A number of fascinating concerts are scheduled in coming days in Chicago and environs featuring the Cardinal Bartolucci Choir. The cardinal was the late choirmaster of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

Following is a little more information about the cardinal and some posters for the Chicago area events. I’ve been collaborating in small ways on some interesting projects for the Rome-based Bartolucci Foundation and its executive director, Alessandro Biciocchi who is in Chicago these days with the Choir.

DEDICATED TO MUSIC. Domenico Bartolucci was born in 1917 in Borgo San Lorenzo in the Province of Florence. He began composing at the age of 14 and in 1939 became a priest. After several years as the Maestro in the Cathedral of

Florence, he continued his studies in Rome, the cradle of polyphony and religious music. In just a short time he became known among the various musical chapels of the Papal Basilicas and in 1956, at just 39 years old, Pope Pius XII appointed him to the prestigious office of Perpetual Maestro and Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

THE GREAT MAESTRO OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL. Domenico Bartolucci reformed and revived the Sistine Chapel Choir as we now know it through a major project approved by St. John XXIII: a specific office, a defined body of adult singers, and a school of child singers. For almost fifty years he oversaw the music of the solemn papal liturgies, contributing to their splendor and sacredness. Furthermore, he energetically promoted the Sistine Chapel Choir’s concert activities, an effective method of evangelization, with memorable tours and hundreds of concerts that brought the inestimable musical tradition of the Catholic church to the most prestigious venues in Italy and the world, unanimously appreciated by audiences and critics alike.

Maestro Bartolucci also dedicated himself to teaching at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory and at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. In 1965 he was named an Academic of Santa Cecilia and, with this prestigious institution, was directly involved in important concerts in the Vatican as well.

CARDINAL OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH. 2010: Holy Father Benedict XVI, in an extraordinary gesture, decided to elevate him to cardinal, the first time in history for a Maestro of the Sistine Chapel, thus expressing the Church’s gratitude and recognition of a life dedicated entirely to religious music in service to Peter’s successors.

COMPOSER. Masses, motets, chamber music, organ music, symphonies: an
extraordinary collection of musical works published in over 40 volumes. And last

but not least, the “Brunellesco”, a monumental lyric opera in three acts composed to honor the City of Florence and dedicated to the construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.

(The Bartolucci Foundation in Rome – – is making a concerted effort to bring to fruition in Florence this opera, the only one ever written by a cardinal. There is exciting news related to this and I’ll be offering more information in coming months.)


FYI: Sixty years ago today, January 25, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Pope John XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council at the Basilica of St. Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls in Rome.


Be sure to tune in this weekend to Vatican Insider when my guest is Alessandro Biciocchi, secretary general of the Bartolucci Foundation. We talk about a fascinating project developed by the Foundation but first: Who is the Bartolucci of the Bartolucci Foundation? We’re talking about Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, who died at age 96 in December 2013. He was director of the Sistine Chapel Choir under six popes for almost five decades and was a prolific composer of liturgical music.

Very importantly, he is the only cardinal of the Catholic Church to have composed an opera – “Brunellesco.” Has that opera been performed? If not, what are the plans?
Tune in and you’ll be find out!

The late Cardinal Bartolucci at work:

Alessandro Biciocchi with Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, head of the Honor Committee of the Bartolucci Foundation:

The Foundation offices – almost a museum:

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