Keys to Heaven

Pietro Perugino painted The Delivery of the Keys on the Northern wall of the newly constructed Sistine Chapel in 1481 and 1482. When Franco-Flemish composer, Josquin DesPrez joined the papal choir in 1489, this painting would have been one of the main focal points in the Chapel. At that time, paintings on the North and South walls contrasted with a relatively unadorned ceiling, on which were depicted stars shining in a night sky. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina became Master of the Capella Giulia in 1551. He was no doubt inspired by Perugino’s fresco when he composed the Motet, Tu es Petrus (published 1572).

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven …

The Motet must have been popular at the time, as Palestrina later composed the Missa Tu es Petrus in which he quoted the original Tu es Petrus melodies in all the main movements. The quotes add to the contrapuntal playfulnes of the work and contribute to an overwhelming sense of joy throughout



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