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Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Irrefutable proof that Marc-Antoine Charpentier did indeed go to Rome and study with Carissimi

(Formerly a "factlet" dated September 13, 2013)

We have been overlooking irrefutable proof that Marc-Antoine Charpentier did indeed go to Rome and that he studied with Carissmi while there!

At a conference on Marc-Antoine Charpentier's oratorios, held at the Abbey of Royaumont in May 2013, two young Italian participants almost spontaneously reacted in the same way when the discussion turned to the composer's stay in Rome: "If he really did go to Rome...!" they exclaimed. (It turns out that, like Orest and me, they had searched in vain for him in the collection of known as the stati d'anime, that is, the annual parish records of the faithful who had taken confession and would therefore be allowed to take communion at Easter). They were considerably taken aback when I replied: "Oh, he had to have gone to Rome. He would not have dared allow a lie to appear several times in the Mercure Galant. Such dishonesty might well have ended in his being promptly dismissed from the service of Mlle de Guise!"

Thinking about the Society of Jesus while preparing for my Musing on the comments about Charpentier published in the Journal de Trévoux in 1704 and 1709, made me aware that the Journal provides even stronger proof that Charpentier went to Rome! In fact, it offers irrefutable proof that he did indeed study with Carissimi, just as the Mercure Galant repeatedly asserted. <p cThe 1709 article in the says this about Charpentier:

"[Charpentier] étoit l'Elève du Carissimi. C'est sous ce grand maître qu'il avoit acquis le talent si rare d'exprimer par les tons de la Musique le sens des paroles, et de toucher (p. 1488)"
"Charpentier was the pupil of Carissimi. It was under this great master
that he had acquired the very rare talent of expressing by the tones of
the music the meaning of the words and of moving [his listeners]."

The Journal of Trévoux was published by the Jesuits at the Collège de Louis-le-Grand in Paris. And the Society of Jesus did not print hearsay! If the Jesuit journalists informed their readership throughout Europe that Charpentier had studied with Carissmi — the music master at the Jesuit-administered Germanicum (German College) in Rome —, then we can be absolutely certain that Charpentier did in fact study with him. And since Carissimi is known to have been carrying out his duties at the Germanicum in 1666-67 (the probable years when Charpentier encountered Dassoucy there), we can in addition be absolutely certain that Marc-Antoine Charpentier did indeed spend time in Rome.