Francesco Landini and the Italian Ars Nova
Francesco Landini (c.1325-1397) was the most widely praised composer of the Italian Ars Nova, and a leading representative of the Florentine style which came to dominate subsequent appraisal of the art and music of the Trecento. Landini's life and interests reflect the early humanist movement, and indeed some accounts of the Renaissance place the origin of that phenomenon in his time a,d place, with the school of the painter Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337). Landini's own father, Jacopo del Casentino (c.1310-1349), was a painter of the school of Giotto, and Francesco himself contributed poetry in the style of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. Landini's humanist orientation manifested itself in his writings on ethics and William of Ockham's new logic, as well as in his multifaceted work in music. Blind since childhood, Landini was not only a leading composer, but a prominent organist and designer & tuner of instruments. Landini evidently mastered instruments other than the organ, and has been portrayed as an integral member of Florentine society, adept at the erudite philosophical and political discussions which marked this increasingly self-aware age.
The nature of the surname attributed to Landini (sometimes Landino) is a matter of some debate, as he is named only as Francesco in musical sources. His place of birth may have been Fiesole, and it seems he may have spent some time in Venice before 1370. In any case, the center of Italian music in the Ars Nova style moved from Venice to Florence during the period, a period during which Landini was the most prominent of an accomplished group of composers. He can be connected directly to both Lorenzo da Firenze (d.1372/3) and Andreas de Florentia (d.c.1415), and his works appear in sources which also feature the music of those and other Trecento composers. It is believed that Landini may have held the post of organist at San Lorenzo as long as from 1365 until his death, and he was certainly buried there. One concrete reference to his activity occured in 1387, when he was called upon to plan the new organ for Florence Cathedral.
Perhaps in keeping with his humanist orientation, Landini's surviving music is entirely secular. Landini may have written motets, but none are securely attributed, and at most one survives intact. Aside from these works and one French virelai, his surviving music is entirely in Italian, and almost entirely in the ballata form he apparently pioneered. Fully 154 songs are securely attributed to Landini (140 ballate!), approximately two thirds of which are in two parts with the remainder in three. Some texts are almost certainly by Landini, and while some are known to be by others, most of the texts he set may have been his own. Landini is the best-represented composer in the Squarcialupi Codex, the most important single source for Trecento secular polyphony, while the unnamed manuscript Florence Biblioteca nazionale 26 was apparently compiled at least partially under his direction. Landini wrote about one quarter of the surviving Italian Ars Nova secular music.
Landini's music is known for its progressive tonal layout and clearly defined parts. There is often a logical formal design to Landini's settings, and one characteristic cadence of the period has been named for him. Although it did not remain in fashion for long, Landini's music was used as a model by Italian Ars Subtilior composers, who sometimes added new parts. It did not survive the Franco-Flemish Renaissance; the use of the madrigal form by Landini and other composers of his era is not connected to the flowering of that genre in the 16th century. Since they were rediscovered in modern times, however, several of Landini's songs (especially the two-part ballata Ecco la primavera) have remained popular. Landini's clear melodic vision and expressivity serve to assure his music's place in the Ars Nova repertory. However, as one can easily observe by perusing the following discography, the majority of his works have yet to be recorded.
Landini and his contemporaries: Non so qual i' mi voglia
Non so qual i' mi voglia,
O viver o morir, per morir doglia. [Ripresa]
Morir vorre', ché 'l viver m'è gravoso,
Veggendo me per altri esser lasciato. [Piede 1]
E moror non vorre', chè trapassato,
Più non vedre' il bel viso amoroso. [Piede 2]
Per cui piango, invidioso
Di chi l'ha fatto suo e me ne spoglia. [Volta]
I know not what I desire most
I know not what I desire most,
to live, or to die in order to suffer less.
I should like to die, for life weights upon me,
now that I am abandoned for another.
But I should like to die, for after my death
I could no longer see the fair beloved face.
That is why I weep, envying
the man who conquered her and robbed me of her.
Last edited by micrologus; 01-04-09 at 12:14 PM.
Landini and his contemporaries: Dal bel castel
Dal bel castel (Codex Rossi) ( Anonymus )
Dal bel castel se parte de Peschiera
Cercando ‘l suo priore, un frate sol...
In compagnia d’amore.
Trovato l’ à dove ‘l Po fa riviera;
In su l’ isola apaga la vista...
Che de tal priore è vaga.
Pregal che senza lui piu non camina. [Ritornello]
From a fine palace
From a fine palace in Peschiera
a friar sets off alone, seeking his prior
with love for company.
On finding him there where the Po flows into the sea
he contemplates the island
which loningly detains his prior.
Beg him that I should walk no more without his company.
Last edited by micrologus; 01-04-09 at 12:15 PM.
Landini and his contemporaries: Or qua compagni
Or qua compagni, qua, cum gran piacere
Chiamat’ i can qua tosto!
Boca negra, toi toi!
Bianco pelo, sta, qui sta,
Ch’ una camoza a mi me par vedere!
Di’, d’ unde va?
De qua, de qua!
Per qual via va?
Per quel bosciao, guata, guata, ascosa.
Molton, molton! Chi se’, chi se’?
I’ son il guardapasso.
Che voi, che voi? Va de qua!
Non vidi che son molte? Piglia l’ una!
Quella de drieto bianca,
Perch’ io la vego stanca.
Nui tuti la seguimo cum effeto,
Cridando l’un a l’altro:
Pija, pija! Sai, sai!
Curi forte là, via là!
Chè ‘n ver la tana va quasi a deletto!
Non po fugir,
Non po, non po,
Chè ‘l can la tien;
Nè mover non si sa perch’ è smarita.
Zafon, zafon, Se avili!
Ve’ li cum se rebufa!
Va’ là, s’tui voi, za fala!
I’ temo che non morda perch’è fera!
Non fa, no!
Cosi fo li distesa,
Per questo modo presa.
Come hither, companions
Come hither, companions, shun not so great a pleasure!
Call your dogs immediately!
Black Face, come on, come on!
White Coat, stay here, stay here I say,
I think I can see a chamois.
I say, where’s she going?
This way, this way!
What track is she taking?
Sniff her out, she’s hiding in this thicket.
Molossus, Molossus, who are you?
I’m the beater.
What do you want? Go over there!
Don’t you see that there are a lot of them? Catch one!
Which one do you want?
The one that’s got white on her rear,
I can see she’s tired.
We all follow close behind
shouting to each other;
Catch her, catch her, come on, come on!
Run fast over there, fast I say!
She’s going to her lair, almost untroubled!
She can’t get away,
She can’t, she can’t,
For the dog has got her.
She can’t move, she’s lost.
You’re an mongrelt if you let her go.
See how she struggles!
Go on if you want, bite away!
I fear he’s not biting because she’s wild.
It doesn’t matter, go on,
now she’s been taken
and thrown to the ground.
Landini and his contemporaries: Aquila altera
Aquila altera, ferme in su la vetta
Dell’alta mente l’occhio valoroso,
Dove tua vita prene suo riposo.
Là è ‘l parere, là l’esser beato. [Ritornello]
Creatura gentile, animal degno,
Salire in alto e rimirare ‘l sole
Singularmente tuo natura vuole.
Là è imagine e la perfectione. [Ritornello]
Uccel di Dio, insegna di giustizia,
Tu ai principalmente chiara gloria
Perchè nelle grand’ opre tù ai victoria.
Là vidi l’ombra, là, la vera essença. [Ritornello]
Haughly eagle, fix the benevolent gaze
of your lofty intelligence upon these summits
where your life finds its repose.
Down there, mere appearance, up there bliss.
Noble creature, valiant animal,
your own special nature drives you
to rise high enough to stare into the sun.
Down there, the semblance, up there perfection.
Bird of God, emblem of justice
you inherit a most brilliant glory,
for you emerge victor from great combats.
Down here, the shadow, up there the essence.
Landini and his contemporaries:
Alas, grant me your love
Last edited by micrologus; 03-04-09 at 12:20 AM.
Landini and his contemporaries: Belicha
The Capitulum de vocibus applicatis verbis states that ‘they are called ballata because they are danced’ and Antonio da Tempo specifies that ‘ballate are sung and danced’. However, all music for thirteenth-century ballate has been lost, and there are only a very few surviving examples of ballate set for one voice by anonymus musicians who worked in Northern Italy in the first half of the fourteenth century. The few ballate by the first Florentine musicians such as Lorenzo and Ghererdello are also monodic. Landini was the first to write 2 or 3 voice settings of ballata, and from then on, during the second half of the century, the ballata became the basic genre used for mensural polyphonic settings of texts in the vernacular.
Landini and his contemporaries: Lasso! Di Donna
Lasso! di donna
Lasso ! di donna vana inamorato
Son che pur pi lusingha con inghanno,
Dammi sperança non mi togli affanno.
Perch’ è fallace ‘l suo ben disiato. [Ripresa]
I’ mi doglo che tanto su’ amor fello
Seguito già che mutat ‘el capello,
Mi vegio facto per biancheça vile. [Piede 1]
Miacer non è che mai potessi averlo
Ma le promesse dolci e ‘l volto bello
A lei sança ragion mi fanno humile. [Piede 2]
Bench’io conoscha ‘l suo malvagio stile
Ancor la mente stolta non si saçia
Fammi si incontro, non prendo la gratia.
Altra che ‘l vero amante fa beato. [Volta]
Alas ! I am in love
Alas! I am in love with a false woman
Who flatters me with her cedeits,
Spurring my hopes but quenching not my torment
For her desires are but a semblance.
I’m so in despair o’er porgonging this blighted love
That long ago my hair turned white,
And appearing such am much humiliated.
Never shall I be able to conquer her,
But her sweet promises and fair face
Hold me in obedience ‘gainst all reason.
Although I know her heart to be evil,
My stupid spirit grows not tired.
She comes towards me, yet yields me nothing.
‘Tis another than I that she renders happy.
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