Cappella Musicale del Duomo di Modena *1453*

Cappella Musicale del Duomo di Modena *1453*

The Musical Chapel of the Cathedral of Modena

Starting from research work on the Musical Chapel history from the Capitulary Archives, it is not possible to establish an official founding date for this important institution. What we do know is that on April 30th 1106 the solemn translation of St. Geminiano’s body took place “with hymns and singing” from the old to the new basilica ("Relatio translationis S. Geminiani" - Capitulary Code from XII century).
Much later, in a document dated November 26th 1436, we can read about the existence of an organ, which at that time was placed in the same position as today’s sacristy door, which needed to be exchanged with a more versatile one ("Ancient Italian organs" by C. Giovannini and P. Tollari).
This information leads us to believe there was a liturgical and musical vitality within the cathedral, although it does not tell us who was technically in charge of the problem.

In 1453 Alessandro de Galvan from Bologna is hired as organist by the Cathedral Chapter. Since then, this position was always filled, and has seen the advent of forty-three official organists, often supported by a second organist. In the same year, Don Zohano da La Magna, although not hired for this, was to all effects the Chapel Maestro. Since then, we have seen forty-nine Chapel Maestros and among them we can proudly mention some of the most famous musicians in Italian history: J. Fogliani (1505 - 1520), O. Vecchi (1583 - 1586 e 1593 - 1604), G. Capilupi (1604 - 1614), M. Uccellini (1647 - 1665), G.M. Bononcini (1673 - 1678) and A.M. Pacchioni (1694 - 1738), whose works are world-renowned!

Based on these findings, it is broadly recognized that 1453 can be officially considered as the Foundation Year of the Musical Chapel of the Cathedral of Modena. Indeed from this date and up to present days its activities have never suffered any interruption, even if carried out under different forms during this long period of time.
Established with the aim of providing music to the solemn liturgies taking place in the Cathedral, the Musical Chapel is the oldest musical institution in Modena, and one of the oldest Cathedral Musical Chapels in Europe, and moreover the world.


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