OPE GREGORY XIII was a great supporter of Palestrina, who returned the favor by frequently dedicating musical scores to him. Palestrina also dedicated compositions (on occasion) to the pope’s natural son. Wait…his son?
Yes, it turns out that—during his early life—Gregory XIII had a son (Giacomo Boncompagni) with an unmarried woman. Someday, I’d like to learn more about this, because it must have been hard for Gregory XIII to encourage Catholics not to break the 6th Commandment, considering his past. For the record, Palestrina seems to have been a very holy man.
The Diario of 1594 records an interesting anecdote about Pope Clement VIII. The pontifical choir sang “In diademate capitis” by Giovanni Maria Nanini. This motet seemed to displease Pope Clement, and he asked whose composition it was. They told him it was Nanini.
Because Nanini was known as a great composer, 1 the pope attempted to soften his criticism, declaring that it was the words of the motet he objected to. However, the maestro di cappella responded that these words came from the Bible…and Pope Clement fell silent!
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 I’m told Nanini was even a colleague of Palestrina at a special music school.