The musica secreta or concerto delle dame of Duke Alfonso II d'Este, an ensemble of virtuoso female musicians that performed behind closed doors at the castello in Ferrara, is well-known to music history. Their story is often told by focussing on the Duke's obsessive patronage and the exclusivity of their music. This book examines the music-making of four generations of princesses, noblewomen and nuns in Ferrara, as performers, creators, and patrons from a new perspective. It rethinks the relationships between polyphony and song, sacred and secular, performer and composer, patron and musician, court and convent. With new archival evidence and analysis of music, people, and events over the course of the century, from the role of the princess nun musician, Leonora d'Este, to the fate of the musica secreta's jealously guarded repertoire, this radical approach will appeal to musicians and scholars alike.
About the Author
Laurie Stras is Research Professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield, where she teaches and researches sixteenth-century music, popular music, and music and disability. She is co-director of the ensemble Musica Secreta, with whom she has made four acclaimed recordings, including Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter, winner of the 2016 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Musica secreta; 1. Ferrarese convents and the Este in the first half of the sixteenth century; 2. Courtly women and secular music in Ferrara in the first half of the sixteenth century; 3. Princesses and politics: the Este women and music in the 1550s; 4. Actresses and Ariosto: spectacle and song in the 1560s; 5. 'Un modo di cantare molto diverso': Ferrara and the new singing of the 1570s; 6. Margherita's arrival and the convents in the first half of the 1580s; 7. Musical practices of the 1580s concerto; 8. Ferrara's final chapter: court and convents in the 1590s; 9. Afterlife in Mantua.