I came across Allegri’s beautiful piece of late Renaissance choral music, Miserere mei, Deus. Aside from being transportive in its own right, the historical detail regarding its development is fascinating:
“at some point, it became forbidden to transcribe the music and it was allowed to be performed only at those particular services, adding to the mystery surrounding it.
According to the popular story (backed up by family letters), the fourteen-year-old Mozart was visiting Rome, when he first heard the piece during the Wednesday service. Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory, returning to the Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections. Some time during his travels, he met the British historian Dr Charles Burney, who obtained the piece from him and took it to London, where it was published in 1771. Once the piece was published, the ban was lifted; Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope, only instead of excommunicating the boy, the Pope showered praises on him for his feat of musical genius.”
There is a lesson in there on the weakness of security through obscurity. That is assuming others are incapable of doing things you’d find difficult yourself (or being plan arrogant). There’s also the love of skill; something I think most people share. The Pope appreciating dexterity so much as to forgive Mozart’s transgression.
I heard the version sung by The Sixteen.