The Civic Muse: Music and Musicians in Siena during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

The Civic Muse: Music and Musicians in Siena during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

The Civic Muse: Music and Musicians in Siena during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

The Civic Muse: Music and Musicians in Siena during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Synopsis

Siena, blessed with neither the aristocratic nor the ecclesiastical patronage enjoyed by music in other northern Italian centers like Florence, nevertheless attracted first-rate composers and performers from all over Europe. As Frank A. D'Accone shows in this scrupulously documented study, policies developed by the town to favor the common good formed the basis of Siena's ambitious musical programs. Based on decades of research in the town's archives, D'Accone's The Civic Muse brilliantly illuminates both the sacred and the secular aspects of more than three centuries of music and music-making in Siena. After detailing the history of music and liturgy at Siena's famous cathedral and of civic music at the Palazzo Pubblico, D'Accone describes the crucial role that music played in the daily life of the town, from public festivities for foreign dignitaries to private musical instruction. Putting Siena squarely on the Renaissance musical map, D'Accone's monumental study will interest both musicologists and historians of the Italian Renaissance.

Excerpt

Research for this book was carried out over a number of years in Siena, Florence, and Los Angeles. I first became interested in Sienese musical history in 1970, when Edward E. Lowinsky invited me to read a paper at an international festival-conference honoring Josquin des Prez and suggested that I write about performance practices in Italian chapels during the composer's lifetime. While searching for pertinent materials I read Martin Staehelin's study about Pierre de la Rue in Italy and the composer's possible presence in Siena in the 1480s. I was intrigued because La Rue had not previously been documented in Italy and it occurred to me that Siena might have played a far greater role than was then known in the cultural exchange that characterized late fifteenth-century European music. But apart from a few isolated reports, mentioned below in the Introduction, there was little in musicological literature, or elsewhere for that matter, that hinted, as Staehelin's study did, at any significant musical activity in the city at that time. in spring 1970 it proved possible during a brief trip to Siena to gather information in cathedral archives that was later incorporated into my study presented at the Josquin Festival-Conference. As valuable as the information was, I was painfully aware that I had only skimmed the surface of available documentation. I use the word "available" advisedly because at the time, owing to a lack of personnel and a proper reading area, access to cathedral archives was sporadic and limited. But in the next decade it was possible, during brief trips to Italy, to conduct a systematic examination of many fifteenth- and sixteenth-century documents. By 1980 I had gathered enough material to begin writing a book about music at Siena cathedral during the Renaissance.

The project was well along when, as a result of a generous grant from the Guggenheim Foundation during the 1980-81 academic year, I had an unbroken stretch of time in Siena and uncovered additional materials in cathedral archives and in the city's Biblioteca Comunale degli Intronati. At the same time I became aware of the wealth of documentation, most of it unpublished, concerning musicians and musical performance at Siena's Palazzo Pubblico and other places that was kept in the Sienese State Archives. My initial interest in these materials was kindled by my old friend and mentor Gino Corti of Florence, who was himself engaged on a research project in Siena at the time. Thanks to him I was able to gain daily access to cathedral archives, and it was then that I became aware of new avenues of research that still awaited exploration and of the rich materials they demonstrably contained. the result was that I changed the scope of my project to encompass what I now present in this book. Gino Corti, however, did far more than induce me to gain a broader perspective of Sienese music in earlier times and of musical developments elsewhere in the city. Without his help I

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