This year marks the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio, 1483–1520), the painter who left us a vast legacy of inestimable beauty and grace.
This outstanding artist died, “having sunk under continuous acute fever which carried him off in eight days” — as Alfonso Paolucci sadly writes in Rome to Alfonso I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara (G. Campori, Notizie inedite di Raffaello da Urbino, Modena 1863, p. 30) — at only 37 years old on April 6, 1520, in Rome, in the sumptuous residence a few steps from the Vatican that he had bought from the Caprini of Viterbo on October 7, 1517, and in which he lived during the last years of his life. In the present day, after the building upheavals done to the Borgo district between 1937 and 1941, is the building called the Palace of the Convertendi, located on the Via della Conciliazione 34, built on a design by Donato Bramante a decade earlier in the old Piazza S. Giacomo, also called Scossacavalli. For a hundred years also the words of the art historian Corrado Ricci, carved on a memorial tablet in the entrance hall of the palace, have handed down the memory: “Here Was the House / Built by Bramante for the Caprini / Raphael Sanzio / Having Bought It in 1517 / Here Died on April 6, 1520 / The Circle of the Marches Set This Up.”
While the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office dedicated to Raphael a two-euro commemorative bimetallic coin and a stamp, we offer a musical commemoration of the great painter from Urbino by talking about the Hymn to Raphael the Divine, for mixed chorus (unaccompanied), music by Marco Enrico Bossi on verses by Fausto Salvatori, English version by Ernest H. Wilkins (J. Church, New York 1921), composed in March 1920 for the fourth centenary of Raphael Sanzio’s death and given on April 7 of the same year in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs, the ancient Pantheon. No audio recording seems available, therefore we’ll have to make do with talking about it, supported by the complete score and relevant historical notes.