ABSTRACT

67It goes without saying that seventeenth-century Rome was an incubator of new music. But it does bear mentioning that old music dominated the city’s soundscape: Gregorian chant, sung day and night in countless devotional spaces by thousands of religious. They chanted perpetually not so much to attract listeners as to carry out the Opus Dei, the ritual work God had given his Church to observe until the end of time. Its Roman roots ran deep. One of city’s leading sons, Gregory the Great, had been divinely elected to receive the corpus of chant. By the seventeenth century, his ancestral home and the oratory he had established had been subsumed into the cultic complex of S. Gregorio Magno al Celio. Here, from behind an imposing new facade, Gregory’s chants still wafted on the voices of Camaldolese monks. 2