Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music at 100

PIMS was founded by Pope Pius X and opened in 1911. Pope Paul VI established the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae, whose secretariat is housed at the Institute. Paul VI also founded, in 1975, the School of Gregorian semiology. In 1983 Pope John Paul II gave the entire property of the abbey of San Girolamo in Urbe to the Institute, where it is still housed.

To celebrate the anniversary, next week PIMS is putting on a large-scale conference (see the schedule here) . As you see, I’ve been invited to make a presentation at a round table on the final day.

The schedule is rich in musicological offerings – many fascinating presentations zeroing in on one location (generally European, or a mission land importing European culture) in a particular era, such as the sequence in Tridentine codices of the 15th century, or the lauda in Renaissance Mantua, or music for Corpus Christi in Milan in the 18th century. This is all to the good, and I expect to learn a lot.

But part of me wishes there were a bit more explicitly on liturgical theology, the role of music in liturgy, the relationship between liturgy and culture and the implications for music, and the like. No matter how beautiful the masterpieces of the Western-European treasury of sacred music are, the really tough questions concern why to use this music, or even whether to use it. The challenges thrown up by the liturgical reform and by the nature of contemporary cultures are complicated and also quite fascinating.

The presenters on the schedule come from a variety of cultures, Western and non-Western. I’ll certainly have my eyes and ears open whenever questions arise about the Church’s (Western) musical heritage in diverse cultures.

The abbot of Solesmes is speaking. So is Cardinal Grochelewski, the Vatican’s head of Catholic education. An audience with the Holy Father is anticipated. Arvo Pärt is getting an honorary doctorate. The new Italian edition of the works of Palestrina is being premiered. I’m excited.



  1. Mystified as to why they give Msgr Higinio Angles’s dates as 1912-1922 when they are 1888-1969!

    I agree with awr’s comments on the content, but there is some interesting input there.

    Anthony, make sure you meet my friend Daniele Sabaino who is supposed to be speaking on the same day as you (though I hear he has not been well recently). His English is very good, and he is currently one of the presidents of Universa Laus.

    1. Paul, I had the same question and was pretty sure that the good msgr. lived longer than 10 years – but I believe they’re reporting on the education/formation he received during that decade.

      OK, will aim to meet up with Daniele Sabainosure, if I can get away from the pope and all the time he’ll want with me.


      1. I hear, Anthony, that Professor Rindfleisch himself will be in Rome during the time you’re there, and no doubt you will meet up with him at that little place on the Borgo Pio so favoured by “those who know” in the Curia. Make sure you ask for the table by the door in the back room – I believe the password for the waiter is something like “per Eminenza” . . .

  2. From what I’ve read Msg. Higinio Angles was a giant. And yet the English-speaking world is pretty much in the dark with regard to his musical and literary legacy. I would sure like to know more about him.

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