Fifteenth-century Italy witnessed the marked expansion of the patron's role in the composition and performance of music. Despite the concern and resources that Renaissance princes and ecclesiastics devoted to their musical institutions, however, instances of actual collaboration between patrons and composers are quite rare. This essay considers just such an instance, Matteo da Perugia's Ave sancta mundi / Agnus Dei. A careful examination of this early 15th-century Eucharistic motet reveals that the composer's patron, the cardinal and friar Peter of Candia, likely played a crucial role in selecting the motet text, and was very possibly its author. Read within the context of the enduring and influential works of St. Bonaventure and other Franciscan luminaries, Ave sancta mundi appears to be not simply a general statement of Eucharistic theology, but rather an articulation of Franciscan piety. The most likely impetus for such an articulation was Peter's election to the papacy in 1409 at the Council of Pisa. As heard at the council, not only would the motet have alluded to Peter's status as a prominent member of the Friars Minor, it would have functioned as a forceful plea for ecclesiastical unity in the face of the Great Schism. Matteo's setting employs several musical strategies, including genre blending and chromaticism, which inflect Peter's text in such a way as to amplify these associations. Through a variety of literary allusions and musical processes, then, patron and composer joined in the creative process, fashioning a work that spoke to Peter's deeply held Franciscan beliefs and the aspirations of his fledgling papacy.
- Copyright ©© 2003 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.