James D. Christie
Fiori Musicali of Italian baroque composer Girolamo Frescoabldi represents one of the most important and exquisite works of its time. Today, the means for performing such music as it might have been in 17th century Italy is neither well known nor practiced. This project sought to discern the methods for preparing this music in a historically accurate fashion for a final performance of Messa della Madonna in its originally intended liturgical context. Research began with ten days of study in Italy under Francesco Cera, renowned organist and expert in the repertoire. I gathered information from lessons and practice on period instruments in the Rome and Latium regions, visits to churches where Frescobaldi taught and played, and archival work in the Biblioteca Catanese. Study continued in the U.S. with examination of manuscripts and treatises and visits to historical model instruments. Much of the researched centered on discerning how to organize the movements within a mass in today’s post-Vatican II church. I conducted a search for the Gregorian chants of the mass that Frescobaldi would have known in his time. With regard to the organ versets, it becomes clear that many of these pieces would be played on a 16-foot registration or all’ottava alta (the higher octave of the instrument), producing ample contrast between the different pieces. These discoveries yielded an engaging, informed, and contextually appropriate performance. I will doubtlessly utilize the work of this project in my further studies.
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Ross, Abraham D. '16, "A Historical Performance of Frescobaldi's Fiori Musicali" (2014). Mellon Summer Research. Paper 2.
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