Madrigale Fatima MMXV


A statue of the Holy Mary of Fatima is carried during a procession at the Catholic Fatima shrine in central Portugal, in May 1951. Thousands of pilgrims converged on Fatima every year to celebrate the "first apparition" of the Virgin Mary in 1917. The Virgin Mary, or the "Virgin of the Rosary", Our Lady of Fatima, was said to have appeared to three Portuguese shepherd children Lucia Dos Santos, Jacinta and Francisco Marto in 1917 and given them three messages - one about the end of WW I, one other about Russia and a third "secret" that the Vatican never revealed.
Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fatima, May 1951.

MADRIGALE FATIMA MMXV is Latin for “The Fatima Madrigal 2015” for flute, oboe, clarinet, tenor voice, piano, violin and cello, a nod to the centenary of the Fatima prophecy in 2017. Lyrics are taken from Canticum Canticorum, the Song of Songs, VI:9,8 –

Quæ est ista quæ progreditur quasi aurora consurgens pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol, terribilis ut acies ordinata. Una est columba mea perfecta mea una est matris suæ electa – Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array? One is my dove, my perfect one she is the only one of her mother, the favorite.

The lyrics invoke the Virgin Mary in the perfection she represents and the uniqueness of her position above all other women.

Historically, the Madrigal is the most ancient composition type of the Ars Nova during the Trecento and the first polyphonic example of a profane text in vernacular language. It was composed for the first time by Francesco da Barberino around 1313. From an etymological point of view, the “madrigal” comes from cantus matricalis (song in the mother tongue). The oldest known Madrigal was composed by an anonymous composer from the Codex Vaticano Rossi 215 around the same time as Barberino.

Later, the Madrigal became a four-voice “frottola”, a complex “ballata” about love and satire which Petrarch ennobled. It is from this idea that comes the form of the Fatima Madrigal MMXV. The sacred lyrics are freely treated as a love song to a mystical woman who is almost unapproachable, yet caring and tender.

There are no harmonic progressions per se, but a jazzy Schifrin-type harmony approach whose colors serve to propel eleven rhythmic figures within the octave’s relative unity, resulting in two expressive bursts (bars 79-89 and 113-119) and leading to a false coda-type conclusion (bars 119-143).

The work goes from an outpouring of human feelings to a contemplative observation on the perfection of Our Lady.

Most Distinguished Musician – 2016 IBLA Foundation Grand Prize Competition, New York, for Madrigale Fatima MMXV, August 2016.

Finalist – International Composition Competition “Maurice Ravel” 2015-16 Second Edition, Novare (Italia), “Category B”: Chamber Music, April 2016.



All material © 1996-2017  Francis P Ubertelli.