Vinyl records are currently the physical music format of choice: In 2020, they outsold CDs for the first time since the ’80s. However, when you narrow the scope down to just recent physical music acquisitions by Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, CDs are in first place: The Telegraph reports that last week, Francis made “a rare private foray” to visit Stereosound, a record store in Rome, and while there, he was gifted a mystery CD.
Tiziana Esposito, one of Stereosound’s owners, told The Telegraph, “He was here for maybe 20 minutes, just time for us to have a chat. It was an honor, very emotional. He is a great person, a simple man but marvelous. He used to come here before he became pope, when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires and visiting Rome. This time we gave him a present, a CD, but I’m not telling anyone what it was.”
Letizia Giostra, another of the store’s owners, also told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (as Catholic News Service notes), “The Holy Father is passionate about music and was already our client, years ago, when he was still a cardinal and would pass through Rome. Then, of course, we never saw him again. And now he came to visit us, to say hello.”
Aside from the CD, Francis was also seen holding a vinyl record as he left the store, of which Giostra said, “It’s a gift we gave him, a record of classical music.”
In a 2016 interview, Francis noted he missed being able to do everyday things like go out and get some pizza, saying, “I could order it, but it is not the same. It’s nice to go there.” In a 2013 interview with America Magazine, Francis noted of his favorite composers, “Among musicians, I love Mozart, of course. The ‘Et incarnatus est’ from his Mass in C minor is matchless; it lifts you to God! I love Mozart performed by Clara Haskil. Mozart fulfills me. But I cannot think about his music; I have to listen to it. I like listening to Beethoven, but in a Promethean way, and the most Promethean interpreter for me is Furtwängler. And then Bach’s Passions. The piece by Bach that I love so much is the ‘Erbarme Dich,’ the tears of Peter in the ‘St. Matthew Passion.’ Sublime. Then, at a different level, not intimate in the same way, I love Wagner. I like to listen to him, but not all the time. The performance of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ by Furtwängler at La Scala in Milan in 1950 is for me the best. But also the ‘Parsifal’ by Knappertsbusch in 1962.”