Workshop 2011

Workshop 2011:

Matteo Ricci in Memoriam (1611-2011)

Main Themes

  • Matteo Ricci’s Demise as Narrated in his First Chinese Biography (1630)
  • The Music of Matteo Ricci’s Funeral: History, Context, and Meaning
  • Four Hundred Years History of the Zhalan Cemetery: The Resting Place of Matteo Ricci
  • Preaching the Afterlife to the Chinese: From Matteo Ricci’s Chinese Writings

Date:

  • 10 November, 2011

Location:

  • Auditorium, Team Building, Institute for Tourism Studies, Macau

Languages:

  • English

Introduction

The funeral mass for Matteo Ricci was celebrated at the Zhalan compound on All Saint’s Day (1 November) 1611, more than a year after his death in 1610. This event was utilized by the Jesuit missionary community in Beijing to open the renovated buildings at the Zhalan site, then outside the city walls and beyond the Fucheng Gate (阜城門), and to consecrate the Chapel in the center of the complex. According to those who were present, this requiem mass was accompanied “by organ and other musical instruments” in “the highest possible style.” Four hundred years later, we seek to interpret what we know of this event, and have organized a workshop, and an interpretive performance which presents something close to what might have happened at the time musically, if not liturgically. The Requiem mass of the Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) forms the musical center, and has been called “one of the greatest masterpieces of the entire Renaissance period.” It is appropriate to use this in this celebration of Ricci’s life, as Victoria was a student in Rome only very slightly earlier than Ricci: they probably even met. Other choral works by composers in Ricci’s orbit, such as Palestrina and Guerrero, and organ pieces by Iberian composers of the day, fill out the performance. Each work will be introduced with comments relative to its musical and historical context; and preceded by a brief lecture on the instruments which were utilized (and in some cases, such as the organ, actually built by) the Jesuits in Beijing in the first decade of the 17th Century.

Organising Institutions

  • MACAU RICCI INSTITUTE
  • Die Konzertisten

Sponsors

  • Diocese de Macau
  • Banco Nacional Ultramarino
  • San You Development Company Limited
  • Companhia de Electricidade de Macau S.A.
  • Banco Delta Ásia S.A.R.L.
  • CESL Asia - Investments & Services, Limited

Gianni Criveller

Matteo Ricci’s Demise as Narrated in his First Chinese Biography (1630)

In 1630, Jesuit China missionary Giulio Aleni wrote The Life of Master Ricci, Xitai of the Great West, 大西西泰利先生行蹟. The founder of modern Chinese Catholicism had died twenty years earlier in Beijing on May 11, 1610. Collecting information from Chinese and European eyewitnesses, Aleni offered an informative account of the life of Ricci seen from a Chinese perspective; Aleni names up to 55 officials and literati who interacted with Ricci. The Life of Master Ricci is especially impressive for the moving account of Matteo’s death: his prediction of it; his short illness; the distress of his disciples; his holy preparation for his last day. Aleni’s narrative is the only source of some precious information about the aftermath of Matteo’s death: the purchasing of the coffin; the painting of his portrait; the petition to the Emperor to obtain a piece of land for his burial; the famous dialogue between a eunuch and the Great Secretary Ye Xianggao 葉向高 about the privilege of Ricci’s burial in Beijing; the discovery of Matteo’s spiritual diary and other original details.

David Francis Urrows

The Music of Matteo Ricci’s Funeral: History, Context, and Meaning

The funeral for Matteo Ricci was celebrated at the Zhalan compound on All Saint’s Day (November 1, 1611). This event was utilized by the Jesuits in Beijing to dedicate the renovated buildings at the Zhalan site. Of the three commemorations/liturgies appropriate for that particular day – the consecration of the Chapel, the Feast of All Saint’s, and Ricci’s funeral – it is only about the service for Ricci that any specific information at all has come down to us. According to those who were present, this mass was accompanied “by organ and other musical instruments” in “the highest possible style.”

These comments tell us something about both the music and what it meant to Jesuits in 1611. We do not know exactly what music was performed, or even what European music they had in their library, but such an event would have called for certain obvious repertory. At the very least, there would have been the mass sung in plainsong, in the form including the Libera me, as well as appropriate hymns and perhaps a motet. To ask an even more speculative question, how were these performed? How “high” did the style run in Beijing in 1611? The priests in the China mission had all received training in chant as well as polyphony as part of their education. Could they have sung a polyphonic mass and other music? What were the “instruments”, and what were they doing there? How many musical traditions (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) might have played a role? The presence of an organ is itself remarkable, and also leads to the question, where did it come from?

These are intriguing questions which surround the funeral of Matteo Ricci. In this presentation, I will try to provide possible answers which lie in the larger context of music in the missions of Asia in the early seventeenth century.

Yu Sanle

Four Hundred Years History of the Zhalan Cemetery: The Resting Place of Matteo Ricci

This article traces four centuries history of Tenggong Zhalan. It is a lively witness to the modern history of China, from the first contact between China and Europe since the end of the Mongol Empire, through the hard times between the Boxer Rebellion (1900-1901) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), to the time of a more objective evaluation and celebration of the missionaries’ achievements, along with mutual respect between China and the West. We should remember the advocates who asked Emperor Wanli for granting this plot of land outside the walled city of Beijing, as an approval for the virtue and knowledge of Matteo Ricci. We should also remember the modern scholars, in particular Prof. Wu Menglin, an expert in cultural relics, who was responsible for the restoration of the resting place of the early Catholic missionaries in China, both Chinese and European, with Adam Schall von Bell and Ferdinand Verbiest among them.

Liu Jingjing

Preaching the Afterlife to the Chinese: From Matteo Ricci’s Chinese Writings

Some moral themes connected to the passing of time, the brevity of life , the preparation for death and the fate of humans in the afterlife was carefully chosen by the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci ( 1552 – 1610) for discussion with his literati friends. Ricci’s emphasis on these topics can be clearly seen in all his books, especially Jiren shipian, which is a collection of his conversations with contemporary men. These topics were well received by the literati and became widespread in the country. This reflects the literati’s interest for, and surprise at, Christian moral life. In particular, Ricci’s books represented a purposeful effort to highlight themes related to personal salvation.