“L’Arte de l Contrappunto” at the Sistine Chapel and at the San Filippo Neri Oratory: Palestrina, Nanino, Soriano, etc.
The papacy through a succession of enthusiastic patrons had always provided a privilege status to art. Whether it relates to institutional, private, religious or secular patronage, art in general and music in particular are items related to spiritual or temporal power registered in a political, religious and social context.. The relation between the patron and the artist which was often seen as a businesslike patronage, was in fact a complex and complimentary relation between a type of authority which feeds on art inasmuch as artists live on their patron’s demands whilst influencing the latter’s taste.
The musical patronage develops in particular among two religious orders during the Counter Reformation : the Jesuits founded by St Ignatius of Layola and the Oratorians founded by St Philip Neri.. But the aim of the singing is “to lead the brothers’ choir to tears, more than the lyrics succeed in moving the mind”.
If the Jesuits, loyal to their traditional mission, use operatic stage with a real teatro erected in front of the altar for major celebrations, the Oratorians prefer the use of music in accordance to the words of St Philip Neri “to attract the sinners, through soft illusion, to the spiritual exercises of the Oratory”.