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Christmas in the Cathedral

The well-deserved rest of an elderly singer after forty years of service during the Holy Night

AS414 F240 N73 A 1771 08 12 1771 08 25
4 December Dec 2019 1710 04 December 2019

The history of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, like the Cathedral itself, is made up of a number of elements both large and small - events that echo far and wide and events that are largely unknown - which the Archive keeps safe in one single body and hands down for posterity, thanks also to the extraordinary chronological continuity that makes it so valuable and interesting.

The document we present this month is part of the Cappella Musicale [Cathedral Choir] section of the Archive, i.e. the part containing all the documents recording the administration of this important institution established by the Fabbrica in 1402 to provide a fitting musical accompaniment to the beauty of this great architectural work.

Numerous documents in the Cappella Musicale section refer to the appointment, entry examinations and activities of the singers, for each of whom a personal dossier was kept and has been preserved. In 1727 Giovanni Antonio Grandati was taken on as a musico alunno, one of the many singers that passed through the ranks of the Cappella. From this initial appointment, Grandati sang in the Cappella Musicale for forty-six years.

Towards the end of this long career, in 1771, the singer, who was now elderly, wrote a heartfelt plea to the Chapter: «The humble servant of your most illustrious and very reverend Lordships, Gianantonio Grandati, has had the honour of rendering his services to this great Metropolitan Cathedral as a soprano for over forty-three years […]. The supplicant is desirous of being relieved of some of the masses celebrated in the Metropolitan Cathedral, namely the Christmas Eve Mass and all the others usually celebrated outside the Cathedral, said masses being too burdensome at such an advanced age [….] humbly implore and hope for grace […] for exemption from the aforementioned masses» (HA, folder 414, dossier 240).
The Choirmaster, with the authorisation of the Chapter, granted this request and the elderly singer was able to spend Christmas Eve 1771 with his family, a well-earned rest after years of faithful service to the Duomo and the city of Milan.