ROME — Pope Francis’ music library contains nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, according to the Vatican cardinal who manages the collection.
Although it is mainly composed of classical music, it also includes: an old album of Édith Piaf’s greatest hits; Argentine tango tunes, notably by Astor Piazzolla; and a 25-disc collection of gospel songs by Elvis Presley, said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera On January 13, Ravasi said he was not at all surprised when he saw images of Pope Francis emerging from a Rome music store with an album under his arm on January 11.
“Actually, I can’t wait to find out what it is. I hope he will send it to me soon,” the cardinal said.
Ravasi said he started receiving and keeping the pope’s music collection more than three years ago. It started when the pope sent him some CDs, saying he knew how much the cardinal also loved music.
“I replied that I would like to know what music he likes and that’s how it started,” with the pope regularly sending him music, the cardinal said. “I told him I was thinking of creating a music library, and at one point he sent me an entire box of records (saying), ‘I’ve already listened to them.'”
Today, the culture office has cataloged and maintains a detailed record of 1,728 CDs and 19 pope record albums.
While some of the recordings are part of the pope’s personal collection, many of them are gifts the pope has received over the years, Ravasi said. They cover a wide variety of genres, which is typical of a true music lover, he added.
The cardinal said the pope told him his love of music came from listening to an opera program on the radio with his mother as a child.
“He sent me the complete collection of recordings at the Teatro Colón (main opera house) in Buenos Aires,” he said.
What stands out, he said, is that often what the pope sends is accompanied by handwritten notes with “extraordinary and expert” commentary on the piece. “You can see he is listening intently to the music.”
Ravasi said he had compiled all the comments and would like to publish them one day and see if the papal music library, housed in the council office, could be opened to experts since the collection “is indicative of his personality and of his culture”.