Domenico Bartolucci

Domenico Bartolucci
His Eminence 
Domenico Bartolucci
Director emeritus of the Sistine Chapel Choir
See none
Ordination 23 December 1939
Created Cardinal 20 November 2010
Personal details
Born May 7, 1917 (1917-05-07) (age 94)
Borgo San Lorenzo, Italy[1]

Domenico Bartolucci (born 7 May 1917) is an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is Director Emeritus of the Sistine Chapel Choir and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and is recognized in the field of music both as a director and a prolific composer. Considered among the most authoritative interpreters of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Bartolucci led the Sistine Chapel Choir in performances worldwide, and also directed numerous concerts with the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, including a tour of the former Soviet Union.

On 20 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the College of Cardinals. Because Bartolucci is over the age of 80, he is not eligible to vote in any future Papal conclave.



Early career

Coat of Arms of Cardinal Bartolucci

At a very young age, Bartolucci entered the seminary in Florence, where he was recruited as a singer . Upon the death of his master Bagnoli, Bartolucci succeeded him as director of the Chapel of the Duomo of Florence. In those years he began to compose his first masses, motets, and organ music, as well as madrigals and chamber music.[2]

At the end of 1942 Bartolucci went to Rome in order to deepen the knowledge of sacred music. Having served as Deputy Master of the St. John Lateran, in 1947 he was appointed Master of the Liberian Choir of St. Mary Major, succeeding Licinio Refice, absent. In 1952, on the advice of Lorenzo Perosi, he was appointed Deputy Master of the Sistine Chapel.

Bartolucci and the Sistine Chapel Choir

When Perosi died in 1956, Pope Pius XII gave him the position of permanent director of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir.[3] In 1997 Bartolucci was replaced at the helm of the Sistine Chapel by Msgr. Giuseppe Liberto, an event which aroused some controversy in the context of liturgical music.[4] Among those most against the decision, motivated by Papal Master of Ceremonies Archbishop Piero Marini, was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,[5] who after he became Pope Benedict XVI, recalled Bartolucci to direct a concert in the Sistine Chapel on June 24, 2006, in which he offered music from the repertoire of sacred polyphony of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina alongside his own compositions including the motet Oremus pro Pontifice Nostro Benedicto ("Let us pray for our Pontiff Benedict"), dedicated to the Pope.[6]

The ensemble of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir upon the death of Perosi was in poor condition. The situation was restored, however, thanks to the commitment of Bartolucci and personal interest of Pope John XXIII. In the forty years of Bartolucci's leadership, the choir balanced the obligation of papal liturgies with tours in various countries throughout the world, including Austria, France, Belgium, the Philippines, Australia, the United States, Turkey, Poland, and Japan. In the years of the Second Vatican Council Bartolucci, against abandoning Latin, committed himself that the liturgical reform should not take a direction hostile to sacred music.[7]

Activity as a composer

Bartolucci was also dedicated to teaching and composition. He was a child prodigy, having composed his first Mass at age 12; his best known Mass is the "Misa Jubilei," written in the Holy Year 1950.[8] The body of his work already published fills more than forty volumes and includes Masses, motets, madrigals, hymns, symphonic, organ, and chamber music, and above all a series of oratorios for soloists, chorus and orchestra. His three-act opera Brunelleschi has never yet been performed.

The concept of music for Bartolucci is based on naturalness and spontaneity, avoiding abstractions and abstruseness. His reference points are Gregorian chant, Palestrina, and Verdi. Characteristic of Bartolucci's aesthetic conception is a respect for tradition, whose base lies in "a considerable severity of song and a certain limpid and solid polyphony", as he describes in the preface to his First Book of Motets.

Creation as cardinal

Styles of
Domenico Bartolucci
CardinalCoA PioM.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See none

On 20 October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI announced Mgr Bartolucci's appointment to the College of Cardinals in the consistory scheduled for the 20 November recognising him for his service to the Church. He was created Cardinal-Deacon of Santissimi Nomi di Gesù e Maria in Via Lata, usually referred to as Gesù e Maria. At his elevation, Bartolucci became the fourth-oldest member of the College. Because he is over the age of 80, under the terms of Pope Paul VI's 1970 motu proprio Ingravescentem Aetatem he is ineligible to vote in any future Papal conclave.[9] Bartolucci was excused from the requirement that a cardinal be or become a bishop.


  1. ^ ", Domenico Cardinal Bartolucci". Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Fondazione Domenico Bartolucci. "It Maestro" (in Italian). Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Pope Names New Leader Of Sistine Chapel Choir". New York Times. December 22, 1956. 
  4. ^ Sandro Magister (March 12, 2008). "Great Music in the Churches of Rome. But in the Vatican, They're Deaf". Mar 12, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ Sandro Magister (May 7, 2002). "Caso Bartolucci. Maestro, qua si cambia musica" (in Italian). L'Espresso. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  6. ^ Sandro Magister (June 27, 2006). "Musica nuova in Vaticano, non solo in segreteria di stato" (in Italian). L'Espresso. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  7. ^ Ruff, Anthony (2007). Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations. Chicago: Hillenbrand Books. p. 340 & n.7. ISBN 981-1-59525-021-6. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  8. ^ Sacred Music in Crisis - Cardinal Bartolucci interview
  9. ^ Pope Paul VI. "Ingravescentem Aetatem" (in Italian). Retrieved 23 November 2010. 

External links

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