, extra candles, special vestments or banners, lavish decorations, and other costs of such major celebrations recorded in account books.[7]

1.5 From the title pages and dedications of the many prints themselves, it is obvious that a surprisingly large number of churches and monasteries throughout the peninsula and Sicily employed organists, maestri di capella, at least a small choir of professional singers, and a small body of instrumentalists. If a church didn’t have salaried instrumentalists, they were hired from outside for any musical service that required them. Additional choir members and soloists were also hired, sometimes from distant locations, for special occasions.[8]

1.6 This, then, was the burgeoning market for sacred music in Italy at the time Claudio Monteverdi published his Missa in illo tempore and Vespro della Beata Vergine in 1610, a market that continued more or less in full force, though subject to general economic conditions, until the plague of 1630–31. The market then recovered significantly in the late 1630s to flourish for another thirty years before suffering a gradual decline until it vanished almost altogether by the mid eighteenth century. It was an exceptionally diverse market, ranging from poorer churches, monasteries, and confraternities whose performing forces were so limited that Viadana’s few-voiced concertos and Grandi’s, Finetti’s and others’ few-voiced motets found a ready-made niche, to large cathedral churches, basilicas, major monastic churches, and court chapels in the larger cities that were the scene of frequent performances by large numbers of musicians in diverse styles, including multiple choirs. Cathedral churches, the most obvious locations for elaborate music on universally important holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Corpus Christi, were situated not only in the larger cities, but in many less populous ones as well, as can be gleaned from the title pages and dedications of these prints.[9] Yet these same cities and often smaller communities, as well, had other major churches and basilicas that were prominent sites of elaborate music on major feasts, patronal feasts, or other locally important occasions.[10]

1.7 How did Monteverdi’s Mass and Vespers of 1610 fit into this market? In responding to this question, the 1610 publication may serve as a general model for the issues to be investigated with regard to almost every other print of sacred music of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, even though some of the questions addressed in this paper are unique to the exceptional 1610 print itself. Many of these issues regarding Monteverdi’s 1610 collection have been raised before, but usually in isolation and without reference to the much broader repertoire. I do not claim to have any new answers or solutions to the many problems this print poses, but by reviewing these questions in their economic, social, courtly, and personal contexts, perhaps we can gain not only a more general understanding of this print, but also set the stage for similar questions about the more than 3,700 other surviving publications of sacred music printed in Italy between Petrucci and the third quarter of the eighteenth century.

1.8 Ultimately, what is striking about the Monteverdi print, and many others, as well, is how little we actually know about the circumstances and conditions that engendered a particular publication; what the relationship between the composer and the dedicatee was unless explicitly stated in the dedication; how a particular music print was financed, including who provided the initial investment, who purchased it, how widespread its sale and use was; what the patterns of marketing and distribution were; and finally, how it was used in liturgical and devotional contexts. Yet the more publications we study from these perspectives, the more we understand of these issues from those few cases where detailed information is available.

2. Monteverdi’s Title

2.1 The obvious place to start our inquiry, as has been the case many times before, is the title page of the vocal partbooks of Monteverdi’s 1610 print. The title not only identifies the contents of the print, its author, its dedicatee, its publisher, and its year of publication, but also serves a marketing function beyond this information, offering brief descriptions of the print’s works to attract those to whom the publisher, Ricciardo Amadino, expected to be able to sell it:

ad Sacella siue Principum Cubicula accommodata.
nuper effecta
[Escutcheon of Pope Paul V]
Venetijs, Apud Ricciardum Amadinum.
M D C X.

The first thing to note about this title is that the print has two distinct dedicatees, one divine and the other earthly. The music of the print, that is the Mass, the Vespers and the sacri concentus, are all dedicated to the Virgin, as indicated by her name in the dative case at the head of the title. The living human dedicatee, Pope Paul V, is not only identified by his name, but by his coat of arms (see Chapter 3 below on the dedicatory epistle of the print).

2.2 The Bassus Generalis partbook, for organ and other continuo instruments, has a title differing in some particulars from the vocal partbooks:

Ac Vesperę[æ] pluribus decantandæ
ad Sacella siue Principum Cubicula accommodata.
nuper effecta
[Escutcheon of Pope Paul V]
Venetijs, Apud Ricciardum Amadinum.
M D C X.

Many prints of this period have differences between the vocal title pages and the basso continuo or organ title. Often this difference is no more than omission of the phrase Con il basso continuo, or Con il basso da sonare from the basso continuo title itself. But at times, as in Monteverdi’s 1610 print, the differences are more substantial.

2.3 Unique to Monteverdi’s Bassus Generalis title is the phrase ad ecclesiarum choros (“for church choirs”) in reference to the Mass, which makes clear its intended market. But why would Monteverdi specify this, since it would seem to be obvious? One possibility is that by the phrase ad ecclesiarum choros Monteverdi and Amadino were indicating that the work is not in the modern, soloistically oriented concertato style, which was still in its incipient stages in mass compositions at this time, but rather employs a full choir to perform a more traditional style of music, such as that promoted by Artusi (see the two articles by Ulrich Siegele elsewhere in this volume). This mass, known as the Missa in illo tempore, is based on a motet of that name by Nicolas Gombert, published seventy-two years earlier.[11] It is possible that the explicit destination of this mass, which is a tour de force of the prima pratica and whose source and motives are advertised by Monteverdi at its very head, is underscored on Monteverdi’s title page precisely because of the long debate with Artusi over musical style, though there is no satisfactory explanation as to why ad ecclesiarum choros was not included on the vocal title pages as well. The text of the Gombert motet from which Monteverdi derived the motives for the Mass makes reference to Mary in a phrase, spoken by a woman in a crowd Jesus was addressing: Beatus venter qui te portavit et ubera quae suxisti (“Blessed the womb which carried you and the breasts you sucked”). Thus the source of the Mass justifies its dedication to the Holy Virgin.

2.4 As the two title pages continue, the Mass is connected by ac (“and”) to Vesperae pluribus decantandæ, “Vespers to be sung by many [a diverse number of] voices.” By Vesperae, Monteverdi refers to liturgical elements often found in contemporaneous publications entitled Vesperae, Vespri, or Vesperi (all three appear as the nominative plural form of the noun in contemporaneous title pages): response, psalms, hymn, and Magnificats. Monteverdi has used the indefinite adjective pluribus because the quantity of voices singing during each of the vespers compositions varies, and in all the psalms, the Magnificats, and the hymn, the number of voices is equal to or more than the six voices of the Mass.[12] Thus the Vespers themselves are qualified for the consumer by an indication of their diversity of scorings. The addition of the word decantandae (“to be sung”) is quite common on title pages of sacred music, usually in conjunction with the number of voices by which the contents are to be sung, in this case pluribus. What Monteverdi doesn’t indicate however, as do some title pages, is the option of performing the Vesperae with instruments: et sonandae.[13]

2.5 By means of the connective preposition cum (“together with”), Monteverdi’s title goes on to list another set of compositions, nonnullis sacris concentibus (“some sacred compositions”). Finally, the first part of the title concludes with the very rare qualifying phrase ad Sacella sive Principum Cubicula accommodata (“suitable for the chapels or chambers of princes”). But this phrase poses a grammatical anomaly that has caused considerable debate in the Monteverdi literature.[14] The question hinges on what is referenced by the participial adjective accommodata (“suitable”). It has been argued that accommodata refers to the sacri concentus, distinguishing them alone as suitable for princely chapels and chambers, and therefore not part of the Vesperae.[15] However, to indicate this grammatically would require the ending –is: accommodatis. Instead, the adjective ends in either a nominative feminine singular or neuter plural a. If feminine singular, then it would refer back to the Mass, the only nominative feminine singular noun in the first part of the title, but that makes no sense, since the Mass is destined, as the Bassus Generalis title specifies, “for church choirs.” Taking the ending as a neuter plural isn’t much of an improvement, for there are no neuter plural nouns to this point in the title. In fact, if accommodare in its participial form were to refer to the latter two of the three principal elements of the print listed in its title, there is no proper grammatical form in Latin to indicate that. Sometimes the Latin grammar of title pages is more casual than classical, but even in classical Latin it is not unusual to find a neuter ending when the collective nouns an adjective modifies are of different genders; thus accommodata should indeed refer to both the Vesperae and concentibus. Monteverdi has therefore stylistically distinguished two different groups of compositions destined for two different types of performing ensembles: the choral Missa “for church choirs”and the concertato Vesperae and sacri concentus “suitable for the chapels and chambers of Princes.” The concertato style typically requires soloists, though a full choir may be involved as well. The question of whether Monteverdi and Amadino intended everything in the print after the mass only for princely chapels and chambers is addressed below in Chapter 5.

2.6 Since accommodata must refer to both the Vesperae and the sacri concentus, then the argument that the five sacri concentus are not themselves part of a vespers service because they are destined for a different type of venue is undercut. Additional support for the argument that they do indeed form part of a virtually complete polyphonic vespers service is the fact that they are not positioned in a distinct section of the print, as groups of motets in collections of mostly vespers music typically are, but are interspersed between the psalms, as several contemporary witnesses say was frequently the practice in performances of the office (see Chapter 5 below for discussion of this practice).[16] Further supporting this interpretation is the rubric Vespro della Beata Vergine in the Bassus Generalis part-book following the Mass, clearly referring to the remaining sequence of compositions in the print, beginning with Domine ad adiuvandum and including the nonnuli sacri concentus. Indeed, all the sacri concentus except Duo seraphim are addressed specifically, or according to long-standing allegories, to the Virgin (see the discussion of the role of Duo seraphim in pars. 4.74.8 and 6.6 below).[17] In addition, whereas each movement of the Missa in illo tempore has a large capital initial at the beginning of each of its movements in the Bassus Generalis partbook, only the response Domine ad adiuvandum and the first psalm, Dixit Dominus have such an initial in the section labeled Vespro della Beata Vergine. The rest of the pieces simply follow in succession without the typical typographical indication of independent compositions.[18]

3. Monteverdi’s Dedication

3.1 Also mentioned on the title page is Monteverdi’s earthly dedicatee, to whom the dedicatory epistle is addressed, Pope Paul V (ac Beatiss[imo] Paulo V. Pont[ifex] Max[imus] consecrata) accompanied by a woodcut of his coat of arms. Here the participial adjective consecrata (“consecrated”) ends with a neuter plural a, since it refers to the neuter plural Opera above, encompassing the entire body of works listed in the first part of the title.

3.2 It is infrequent that a sacred music publication was dedicated to a pope, and this fact alone underscores the special character of Monteverdi’s print.[19] The vast majority of Italian sacred music prints of the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries were dedicated to church figures, such as cardinals, abbots, congregations of monks, individuals of median or low rank in the church hierarchy, and, in many fewer instances, to nuns. Personal relationships were often important in selecting dedicatees, such as in the prints that Giovanni Matteo Asola dedicated to his colleagues in the chapter of canons at San Giorgio in Alga in Verona.[20] In Milanese prints it was also customary to dedicate individual pieces to particular singers and instrumentalists with whom the composer was acquainted and often worked.

3.3 Twofold dedications like Monteverdi’s, especially to the Virgin, are infrequent but not exceptionally rare in the seventeenth century. Ten years later, Monteverdi’s erstwhile vice maestro di musica at Mantua, Giulio Cesare Bianchi, similarly dedicated a collection of Marian motets to both the Virgin and Cardinal Montalto.[21]

In lode della Gloriosissima Vergine MARIA Nostra Signora.
A’ Vna, Due, Tre, Quattro, e Cinque Voci, & Vna MESSA, A’Quattro,
Con il Basso Generale,
Con le Letanie à Sei Voci del Sig. Claudio Monteuerde.
Nella Tauola poi, ci sono alcuni auertimenti, intorno al loro essere
Concertati in diuerse maniere, secondo la commodità
delle Parti.
[Escutcheon of dedicatee]
In Venetia, Appresso Alessandro Vincenti. MDCXX.

Bianchi even provided two separate dedicatory epistles, one to each of his honorees (see Appendix):

3.4 The text of Monteverdi’s dedication is shorter than most dedications of the early seventeenth century:


Res quasdam Ecclesiasticas modulis Musicis concinendas quum in lucem emittere vellem, Maiestati tuae (Pontifex Pontificum) qua vere nulla ad Deum propius accedit in orbe mortalium, nuncupare decreueram; verum, quia maximis ac summis infima, ac minima non belle dicari cognoscebam, consilium planè mutassem, nisi tandem venisset in mentem materiam de rebus diuinis suo quodam iure efflagitare incidi frontem operis, aut potiùs imprimi eius nomine, qui claues Coeli habet in manibus, & clauum Imperij tenet in terris: Quò igitur sacri concentus eximio, ac penè diuino tuo fulgore Illustrati splendescant; & quò suprema impertita benedictione mons ixiguus ingenij mei magis, ac magis virescat in dies, & claudantur ora in Claudium loquentium iniqua, ad tuos sanctissimos pedes prouolutus has meas, qualescunque sunt, lucubrationes deferò & exhibeo. Quare vt benigno vultu, atque sereno animo, quæ humiliter offero accipere digneris, etiam, atque etiam rogo, sic enim fiet, vt alacriori animo post hac, & maiori labore quam antea, & Deo, & B. Virgini & tibi deseruire possim. Vale, & viue diu foelix. Venetijs Calendis Septemb. 1610.

(When I wished to send forth into the light certain ecclesiastical pieces to be sung in musical modes, I had decided to dedicate [them] to your Majesty, Pontiff of Pontiffs, than whom truly none in the world of mortals approaches nearer to God; but because I recognized that to the greatest and highest, things very mean and small were not politely dedicated, plainly I would have changed my plan if it had not finally come into my mind that material concerning divine matters by a certain right of its own demands that the title page of the work be inscribed, or rather imprinted, with the name of him who has the keys to heaven in his hands and holds the helm of empire on earth. Therefore that the sacred harmonies, illuminated by your extraordinary and almost divine glory, may be resplendent and that by [your] supreme blessing being given, the humble hill of my talent may daily grow more and more green, and the mouths of those speaking unfair things against Claudio may be closed, having thrown myself at your most holy feet, I offer and present these my nocturnal labors, of whatever sort they are. Wherefore again and again I beg that you may deign with kindly countenance and cheerful mind to accept what I humbly offer, for thus it will happen that with more lively mind after this and with greater labor than before, I shall be able to serve both God and the Blessed Virgin and you; farewell and live long [and] happy.) [22]

3.5 What does the text of Monteverdi’s dedication tell us? Unfortunately, not as much as we would like (see the article “Seconda pratica: Counterpoint and Politics” by Ulrich Siegele in the present volume, paragraph 8.4). Apart from the usual encomiums to the dedicatee and customary self-denigration of the composer and his work in comparison to the virtues of the dedicatee, the only phrases of apparent interest are Monteverdi’s comment, “and the mouths of those speaking unfair things about Claudio may be closed” (& claudantur ora in Claudium loquentium iniqua), and his reference to “nocturnal labors” (lucubrationes). But while the phrase “those speaking unfair things” clearly refers to Giovanni Maria Artusi and his attacks on Monteverdi published between 1600 and 1608, similar remarks also appear in hundreds of dedications of the period. What such comments reveal is an expected relationship between the composer and the dedicatee. That is, the name of the dedicatee, as a patron or potential patron, provides protection against the obviously frequent slander of jealous rivals or professional enemies, since to slander the composer was also an affront to the dedicatee who had deigned to accept the composer’s work. Similarly, the word lucubrationes is utterly conventional, appearing in countless dedications, rendering the term suspect as an actual description of any composer’s particular working habits.

3.6 At times the dedicatee of a print paid for its publication. But in the case of Monteverdi’s Mass and Vespers of 1610, there is no reason to believe Pope Paul V footed the bill for this print, a rather expensive bill considering both the size and complexity of the publication. We know from Monteverdi’s correspondence that one of his motives in dedicating the print to the pope was to secure a scholarship for his son Francesco to the papal seminary in Rome.[23] Often, if a dedicatee did not pay some or all of the costs of a print, the composer could anticipate some kind of gift or reward from the honored dedicatee. But Monteverdi’s son was not admitted to the Roman seminary, and Monteverdi returned from his trip to Rome after presenting his new collection to the pope without achieving his principal objectives. Whether he received some token gift from the pope is unrecorded.[24]

3.7 This observation leads us to the question of what Monteverdi’s objectives in publishing this collection were in the first place. The admission of his son to the papal seminary, though clearly important to the composer, who continued seeking funding for his admission even after the trip to Rome had been completed, was nevertheless secondary to its principal purposes.[25] Before 1610, Monteverdi’s only publications of sacred music had been his teenage Sacre cantiunculae (1582) and Madrigali spirituali (1583). Hans Redlich, Domenico De Paoli, and Denis Arnold all suggested that with the 1610 print Monteverdi intended to advertise his capacity as a composer of sacred music in diverse genres and styles in hopes of escaping Mantua and the Gonzaga court by securing a major church position elsewhere.[26] It is well known how dissatisfied Monteverdi was with his employment in Mantua, documented through numerous letters, and the conclusion that he hoped his 1610 Mass and Vespers were his ticket out of the hothouse of a princely court seems inescapable.[27]

3.8 There are dedications in other prints of this period that are obvious applications for appointments to the dedicatee’s musical staff, though these are usually addressed to secular princes rather than to church officials, where the methods of making such appointments were typically different from courtly hiring practices. How maestri di cappella in churches were selected has been documented in only a few prominent cases, such as Monteverdi’s appointment at St. Mark’s, Vincenzo Pellegrini’s appointment at the cathedral of Milan, and Carlo Donato Cossoni’s later appointment at the same cathedral.[28] The influence of the pope or cardinals could be crucial, especially in those churches which they patronized and to which they had some kind of attachment. In some instances, it appears that officials of the monastic orders to which many composers of sacred music belonged periodically moved their maestri di cappella or organists from one location to another.[29]

3.9 In his essay “Seconda pratica: Counterpoint and Politics,” in the present volume, Ulrich Siegele has framed the famous Artusi-Monteverdi controversy in terms of the Roman Inquisition in a way that suggests another important impetus to Monteverdi’s 1610 publication and its dedication to Pope Paul. Siegele argues in this article, which is a summary of the more extended original German version of 1994, “Cruda Amarilli, oder: Wie ist Monteverdis ‘seconda pratica’ satztechnisch zu verstehen?” (reprinted in the present volume), that Artusi sought to demonstrate that Monteverdi’s music was in violation of universal rules and order grounded in truth, a truth supported by the post-Tridentine Church and enforced through the Inquisition. As Siegele explains, Monteverdi countered this threat by claiming that he himself operated under a set of rules and conditions just as truthful as those undergirding Artusi’s arguments, but that it was a different set following different criteria, known as the seconda pratica. By publishing, for the first time, a major collection of sacred music dedicated to the pope, Monteverdi sought to conclude his long controversy with Artusi (to close his mouth, as he says in his dedication) by demonstrating his capacity to write sacred music in both the imitative polyphonic style and the modern concertato idiom according to the traditional contrapuntal rules Artusi championed. Moreover, to have his dedication received by the highest authority of the Church, higher even than Artusi’s original dedicatee, Cardinal Arigoni, a member of the Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition (see Siegele, Chapter 2), put the final stamp on Monteverdi’s triumph. The escutcheon of Paul V on the title page of Monteverdi’s 1610 print trumped Cardinal Arigoni’s coat of arms on the title page of Artusi’s original 1600 treatise.

4. Monteverdi’s 1610 Print and the Gonzagas

4.1 But if the Mass and Vespers of 1610 were dedicated to Pope Paul V, what role did Monteverdi’s Gonzaga employers and patrons play in the print? It is apparent from several sources that Monteverdi had already composed sacred music for Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga and his court on a number of different occasions.[30] In fact, as maestro e de la Camera e de la Chiesa, as he refers to the position in his request for appointment in his first surviving letter of 1601 to the duke,[31] he would likely have been responsible for the duke’s sacred music in all venues outside of the palace church of Santa Barbara, which had its own maestro di capella in Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi. Roger Bowers has argued that the palace church of Santa Croce was the principal venue for Monteverdi’s activities as a maestro di cappella for sacred music, referring to “grand liturgical occasions known to have been conducted within S. Croce Church,” which he describes as larger than the Sistine Chapel.[32] Bower’s thesis, however, does not stand up to scrutiny; the history of the architecture of the ducal palace and, in particular, the church of Santa Croce, has been carefully studied by experts in the field.[33] Even today one can see the remnants of the church as the very small (picciolo) structure described in contemporary documents.

4.2 The only documentary information we have regarding the Gonzagas and this print is found in a few letters. The first is an oft-published correspondence of July 16, 1610, from the Mantuan singer Bernardo Cassola to Cardinal Ferdinando Gonzaga in Rome. In this letter Cassola states:

Monteverdi is having printed an a cappella Mass for six voices of great studiousness and labour, having obliged himself to handle for every note and in every way, always reinforcing the eight [recte ten] points of imitation that are in the motet “In illo tempore” by Gombert, and together [with it] he is also having printed psalms for Vespers of the Madonna, with various and diverse manners of invention and of harmony—and all are on the cantus firmus—with the idea of coming to Rome this autumn to dedicate them to His Holiness.[34]

4.3 Why would Cassola have felt the need to convey this information to the Cardinal? Wouldn’t the information have reached the cardinal from his brother, Prince Francesco, or some other court official serving as the usual channel of communication between Mantua and Rome? Of course, we don’t know if Cardinal Ferdinando also heard about the print from another source. Cassola’s letter mentions Monteverdi’s intention to come to Rome to present the print to the pope. In fact, on September 14, two weeks after Monteverdi signed the dedication to his print, presumably in Venice, Prince Francesco did write to his brother the cardinal in Rome confirming Monteverdi’s forthcoming trip and seeking his brother’s assistance in obtaining an audience with the pope for their maestro di cappella.[35] Thus the Gonzagas were well aware of the 1610 publication and Monteverdi’s intentions. Whether protocol required the composer to receive advance permission from the pope before dedicating the print to him is unclear, but there is no evidence to suggest he did.

4.4 Susan Parisi has pointed out that as a Gonzaga court employee, Monteverdi would typically have been housed in the cardinal’s palace in Rome. But as Parisi discovered, Monteverdi arrived in Rome surreptitiously, for a letter from the Mantuan official, Rainero Bissolati, of October 7, speaks of encountering the composer by chance on the street and learning that he was staying at an inn.[36] The official insisted Monteverdi move to the cardinal’s palace for the remainder of his visit. Perhaps the composer was secretive at this stage of his journey because he was consulting with contacts about the possibility of employment at one or another major Roman church or San Filippo Neri’s Oratory, or with a cardinal or Roman nobleman prior to announcing his presence to Cardinal Ferdinando. The episode is certainly odd, especially in a social environment in which information and rumors must have spread quickly among patricians and high-ranking ecclesiastics.

4.5 Could Monteverdi’s dedication of his first major sacred publication to someone other than Duke Vincenzo or his son the cardinal have been taken as an affront to the Gonzagas, especially if the pope did not pay the publication costs? Up to this point, the dedication of every publication of Monteverdi’s since his arrival in Mantua was addressed to a member of the Gonzaga family with the exception of the Fourth Book of Madrigals, which was dedicated to the Accademici Intrepidi of Ferrara—the head of which, however, was none other than Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga himself.[37] Despite the dedication to the pope, it is nevertheless curious that Monteverdi’s position as maestro della musica for Duke Vincenzo is not mentioned on the title page of the 1610 print. This omission is unusual, for it was customary for the position of the composer of a print to be indicated along with his name on the title page, and the absence of any reference to the Gonzagas suggests that neither the duke nor his sons were involved in the financing of the print; indeed, their names are absent altogether.

4.6 Evidently, however, the dedication to the pope and the absence of Duke Vincenzo’s name as Monteverdi’s employer proved unproblematic. Firstly, the Gonzagas considered the Virgin the special protectress of their principality and the city of Mantua (as did so many other cities in Italy). In 1611, there was a revitalization of the cult of Mary in Mantua, which must have been in preparation for some time previously.[38] Thus Monteverdi’s print might have been viewed as an element in that re-consecration of the city to the Virgin, with the dedication to the pope underscoring and enhancing the significance of that reaffirmation. Secondly, the Gonzagas considered themselves to have a special relationship with Pope Paul V. This is clear from the court diaries of Ippolito Donesmondi: early in 1607, at the request of Duke Vincenzo, the pope (in absentia) had proclaimed perpetual plenary indulgences on specific feast days in the Mantuan church of Sant’Andrea, a principal venue for Gonzaga dynastic and other major celebrations.[39] Dedicating the print to the pope could not have been objectionable to the Gonzagas, not only because the pope outranked them, but because it would have helped strengthen their own and others’ perception of their relationship to the pope for the duke’s maestro della musica to have consecrated such a major collection to the Supreme Pontiff. Even without the Gonzaga name in the print, Monteverdi’s reputation was sufficiently widespread that all who counted would have known he was the maestro di musica of the Duke of Mantua. Indeed, Monteverdi’s trip to Rome to present the collection to the pope clearly had Duke Vincenzo’s blessing, since the duke wrote introductory letters on the composer’s behalf to the prominent cardinals Montalto and Borghese (the latter from the same family as Pope Paul V), who in turn responded to Vincenzo with letters filled with praise for the composer.[40]

4.7 There are a number of other aspects of the relationship of this print to the Gonzagas that are worth pondering further. It is generally accepted, and I certainly believe, that the vespers music of this print was written over a period of several years.[41] If the music was composed for different liturgical occasions scattered over multiple years, then it was music originally produced for the Gonzagas. The Gonzagas were particularly devoted to Santa Barbara, the patron saint of the palace church built by Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga in the 1560s and early 1570s. Santa Barbara had been martyred by her own father for her devotion to the Trinity.[42] Now, the Trinitarian text of the motet Duo seraphim from the 1610 print has often been cited as an argument against the motets under the heading Vespro della Beata Vergine constituting part of a continuous vespers service.[43] The question that has been posed in one form or another, is “What is a Trinitarian motet doing in a vespers devoted to the Virgin, all of whose other texts are associated with Mary, either through the Marian liturgy itself or through direct or traditional allegorical references to Mary?” One might ask the same question regarding Masaccio’s famous Trinity fresco in the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence: “What is a Trinitarian fresco doing in a church dedicated to Mary, whose other decorations frequently make reference to Mary, including an entire apse wall of frescoes by Ghirlandaio and his workshop depicting the events of her life?” In the case of Masaccio’s fresco, the Virgin and St. John the Baptist witness the crucified Christ, but perhaps more importantly, the unknown patrons of the fresco are also depicted. Among the recent proposals for the identity of the patrons, one family who were devotees of the Trinity has been suggested.[44] As for Monteverdi’s Duo seraphim, it is obviously tailored to the Gonzagas and their devotion to the Trinity. This extraordinarily elaborate composition might originally have been written for the installation of three large paintings, one depicting the Gonzagas honoring the Trinity, by the court painter Peter Paul Rubens in the Jesuit Church of the Holy Trinity on Trinity Sunday in 1605.[45] Or perhaps it was performed (or re-performed) on December 29, 1605, for the beatification of Luigi Gonzaga, celebrated by a procession from the cathedral to the same Church of the Holy Trinity.[46] Thus both Masaccio’s fresco and Monteverdi’s motet are illustrations that the principal dedicatee of either a church or a published liturgical service need not exclude additional devotion to other personages not directly related to the principal dedicatee, especially when the interests of patrons are concerned. Another factor relating Monteverdi’s print to the Gonzagas is Paola Besutti’s discovery that Monteverdi’s version of the melody of the hymn Ave maris stella is closer to the version from the chant codices of Santa Barbara than to any other version.[47]

4.8 But even the claim that the Trinitarian text of Duo seraphim has nothing to do with the Virgin is incorrect. The Trinity is highlighted throughout every vesper service in the lesser doxology Gloria Patri et Filio Sancto appended to the opening response, all five psalms and the Magnificat—the Virgin’s own canticle. The Trinity is also named in the final verse of the Marian hymn Ave maris stella. As David Crook has recently demonstrated, motets inserted into the liturgy may be exegetical, reflecting in one way or another the theme or personage of a feast or a biblical reading assigned to the feast apart from any specific liturgical text of the feast. In the symbolic relations between motet texts and biblical passages or sacred persons and events, a single word or concept is often sufficient to establish the connection, and there are numerous references in the liturgical texts and biblical readings of the principal Marian feasts to the elements of the Trinity.[48] Paintings of the Coronation of the Virgin frequently depict her in heaven surrounded by the Trinity and angels. The angel Gabriel is often accompanied by the dove of the Holy Spirit in paintings of the Annunciation, sometimes together with God; less frequently, one or two members of the Trinity appear in paintings of the Assumption of the Virgin. The acclamations of the two seraphim from Isaiah at the beginning of Duo seraphim are suitable for celebrating the Virgin, even if they were originally addressed to the Old Testament God. In the second part of the motet, the three members of the Trinity each bear witness, though what they bear witness to (other than the glory of God), is left unspecified. Their witness is easily adaptable to the events in the life of the Virgin celebrated in the most prominent feasts of the Virgin.

4.9 From the standpoint of the Gonzagas, even though they were in no direct way connected to the print, they may have viewed this publication favorably and supported Monteverdi’s efforts to meet with the pope as a way of currying favor themselves with the pontiff through their court composer. Duke Vincenzo may have desired such favor in 1610, since for some time Paul V had been pressuring him to crack down on the prominent and important Jewish community in Mantua, and finally in that year, Vincenzo yielded, promising to confine the community to a ghetto, although the physical removal itself did not begin until 1612.[49] Thus we have at least two events in 1610 involving the Gonzaga court in efforts to ingratiate itself with the pope: the public commitment of Vincenzo Gonzaga to force the Jews of Mantua into a geographically restricted ghetto, and the Gonzagas’ private support of their court composer’s dedication of a major sacred music publication to the pope. The former was surely more important than the latter in the politics of the day.

4.10 Although the omission on the title page or in the dedication of Monteverdi’s position in the Gonzaga court might appear to us significant, from the publisher Amadino’s perspective Monteverdi was already quite well known as the Gonzagas’ chief composer from his madrigal and scherzi musicali publications, as well as the publication of his first opera, L’Orfeo and the widespread reputation of his second opera, Arianna. Amadino had been involved in publishing Monteverdi’s music ever since his Canzonette a tre voci of 1584, and from the Third Book of Madrigals of 1592 onward, everything Monteverdi published had been issued by Amadino. So no one knew better the market potential of a new, large collection of sacred music from an already famous composer dedicated to as high a personage as the pope. For Amadino, no employment identification would have been necessary in order to give the publication credibility among potential investors (including Amadino himself) or make it sufficiently marketable to a broad clientele. Amadino, of course, had a wide web of marketing contacts and distribution networks not only throughout Italy but also throughout Europe, and the geographic distribution of the surviving partbooks from this and other Venetian prints demonstrates how effective those networks were.[50]

5. “Suitable for the chapels or chambers of princes” and the Marketability of Monteverdi’s Print

5.1 Another aspect of the question of the print’s relationship to the Gonzagas is raised by the unusual phrase in both versions of the title: ad sacella sive principum cubicula accommodata (“suitable for the chapels or chambers of princes”) (see pars. 2.52.6). Whose princely chapels or chambers? Duke Vincenzo’s? Only once in the more than 1,500 prints of Italian sacred vocal music I have examined have I found a comparable or similar phrase to describe any of the music:

Per tutto l’Anno, Parte à Doi Chori, parte Concertati
al’vso moderno, & parte alla Breue, come si
Cantano nelle Capelle De Prencipi.
A 4. 5. & Otto Voci.
Con il Basso Continuo.
Capo della Gran Scola di S. Giouanni Euangeliſta
di Venetia.
Opera Quinta.
[Printer’s mark]
Appresso Bartolomeo Magni.

Here, Usper refers to double-choir psalms, concertato psalms in the modern style, and short, more homophonic psalms “as they are sung in the chapels of princes.” It is unclear whether the phrase “as they are sung” refers just to the psalms alla breve, the last-named in the series, or to all three categories listed. Limiting it to alla breve would appear strange, since that is not the style we would expect to be characteristic of princely chapels. In any event, what might such rubrics mean? In Monteverdi’s case, it may have been an oblique reference to private sacred music, originally composed for Duke Vincenzo himself, now to be shared among other princes through its publication. But apropos the question raised above about whether Monteverdi’s phrase refers to the Vesperae as well as the sacri concentus (see pars. 2.52.6), it is noteworthy that Usper speaks specifically of vesper psalms being sung in the chapels of princes in his title.

5.2 If Monteverdi’s and Usper’s Vespers were intended for the chapels and chambers of princes alone, would that have been a large enough market for Amadino and Magni to justify printing whatever number of copies of each they did issue? The question is further complicated by the dedications of the two prints, Monteverdi’s to the pope and Usper’s to the abbot of Candia. If the collections were intended for the use of princes, why would they be dedicated to church officials? Usper’s collection survives incomplete in only three locations (one nearly complete),[51] but Monteverdi’s survives complete, or nearly complete in several copies in Italy and Poland and in single partbooks in Italy and Sweden. Many of these copies have indications of practical use: of the two copies surviving in the archive of the Duomo in Brescia, one has a handwritten organ partitura for the Mass, and both have handwritten performance indications in the form of musica ficta. The Duomo was thus a likely venue for performances from these copies. Another copy, also with occasional handwritten performance markings, survives in the seminary of Lucca, where it had almost certainly been used in the Cathedral of San Martino in that city.[52] We do not, unfortunately, have any concrete information about the provenance of the copy in the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica di Bologna.[53] One partbook of Paul V’s own copy survives in Rome with handwritten emendations, possibly by Monteverdi himself, that were corrected by printed paste-overs in later copies from the print run (see ref. 24). Another partbook whose origin I do not know is extant in the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome. A twice-restored manuscript of the Missa in illo tempore without its Bassus Generalis is in the collection of the Sistine Chapel, where it obviously originated from the presentation copy of the print and equally obviously received performances (performances in the Sistine Chapel were unaccompanied, hence the omission of the Bassus Generalis from the ms. Vatican Cappella Sistina 107).

5.3 Music from Monteverdi’s print was also obviously performed in northern Europe. The copy at the University Library in Wrocław, Poland (formerly Breslau, Germany) contains extensive annotations for performance of the Vespers, including corrections, addition of many accidentals, and even a contrafacted German Christological text for the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria. The University Library’s copy was transferred there from the Breslau City Library holdings kept in the Lutheran church and school of St. Elisabeth. Not long after its publication, the print had been purchased for St. Elisabeth by the church’s Italophile organist, Ambrogio Profe, and added by him to Thomas Rhediger’s (1541–1576) personal collection of Italian music. The collection had been bequeathed to the city upon Rhediger’s death, but it remained housed in the church. From all the emendations and the German contrafacta not only in Monteverdi’s print but in others as well, it is obvious that the Rhediger collection had served the liturgical needs of the church, especially until Profe died in 1661, after which the collection was moved to the St. Elisabeth Gymnasium.[54]

5.4 Another single tenor partbook survives in the Royal Library of Stockholm, but without any performance annotations or indication of provenance. Although we don’t know how many copies of the Mass and Vespers Amadino printed, enough copies survive in these diverse locations to suggest that the print was rather widely disseminated, even if it was never reprinted, and that it was used in churches, probably far more often than in the “chapels and chambers of princes.”

5.5 Since the intended use of Monteverdi’s (as well as Usper’s) print extended far beyond princely chambers and chapels, I would suggest that such rubrics on title pages served multiple functions. In the first place, as a marketing ploy, they lent an elevated, “noble” status to the music. But perhaps even more importantly, they may have been an indication of modern and elaborate style, a style known to be cultivated in princely courts and chapels. Thus, any church that was looking for elaborate, modern music for special celebrations would know that it could be found in these prints. If this were indeed the purpose of such qualifications on title pages, then it would make sense that Monteverdi’s participle accommodata applied to both the Vesperae and the sacred concertos.

5.6 But even if, as some have argued, it was only the sacred concertos that were intended for “the chapels and chambers of princes” (see pars. 2.52.6), such monodic and few-voiced motets decorated by virtuoso embellishments were by no means exclusive to a courtly context. Treatises illustrating virtuoso ornaments for solo and ensemble singers and instrumentalists to improvise passaggi had been in wide circulation in both northern Italy and Rome since the 1580s, and after the turn of the century, a number of treatises also illustrated the more expressive solo grazie that had come into vogue.[55] Moreover, the Salmi passeggiati of Giovanni Luca Conforti and Francesco Severi, as well as the Arie devote of Ottavio Durante, illustrate the use of elaborate ornamentation in solo psalms and Magnificats sung in the Sistine Chapel and elsewhere in Rome.[56]Monteverdi’s motets simply incorporate passaggi and more modern grazie into the notation, as did a limited number of his contemporaries whose music was not specifically composed for or directed to a courtly environment.

5.7 Numerous examples of such notated embellishments appear in the first book of Sacri concentus by Giovanni Francesco Capello, a member of the Gerolamini order (order of St. Jerome of Fiesole) in Venice, also published in 1610.[57] His Sancta & immaculata Virginitas for two tenors begins with the same kind of trillo that is so prominent on the word Sanctus in Monteverdi’s Duo seraphim, likewise for two tenors in its first part, expanding to three in the second. Capello’s piece also concludes with a rapid passaggio and trillo, while the interior is characterized by the largely declamatory style found in Monteverdi’s Nigra sum and Audi coelum (Example 1).

5.8 Capello mixes this declamatory style with extended passaggi in the motet for solo tenor, Indica mihi (Example 2).

5.9 Capello’s motet Iam de somno for a solo soprano, echoing itself, recalls Monteverdi’s Audi coelum, where the echoing voice is a second tenor. Capello’s motet infuses the declamatory style with expressive chromaticism, and the echoes function as textual puns in the same fashion as in Monteverdi’s motet (echo puns were a common practice in both sacred and secular music of the period[58]). The conclusion of this motet exhibits passaggi and the virtuosic use of the trillo as in Sancta & immaculata Virginitas (Example 3).

5.10 Alessandro Grandi’s first book of motets, comprising mostly works for 2–4 voices emphasizing a sophisticated, declamatory, and expressive style, was also published in 1610.[59] Grandi was maestro di cappella of the Accademia dello Spirito Santo in Ferrara at the time, and his publication attained widespread popularity as demonstrated by four reprints between 1617 and 1628. Grandi’s motets do not require the virtuosity of Capello’s, which made his music more accessible to less expert singers and more useful for smaller churches, confraternities, oratorios, and private devotional performances.

5.11 These and other collections of motets comparable in many features to Monteverdi’s were designed and marketed for performance in many diverse venues, not specifically “the chapels and chambers of princes.” So the type of music Monteverdi designated by this phrase was actually a style of music in wider circulation for a variety of liturgical and devotional uses in less elevated and less luxuriant surroundings.

5.12 This observation gives us further insight into the question of whom Amadino might have expected to buy Monteverdi’s 1610 print; in fact, it appears that the possibilities were extensive. In the early seventeenth century there were numerous churches throughout Italy as well as in northern Europe with choirs large enough to perform double-choir compositions. Some of these churches had singers capable of performing virtuoso solo or few-voiced works; or at least such singers, as well as instrumentalists, could be hired from outside the church for special occasions requiring exceptional music. The numerous prints from the first twenty years of the century containing sacred music for three, four and five choirs, the records of performances by even larger numbers of choirs, and the many records of permanent instrumental ensembles in churches and princely chapels as well as the hiring of supernumerary vocal and instrumental forces for major celebrations, reveal ample resources for the performance of such elaborate musical settings as Monteverdi’s.

5.13 Apart from secular and monastic churches, Monteverdi’s music could have been sold to oratorios or to academies and confraternities, such as the scuole grandi in Venice and the many confraternities in every major and many minor Italian cities. Elaborate performances were de rigueur on special feast days and a matter of pride for such institutions, sometimes evoking intense competition between rival institutions in producing the most ostentatious celebration.[60] Private academies, such as the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, or the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona, collected contemporary music prints and sponsored performances in their own facilities or elsewhere. Institutions such as these would have been more likely to perform selected compositions from a large print such as Monteverdi’s rather than a full liturgical service, though they could have sponsored such a service in a church with which they were associated or where they had an altar. It was not uncommon for an academy to have an altar in its own facilities. The same is true of the many oratorios that sprang up not only in Italy, but elsewhere in Europe as well, following the example of San Filippo Neri’s Oratorio in Rome. By the late sixteenth century, sacred music of various types, especially laude, motets, and spiritual madrigals or canzonets, were frequently performed as part of the devotional activities of these oratorios.[61]

6. The Role of the Five Sacri concentus

6.1 The final matter deserving comment here is the role of the five sacri concentus in a vespers service performed from the print. Other vespers or Mass and vespers prints of the period include motets as well, but they are typically either gathered together at or near the end of a print, or one motet may be found at the beginning and a group of others at the end. Monteverdi’s five sacri concentus, however, as described in Chapter 2 above, are interspersed between the psalms in his print, and, along with the response, psalms, hymn, and Magnificats, are subsumed under the rubric Vespro della Beata Vergine da Concerto composto sopra canti fermi in the Bassus Generalis partbook. Of the five sacri concentus, all are certainly da concerto, though only one, the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria is composto sopra canti fermi. Thus not all of the pieces justify the universality of the description sopra canti fermi. Nevertheless, however diverse the origins of these pieces may have been, their position under the rubric Vespro della Beata Vergine in the 1610 print is unequivocal, as demonstrated in Chapter 2.

6.2 The contemporary repertoire offers us only one comparative instance of motets interspersed between psalms in the publication itself, rather than being gathered in one section of a print, even though there exist descriptions of performances in which just such an alternation between psalms and motets occurred.[62] In that other publication, Paolo Agostini’s Salmi della Madonna of 1619, there can be little question that the motets are positioned as potential substitutes for the polyphonic antiphons that are also contained in the print:

HINNO Aue Maris Stella,
ANTIFONE A vna 2. & 3. voci.
ET MOTETTI Tutti Concertati.
Maestro di Cappella in San Lorenzo in Damaso,
Discepolo, & Genero di Gio. Bernardino
Con il Basso continuo per sonare.
[Woodcut of Madonna and Child in forest setting]
IN ROMA, Per Luca Antonio Soldi. M. DC. XIX.


The title page distinguishes the motets as a separate genre of composition from the liturgical psalms, hymn, Magnificat, and antiphon settings. The indices in both the vocal and organ partbooks likewise separate the psalms, hymns, and Magnificats from the antiphons and motets, grouping the antiphons and motets together under the heading “Mottetti,” ordered by the number of voices and secondarily according to their sequence in the print itself, as can be seen from the page numbers in the Basso per l’Organo index:

Salmi à 3. voci.

Dixit Dominus, à 3. dui Canti & Basso, Del 2. Tono. Corrisponde alla 2. parte. à car.  3
Dixit Dominus à 3. dui Canti & Tenor. del primo Tono. Corrisponde alla seconda parte.  5
Laudate à 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, del 6. Tono. Corrisponde alla 2. parte.  9
Laudate à 3. Tenori. del 6. Tono. Corrisponde alla 2. par. 12
Laudate à 3. dui Canti, & Basso, del 4. Tono. 15
Lætatus à 3. dui Canti & Basso, del 6. Tono, Corrisponde alla 2. par. 18
Lætatus à 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, del 4. Tono. 21
Nisi Dominus à 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenor. del 2. Tono. Corrisp. alla 2. par. 23
Nisi Dominus à 3. dui Canti, & Basso, dell’8. Tono. 26
Lauda Hierusalem à 3. dui Canti & Basso, dell’8. Tono. Corrisp. alla 2. par. 29
Lauda Hierusalem à 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, del p. Tono. 32
1. Aue Maris Stella à 3. Canto, Tenore, & Basso, Corrisp. alla 2. par. 34
2. Aue Maris Stella à 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, Corrisp. alla 2. par. 36
Magnificat à 3. Canto, Tenore, & Basso, dell’8. Tono, Corrisp. alla 2. par. 38
Magnificat à 3 Canto, Alto, Tenore, del 2. Tono. Corrisp. alla 2. par. 40
Magnificat à 3. dui Canti, & Basso, del 2. Tono. 41
Mottetti à vna voce.
Cantate Domino, Canto. 22
A due voci.
Dum esset Rex, à due Canti, Antif. p.  4
Leua eius à 2. Canto, & Ten. Antif. 2. 11
Nigra sum à 2. Tenori, Antif. 3. 20
Iam hyems transijt à 2. Canti, & Basso, Antif. 4. 25
Veni in hortum meum à 2. Bassi. 27
Speciosa facta es à 2. Canto, & Tenore. Antifona vltima. 31
Ego dormio, Canto & Basso. 42
Ab initio à 2. Alti. 45
A 3. voci.
Sub tuum præsidium, dui Canti, & Ten.  8
Virgo prudentissima à 3. Canti. 14
Beata es Canto, Alto, & Tenore. 17
Gaudeamus omnes, dui Canti, & B. 33
Beata Mater, Antif. ad Magnificat. Canto, Tenore, & Basso. 39
Veni de Libano, dui Canti & Basso. 46

6.3 As the page numbering reveals, the actual order of the pieces within Agostini’s print, like Monteverdi’s, differs from the title page, and in Agostini’s, from the organization of the table of contents as well, since Agostini similarly intersperses the antiphons and motets between the psalms:

Dixit Dominus à 3. à versi spezzati 2. Canti, & Basso. del 2. Tono  Questo Dixit corrisponde con la 2. parte. Intonatione per l’organo [odd verses]
Dum esset rex Prima Antifona A 2. Canti
Dixit Dominus A 3. del p. Tono  Due Canti & Tenore, Corrisponde con la seconda parte Intonatione [even verses]
Sub tuum præsidium A 3. Due Canti & Tenore
Laudate pueri del 6. Tono. A 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, Corrisponde con la 2. par. Intonatione [odd verses]
Leua eius Seconda Antifona  A 2. Canto & Tenore Sonate come stà
Laudate pueri Intonatione del 6. Tono A tre Tenori, ouero tre Canti  Corrisponde alla 2. par. [even verses]
Virgo prudentissima A 3 Canti ouero 3. Tenori
Laudate pueri A 3. 2. Canti & Basso del 4. Tono Intonatione [odd verses]
Beata es Virgo A tre  Canto, Tenore, & Alto
Lætatus sum A 3. Due Canti & Basso del 6. Tono Corrisponde alla 2. par. Intonatione [odd verses]
Nigra sum Tertia Antifona A 2. Tenori
Lætatus sum à 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore del 4. Tono [even verses]
Cantate Domino Canto solo
Nisi Dominus A 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, Corrisponde alla 2. par. del 2. Tono [even verses]
Iam hyems Transijt Antifona quarta A 2. Canto & Basso
Nisi Dominus del 8. Tono A 3. Due Canti, & Basso, Corrisponde alla seconda parte Intonatione [odd verses]
Veni in hortum meum A due Bassi
Lauda Hierusalem A 3. Due Canti & Basso, dell’8. Tono Corrisponde alla 2. par. Intonatione [odd verses]
Speciosa facta es Quinta & vltima Antifona  A 2. Canto, & Tenore
Lauda Hierusalem A 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore, Intonatione del primo Tono [even verses]
Gaudeamus omnes A 3. Due Canti, & Basso
Aue Maris stella A 3. Canto, Tenore & Basso A versi spezzati  Corrisp. alla 2. par. Alla quarta bassa can. [4 verses]
Aue Maris stella A 3. Canto, Alto, & Tenore  Corrisp. alla 2. par. [3 verses]
Magnificat à 3. Canto, Tenore, & Basso dell’8. Tono, Corrisponde alla 2. par. Intonatione [odd verses]
Beata Mater Antifona ad Magnificat  à 3.  Canto, & Tenore, & Basso
Magnificat à 3.  Canto, Alto, & Tenore del 2. Tono  Corrisponde alla 2. par. Intonatione [even verses]
Ego dormio A 2. Canto & Basso
Magnificat à 3. del 2. Tono Dui Canti, & Basso  C.p. Inton. [odd verses]
Ab initio à 2. Alti, & facendo sonare alla 4. bassa, si potrà cantare à 2. Tenori Sonate come stà
Veni de Libano A 3. Due Canti & Basso

6.4 Unlike Monteverdi’s print, Agostini’s includes multiple settings of all the psalms, the hymn, and the Magnificat, providing alternatim versions of both odd and even verses for each. The alternate verses could be performed in plainchant, in falsobordone, or on the organ. After the first setting of each psalm, Agostini, unlike Monteverdi, places a polyphonic setting of the appropriate antiphon from the Feast of Holy Mary of the Snow, a feast relevant especially to Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. In the first post-Tridentine breviary of 1568 these antiphons were also applied to the Feasts of the Visitation, Nativity, and Conception of the Virgin, as well as the Common of Holy Women, ultimately becoming the set of antiphons for feasts of Mary in the Common of the Saints. Thus each of the first psalm and Magnificat settings is provided with a proper Marian antiphon as a few-voiced motet.[63] But each of the additional settings of a psalm or the Magnificat is followed by a different text, a motet which, in the sequence of Agostini’s collection, clearly provides a substitute for each of the canonical polyphonic antiphons for those psalms and Magnificat. Whether a celebrant would have intoned or spoken the post-psalm canonical antiphons while such motets or instrumental pieces were being performed likely varied with the individuals involved.[64]

6.5 Thus, on the basis of Agostini’s print, of the common practice of insertions at the position of the post-psalm antiphon, of Monteverdi’s rubric in his Bassus Generalis partbook, and most importantly, of the distinctive succession in which Amadino printed the compositions, we are justified in assuming that the intention of Monteverdi’s publication was to provide, in addition to the Mass, a complete concertato vespers service. This service includes motets and a sonata as substitutes for the antiphons or as insertions superimposed upon the post-psalm sotto voce antiphons, and an extra, alternative Magnificat for use either on the vigil of the feast or in circumstances where the instruments required by the first Magnificat a 7 were unavailable. It should be emphasized, however, that providing such a complete concertato service did not inhibit any maestro di cappella from mining the collection for individual pieces, nor anyone from extracting individual motets for performance in non-liturgical devotional settings. Part of the marketability of such a print was just such a multiplicity of options for its use.

6.6 Even though it seems evident that the five sacri concentus were intended to serve as insertions between the psalms, two questions have often been raised: 1) “What is the Trinitarian motet Duo seraphim doing in a vespers service for the Virgin?” and 2) “Why is there no antiphon at the Magnificat and what should be done to provide one?” The first question has already been addressed above in the discussion about the possible origins of Duo seraphim and the importance of the Trinity to the Gonzagas (see pars. 4.74.8 above). And even though the collection was published for marketing far beyond Mantua, it was not unusual for publications for general consumption to contain one or more pieces specific to the composer’s employing institution or patron.[65]

6.7 The question regarding the “missing” antiphon to the Magnificat is of a different order. David Blazey has approached this problem by noting the similarity between the litany incorporated in the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria and the Magnificat antiphon Sancta Maria succerre meis for Our Lady of the Snow (expanded, like the other antiphons for this feast, to other Marian feasts—see par. 6.5).[66] Blazey has suggested that despite the order in which Monteverdi’s sacri concentus appear in the print, the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria was actually intended to serve as the Magnificat antiphon rather than as an antiphon substitute after Lauda Jerusalem. This thesis is certainly plausible, and Blazey’s argument is quite reasonable, but it does assume that Amadino’s order is incorrect, for which we have no corroborating evidence. Moreover, it leaves the psalm Lauda Jerusalem without an antiphon, which must be supplied by a plainchant antiphon, a motet from another source, or an organ or instrumental substitute. Whatever alternatives to Amadino’s order that might be proposed, the only documentary evidence we have is that order itself, and I prefer, in the absence of contradictory documentation, to rely on the order Amadino published, which is the same in all the relevant partbooks and appears quite purposeful. As for the missing antiphon at the Magnificat (or the missing antiphon for Lauda Jerusalem if Blazey is correct), there is no specific explanation available. Monteverdi may not have had what he thought to be an appropriate motet at hand, or may not have had time to compose one (the fourth motet, Audi coelum, with its numerous errors and discrepancies between the solo tenor, its echo, and the upper parts as reproduced in the Bassus Generalis partbook, appears to have been written and copied hastily, without an opportunity to test the piece in performance or to check carefully the notation). We simply have no way of knowing why Monteverdi did not include a sixth motet. The solution for the user of the collection is to perform the plainchant Magnificat (or Lauda Jerusalem) antiphon proper to the feast at hand, substitute another motet from another source, or perform an instrumental or organ sonata or canzona at the position of the post-Magnificat antiphon.

7. Conclusion

7.1 As we can see from just this brief consideration of a single print, the questions and issues to be investigated, not only with regard to Monteverdi’s Mass and Vespers, but with respect to the more than 3,700 other Italian sacred music prints from this period included in the Kurtzman/Schnoebelen catalogue and RISM-Switzerland database, are complicated and broad ranging. They provide enough material for musicologists for untold years to come. But with respect to individual prints, such as the subject of this paper, many of the principal questions may in the end never be answered to our complete satisfaction.

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