Documento Del Mese Ottobre 2015
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Marble and music: at the sources of the beauty of the Milan Cathedral

The Document of the Month of October 2015

As the Veneranda Fabbrica has been preserving and safeguarding for centuries the beauty of the Milan Cathedral, taking care of every detail, every statue, window, altar or decor – with a tireless service to art and faith -, in the same way the Fabbrica itself cares about another element of beauty, maybe less material, but equally important. It is Music that, together with the mighty architecture of the Duomo, reaching toward the sky, envelops the soul of the worshippers and tourists that every day admire the beautiful Cathedral.

THE MUSIC OF THE CATHEDRAL. Since its origin, when the Fabbrica started the impressive effort of the construction of the Duomo, its commitment is proven in making sure that the magnificence of the growing building was paired by an equal solemnity in the celebrations, through the music accompanying them. Many are the documents from the Archive through which the “musical history” of the Duomo can be retraced. This month’s document is interesting as it is a brief historical excursus titled Notitie antiche. Dell’introduttione d’Organista e Musici nella Metropolitana di Milano (AS cart. 404 fasc.1). It is a press text without a date, probably dating back to the end of the XVII century, followed – in the same envelop – by a manuscript draft.

THE GREAT ORGAN. The document follows the first steps of the musical life of the Duomo: between June and July 1395 – therefore, just few years after the beginning of the construction – it is reported the Capitular order prescribing to make a beautiful Organ, in order to keep up with the dignity of the Commendable Fabbrica itself and the honour of the City. The document continues recalling that, Made the Organ, the Chapter came in order to appoint an Organist: the same would have been Antonio Monti da Prato, who, in 1395, was the first stable organist of the Cathedral, paid by the Veneranda Fabbrica to play in quibuslibet festis principalibus, dominicis et festis B. Marie et Apostolorum et vigiliis earum et in quibuscumque aliis diebus.

THE MUSICAL CHAPEL. During the following centuries, as the document recalls, there would have been the introduction of Musici per il canto (singers), the designation of a Kapellmeister, Matteo da Perugia, the foundation of a Sing School for the young musicians and many other provisions. Still today the Fabbrica, through the activity of the Musical Chapel – which is the most ancient cultural institution in Milan – is continuing in its centuries-old commitment since 1402.