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Umeå Akademiska Kör

Early Vocal Music Map

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  • Research and text by Chris Whent at HOASM (Here on a Sunday Morning - WBAI 99.5 FM New York)
  • Composer Bibliography - links to Wikipedia and HOASM
  • Discography - lists of commercial musical recordings - links to HOASM
  • Vocal PDF-files (music scores) and MIDI-files - links to CPDL (Choral Public Domain Library)
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III. The Early Renaissance (1350-1500)

IIIa. The Florentine Group.

The end of the 13th century brought with it not only Dante Alighieri's poetry but also a golden age of music. Dante numbered among his friends many painters and musicians; unfortunately the works of these musicians have not been preserved, especially those of Dante's friend. Pietro Casellas. 1332 is the date of the earliest writings on the subject of Madrigals. However, Giovanni da Cascia , who today is considered the first musician of that school, was born in 1270, only a few years after Dante's birth. There followed Jacopo da Bologna , Ser Gherardello , Laurentius da Florentia and many others. Through them: Florence developed as a center of a new school of music which spread all through Central and Upper Italy.

The full list of trecento (it. 1300, but also 'renaissance') composers was apparently a long one. The text of Jacopo da Bologna's madrigal, Uselletto selvaggio, says that everybody is writing ballate, madrigals, and motets, that all are blossoming forth as "Filipotti et Marchetti" (the ironic metaphor referring to Philippe de Vitry and Marchettus of Padua ). Florence was the great center of this activity. But, as the names of the musicians show, contributions were made also by Bologna, Padua, Perugia, Rimini.

The period of Italian trecento music does not actually coincide with the span of the 14th century: it begins about 1325 and ends about 1425. Leonard Ellinwood has, on the basis of the chronological order apparently followed in arranging the contents of the Squarcialupi Codex --one of the chief MSS of the period--and on the basis of the type of notation devices employed by each composer, assigned a large number of the trecento composers to three different generations, thus:

The first generation: Giovanni da Cascia (= Giovanni da Firenze), Jacopo da Bologna , Bartolino da Padua , Grazioso da Padua , Vincenzo d'Arimini (= Rimini), Piero da Firenze .

The second generation: Francesco Landini (= Landino), Paolo tenorista da Firenze , Niccolo da Perugia , Ghirardello da Firenze , Donato da Firenze , Lorenzo da Firenze , Andrea da Firenze , Egidio, Guglielmo di Santo Spirito.

The third generation: Zacherie , a papal singer from 1420 to 1432, Matteo da Perugia , Giovanni da Genoa, Giovanni da Ciconia , Antonello da Caserta , Filippo da Caserta , Corrado da Pistoia, Bartolomeo da Bologna .

Little is known about the lives of most of these men. Giovanni da Cascia was, in the first half of the century, organist at Santa Maria del Fiore and closed his career at the court of Mastino II della Scala at Verona. It is his creative force and that of composers of his generation--Jacopo da Bologna, Piero, Lorenzo--that gave trecento music its native impetus. Jacopo was a theorist as well as composer. Some time before 1351 he became the teacher of Francesco Landini.

Landini was the most important of these composers, who was, even at that time, rated highest by his contemporaries. He was born in Florence about 1325 and was completely blinded early in his youth. His musical activities were to him an enormous source of joy and consolation. He fabulously mastered a number of instruments, especially the "organetto," a small portable hand organ, which was then a popular instrument for secular music.

The birth of the Renaissance with its leanings toward a more secular life, its joys and its sorrows, created an enormous stimulant to the imaginative fancies of Landini and his contemporaries. Their manner of expression gave the dance and love-song new characteristics. The secular pieces are written chiefly in three forms: the madrigal, ballata, and caccia.

The origin of the term madrigale has been traced with the help of a passage in an early 14th-century work by Francesco da Barbarino. He uses matricale (Latin for "belonging to the womb" or "matrix") in referring to a form of song. It is therefore held that madrigale originally denoted a poem in the mother tongue. Antonio da Tempo, writing in 1332, used independently the word mandrialis to designate a rustic kind of pastoral poem, popular at the time, this term being a fusion of the older term madriale (a dialectical use of madrigale) and mandria (Italian for "sheep-fold").' The form of the term as used in the MSS of trecento music undergoes considerable variation.

The "Caccia," as its name implies. originally dealt with hunting of other realistically animated scenes. In: most cases the canon is used to achieve the utmost in tonepainting effects. An excellent example of this style is Gherardello 's magnificent caccia "Tosto che I'alba" (the huntsman awakens early when the morning of a beautiful day dawns), with the imitation of exciting hunting calls and sounding of horns. The Ballata is actually a dance-song usually written for two voices with an instrumental counterpoint. Landini 's Ballata "Gram piant'agl'occhi" shows such fine melodic development that this piece was labeled "as perhaps the most beautiful one of that century".

This and many other compositions of Landini and his contemporaries have been preserved in the form of a magnificent vellum manuscript, now at the Bibliotheca Laurenziana in Florence; it is considered to be the most important and detailed source of this art. It is called the "Squarcialupi Codex" after its onetime owner, the famous organist Antonio Squarcialupi , who lived 100 years after Landini, at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent.


The Composers
Name and link to Whent┤s Bibliography Years Country # of PDF/Midi Discography MP3
Andrea da Firenze ?-1415 Italy . Discography .
Anthonius Clericus Apostolicus 14th century Italy . . .
Antonius de Civitate ?-after 1423 Italy . . .
Arrigo [Henricus] 14th century Italy . . .
Barbitonsoris 14th century Italy . . .
Bartholomeus de Bononia [Bartolomeo da Bologna] 15th century Italy . . .
Bartholus de Florentia [Bartolo] 14th century Italy . . .
Bartolino da Padova fl.1375-1405 Italy . Discography .
Bartolomeo Brolo (de Bruollis) fl.1430-1440 Italy . Discography .
Blasius fl.1399 Italy . . .
Bonaiuto Corsini fl.late 14th century Italy . . .
Bonaiutus de Casentino early 14th century Italy . . .
Johannes [Jean] Ciconia c.1335-1411 Flanders/France . . .
Donato da Firenze (da Cascia) fl.1370-1375 Italy . Discography .
Engardus [Egardus] (Johannes Ecghaerd) c1340-? Flanders/France . . .
Gherardello da Firenze ?-1364 Italy . . .
Giovanni da Firenze (da Cascia) fl. 14th century Umbria (Italy) . Discography .
Grazioso da Padova ?-c.1400 Italy . . .
Jacopo da Bologna fl.c.1340-1355 Italy . . .
Francesco Landini 1325/35-1397 Italy cpdl=3 Discography MP3
Lorenzo da Firenze ?-before 1385 Italy . Discography .
Marchetto da Padova [Marchettus de Padua] 1274?-? fl.1305-1326 Padua (Italy) . . .
Niccolò da Perugia (Ser Nicolaus, etc.) fl. c.1350-1400 Perugia (Italy) . . .
Paolo (Tenorista) da Firenze c.1390-c.1425 Italy . Discography .
Piero da Firenze (Maestro Piero) 14th century Italy . Discography .
Filippo da Caserta (Filipoctus, Philippot) fl.late 14th century Italy . . .
Vincenzo da Rimini 14th century Italy . . .
Antonio Squarcialupi 1416-1480 Italy . . .
Ugolino of Orvieto c.1380-c.1457 Italy . . .
Antonio Zacaria [Zacharia, Zacara] da Teramo fl.late 14th C early 15th C Teramo (Italy) . . .
Magister Zacharias fl.1400 Italy . . .
Nicolas Zacharie (Niccolo Zaccaria) fl.1320-1434 Brindisi (Italy) . . .

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