To Begin, Continue and Complete: Music in the Wider Context of Artistic Patronage by Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) and the Hymn Cycle of CS 15
A thesis accepted for the degree of PhD at the University of Manchester
This thesis takes as its area of exploration the papal chapel choir and its repertory, alongside the papacy and its patronage of the arts at the end of the fifteenth century. It draws on previous research concerning the singers, polyphonic manuscripts and artistic culture of the Vatican, but places Pope Alexander VI as the central figure of the thesis, showing schemes of patronage that shaped his reign. The research presents a transcription and analysis of the hymn cycle contained within the manuscript Cappella Sistina 15, alongside an assessment of the polyphonic music collection and places these against accounts of music making and evidence of music copying at the papal chapel during Alexander’s reign. The thesis also considers the environment of secular music making at Alexander’s court. In order to provide a context in which to understand this information, the life of Alexander VI is examined, tracing his artistic patronage and involvement with music both prior to his election and afterwards. Of particular note is the engagement of the artist Pintoricchio to decorate the papal apartments. Here, the artist’s representation of music as part of the seven liberal arts is analysed, providing a unique, contemporary and important insight into music practices in Alexander’s court. Three classifications of patronage are identified for Alexander’s reign, while also showing that these were strategies that he had used before he became pope. The music culture at the papal chapel is shown to be part of this strategy, through the consolidation of old music and the introduction of new music into the repertory, ending a task that had taken approximately 60 years. It shows that Alexander’s reign was an important period musically, that instituted new musical traditions and created an environment that prepared the way for the golden ages of patronage of Julius II and Leo X.