Missa Secunda Pontificalis: A Sacred Choral Work by Lorenzo Perosi

Missa Secunda Pontificalis: A Sacred Choral Work by Lorenzo Perosi

Missa Secunda Pontificalis: A Sacred Choral Work by Lorenzo Perosi

Missa Secunda Pontificalis is a mass for three mixed voices and organ composed by Lorenzo Perosi in 1906. It is one of the many sacred choral works that Perosi wrote during his long career as a composer and maestro di cappella of the Sistine Chapel. Perosi was a prominent figure in the revival of sacred music in Italy at the turn of the 20th century, and his style was influenced by Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, and Romantic harmony.

The Missa Secunda Pontificalis consists of five movements: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. The music is simple and elegant, with clear melodies and harmonies that reflect the text and mood of each section. The organ accompaniment supports the voices and adds some color and contrast. The mass is suitable for liturgical use as well as for concert performance.

The score of Missa Secunda Pontificalis is available for free download from IMSLP[^1^], a website that provides public domain sheet music. The score is scanned from the original edition published by Ricordi in 1906. There is also a recording of the mass by Angelicum on Archive.org[^2^], a website that offers free access to digital media. The recording features a choir and organ conducted by Perosi himself.

Missa Secunda Pontificalis is a beautiful example of Perosi’s sacred music, which combines tradition and innovation in a harmonious way. It is a testament to his devotion and skill as a composer and a musician.

Perosi was born in Tortona, Piedmont, in 1872, into a musical and religious family. His father was Giuseppe Perosi, a renowned choir director and composer of church music. Lorenzo studied with his father and then with Michele Saladino at the Milan Conservatory. He also spent a year in Regensburg, Germany, where he learned from Franz Xaver Haberl, an expert on Palestrina and Lassus.

In 1894, Perosi became the maestro di cappella of Imola Cathedral, where he composed his first oratorios, such as La risurrezione di Lazzaro and La passione di Cristo. His fame soon spread throughout Italy and beyond, and he received commissions from various institutions and patrons. In 1898, he was appointed maestro di cappella of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, where he composed his most famous oratorio, Il transito di San Francesco d’Assisi.

In 1903, Perosi became the maestro direttore perpetuo of the Sistine Chapel Choir in Rome, a prestigious position that he held until his death in 1956. He worked for five popes, especially Pope Pius X, who was a great supporter of his music and of the reform of sacred music. Perosi composed many masses, motets, psalms, hymns, and other liturgical works for the papal ceremonies and celebrations. He also continued to write oratorios on biblical and hagiographic themes, such as Mosè, Il Natale del Redentore, and San Benedetto.

Perosi’s works cover a wide range of genres and styles, from Gregorian chant to modern harmony. He composed 22 oratorios, 54 masses, 342 motets, and many other sacred pieces for choir, organ, and orchestra. He also wrote some secular works, such as symphonies, chamber music, and songs. His music is characterized by melodic richness, expressive intensity, and rhythmic vitality. He often used modal scales and ancient modes to create a mystical and solemn atmosphere. He also experimented with polytonality and atonality in some of his later works.

Perosi’s music was admired by many musicians and critics of his time, such as Giacomo Puccini, Arturo Toscanini, Pietro Mascagni, Romain Rolland, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and Luigi Pirandello. He influenced many composers of sacred music in Italy and abroad, such as Ottorino Respighi, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Marcel Dupré, and Olivier Messiaen. He was also a respected teacher and conductor, who trained many singers and musicians for the Sistine Chapel Choir and other institutions.

Perosi’s life was marked by both success and suffering. He suffered from mental illness and nervous breakdowns that affected his work and health. He was hospitalized several times in psychiatric clinics in Italy and Switzerland. He also had to face the opposition of some ecclesiastical authorities who did not appreciate his musical innovations. Despite these difficulties, he never lost his faith and his passion for music. He died in Rome in 1956, at the age of 83.

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