"Popes´ Musician" Celebrates 85th Birthday

Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci Is Director of Cappella Sistina

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ROME, JUNE 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- For 70 years, Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci has lived St. Augustine´s maxim: «He who sings, prays twice.»

This priest and composer, who is celebrating his 85th birthday, was appointed by Pope Pius XII as director of the «Cappella Sistina,» the Vatican´s «schola cantorum,» world renowned over the past five centuries for its sacred music. He held this post until just over two years ago.

He was a child prodigy, having composed his first Mass at age 12. His best known Mass is the «Misa Jubilei,» written in the Holy Year 1950. His most recent composition is a «Stabat Mater,» requested by John Paul II, who wished to have a hymn dedicated to the Sorrowful Mother.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper Avvenire about the popes´ taste in music, Monsignor Bartolucci said that Pius XII liked to relax by playing the violin. John XXIII was passionate about music; when he convoked the Second Vatican Council he asked the monsignor to compose the motet «Attende Domine.»

As for John Paul II, one of his favorite pastimes is to meet with singers «and perhaps he would have liked to have been part of the chorus,» the monsignor recalled. «One day I congratulated him on his beautiful voice. He burst out laughing.»

In his compositions, Monsignor Bartolucci follows the principles of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (died 1594), the greatest composer of sacred music of all times. It is not about making music for the sake of music, but about translating the text into notes, «faithfully,» the monsignor emphasized.

Given the occasion of Monsignor Bartolucci´s birthday, several European countries are holding concerts to perform his works. The concerts are the initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, as well as several universities and musical associations.

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