The composition of the Italian composer Gregorio Allegri “Miserere mei, Deus” is a setting of a 51 Psalm, that was written in 1630-ies and during that period of the Pope Urban VIII was played exclusively in the Sistine Chapel.
The composition was one of the best and most famous work of Allegri and represented the top of the renaissance polyphonic choir.
But, why did Vatican kept this composition in secred over 150 years?
The idea of the Pope was to keep the reputation of the music. Performance of this composition was allowed only during the eve of Easter and only within the Sistine Chapel. Performance of this piece in any other location or copying the notes, was stricly forbidden.
The Church shared only three copies of hte composition to the “most deserving and most prominent individuals“ – the king of Portugal, friar Giovanni Battista and the tzar Leopold I.
But, in 1770, a 14 year old teenager wrote the composition flawlessly and also without any insight of any of the three previously mentioned copies. He did that with his incredible sence to listen. That teenager was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who during his visit to Rome heard the composition during the church service.
That day was Ash Wednesday and later that day, Mozard wrote down everything he heard, and the next day he went to listen to the composition one more time to make sure that there is no mistakes. After he did that and wrothe down the entire composition, unaware of the concequences, Mozart started performing the composition to the wide audience.
Within three months, entire Europe was admiring not only the wonderfull composition, but the teenager who in a genius way managed to write down this piece and present it to the whole world.
Even the current Pope at that time, Pope Clement XIV didn’t remained indifferent, so not only that he removed the prohibition of performing this composition, but he awarded Mozart with Order of the Golden Spur.
After Mozart’s version, the composition “Miserere mei, Deus” was printed by Charles Barney in 1771 and it became such a huge hit that even other famous composers had made their versions.