At St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, in Great Western Road, Glasgow, tonight for Ash Wednesday Service, the beginning of Lent. In itself it is a quiet yet very moving event, and in this instance, included the wonderful ‘Miserere’ by Gregorio Allegri. He was born in Rome in 1582 and lived to the age of 70. Was a priest, a tenor, and composer. ‘Miserere’ was written for four soloists and a five-part choir, and was for the exclusive use of the Sistine Chapel, who would perform it during Holy Week (so we were a little early at the Cathedral!).
I think the story is well-known that it was forbidden to copy the music, on pain of excommunication, but Mozart was in Rome and heard it on the Wednesday, and copied it down from memory. He went back on the Friday to sort out a few possible mistakes! It was later published and became available for performance.
Because of the seriousness of the act, Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope, but instaed of being criticesed, he was praised for his musical feat.
Whatever the history it is a most uplifting piece and takes us into other realms of thought. If you have not heard it before, why not take a few minutes from your crowded life, and listen to it. You won’t be disappointed.