Carlo Borromeo and Tomas Luis de Victoria: A gift, two letters and a recruiting campaign
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Tomás Luis de Victoria and Cardinal Carlo Borromeo probably never met in person. In 1583–4, however, they were in contact by letters (now preserved in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan) and through intermediaries. This article explores the circumstances of this meeting-at-a-distance between the two men, showing that it was rooted in a complex web of relationships, notably involving the Roman milieu of Filippo Neri’s Oratory. Contact began with Victoria sending music books in December 1583, part of his ongoing marketing campaign. It was maintained through Borromeo’s plenipotentiary in Rome, Cesare Speciano, and continued during 1584, when the cardinal sought a new organist for the Duomo and consulted Victoria as a trusted advisor. Borromeo died in November 1584. This case study sheds new light on Victoria’s publishing efforts of the 1580s and on his carefully planned schemes for distributing his music. At the same time, it provides new information about Borromeo’s interest in liturgical music and his strategies for the recruitment of musicians. More generally, it suggests that the figure of Borromeo, so extraordinarily prominent in the history of early modern Catholicism, needs to be analysed and interpreted by musicologists in new ways; his correspondence, the significance of which as a source for music history still has to be fully explored, will surely be valuable in this effort.