Gregorio Allegri

(1582 - 1652)


Italian composer. In his youth he sang in the choir of S. Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, and studied with Giuseppe Maria Nanino. He was later a chorister and composer at Fermo cathedral and at Tivoli, and became a Papal chapel singer in 1629. It was for the Papal choir that Allegri wrote the famous Miserere, a psalm setting mainly in simple falsobordone for two antiphonal choirs transformed by exceptionally high ornamented passages (which may in fact not have been by Allegri). These were a closely guarded secret for many generations; Burney, the historian, caused the work to be made available to English cathedral choirs, Mozart copied it out by ear, and several Romantic composers enthused over it. Allegri also wrote fine polyphonic Masses in the idiom of Palestrina without continuo, and small-scale concertato motets in the modern manner for churches with limited resources.

Recommended further reading:

Allegri's Miserere: A Quest for the Holy Grail? By Ben Byram-Wigfield.

Links on this site:

A Partial Gregorio Allegri Discography | VG: Sacred Music in the Seicento