10/2019: Performing Gaffurius from Librone 1 in the Duomo

The concert “Milan 1489: Music for the Wedding of Gian Galeazzo Sforza and Isabella of Aragon”, performed in Milan’s Duomo on October 29, was greeted with enthusiastic applause by the public. The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis musicians read most of the pieces directly from the first Gaffurius Codex, Librone 1, placed on a specially-built stand.
Both the Polifonia Sforzesca research team and the Veneranda Fabbrica staff were extremely proud of this exceptional accomplishment, the result of joint effort by scholars, musicians, archivists, and conservation experts. The pictures below (courtesy of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo) capture some of that memorable night’s magic.

10/2019: Publication of the Gaffurius Codices Research Portal

The Polifonia Sforzesca Research Team is glad to announce the publication of the Gaffurius Codices Research Portal (open access at https://www.gaffurius-codices.ch/). It contains the full digitization of Gaffurius’s four Libroni preserved in the Archive of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, as well as a comprehensive inventory and catalogue. The use of the state-of-the-art IIIF Mirador viewer facilitates, among other things, the comparison of the manuscripts with sources from other digital libraries. Future resources will include studies on the manuscripts and their repertory, and a digital edition of selected motet cycles.

10/2019: Presentation and concert at Milan’s Duomo

On October 29, an extraordinary event will take place at Milan’s Duomo. An ensemble from the Schola Cantorum, lead by Federico Sepúlveda, Ivo Haun, and Catherine Motuz, will perform music by Gaffurius and Josquin at the Duomo. For the first time after centuries, the newly restored Librone 1 (the first of Gaffurius’s choirbooks) will return from the archive to the cathedral, and the Schola singers and instrumentalists will read directly from it.

Before the concert, Agnese Pavanello and Daniele Filippi will present the Polifonia Sforzesca publications, including the books Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy and Codici per cantare, and the Gaffurius Codices research portal (https://www.gaffurius-codices.ch/, online from October 20). During the same pre-concert event, director Thomas Drescher and director of research Martin Kirnbauer will introduce the Schola to the Milanese public. The Duomo Archivist Maddalena Peschiera will illustrate the recent restoration of Librone 1. Finally, Federico Sepúlveda will comment on the musicians’ work with Gaffurius’s manuscript. The concert will be followed by a reception offered by the Swiss General Consulate in Milan.

Both events are part of the Month of Music 2019 at the Duomo, dedicated to “The Duomo at the Time of Leonardo: Gaffurio and Music as discordia concors” , for which Daniele Filippi served as artistic director.

If you happen to be in Milan, make sure to reserve a place from this page: https://www.duomomilano.it/en/article/2019/09/16/month-of-music-2019/191/

07/2019: Reopening Gaffurius’s Librone at the 47th MedRen

On July 5, the Polifonia Sforzesca Research Team presented a panel session at the 47th MedRen Conference hosted by the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, with papers by Martina Pantarotto, Daniele Filippi, Cristina Cassia, and Agnese Pavanello. The title of the session, chaired by Bonnie Blackburn, was “Reopening Gaffurius’s Libroni”. A subsequent presentation, chaired by David Fiala and featuring also Rolf Wissmann and Maddalena Peschiera (Archivist of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano), illustrated a preview of the forthcoming Gaffurius Codices Research Portal.

06/2019: New book published: Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy

Our new book Motet Cycles Between Devotion and Liturgy has been published by Schwabe Verlag.
Click here to view it on the publisher’s website.

This book explores the corpus of motet cycles composed and disseminated in manuscript and printed sources of polyphony ca. 1470–ca. 1510, including works by Loyset Compère, Gaspar van Weerbeke, and Franchinus Gaffurius. In doing so, it tackles some of the most essential and stimulating issues of late medieval and Renaissance music, clustering around the role of sacred polyphony in the interaction between devotion and liturgy. The different chapters, organized in four sections, cover topics ranging from the relationship between ritual and cycles to the “shape and sound of prayer texts”, revisit the problematic association between Milan, motetti missales and Josquin, and offer a series of case studies approached from an interdisciplinary perspective. By addressing issues of textual and musical design, function, and performance, the book illuminates this fascinating repertory and the rich devotional and cultural context in which it flourished.

Contributors: Clare Bokulich, Felix Diergarten, Eva Ferro, Daniele V. Filippi, Marco Gozzi, Andrew Kirkman, Robert Nosow, Agnese Pavanello, Joshua Rifkin, Francesco Rocco Rossi, Fañch Thoraval, Hana Vlhová-Wörner.

04/2019: New book published: Codici per cantare

Our new book Codici per cantare: I Libroni del Duomo nella Milano sforzesca has been published by Libreria Musicale Italiana. Click here to view it on the publisher’s website and get a free download of the introduction.

The Libroni (literally “big books”) prepared for the Duomo under chapel master Franchinus Gaffurius are among the most valuable cultural treasures from Renaissance Milan. The four large manuscripts contain a diverse repertory of sacred polyphony for Mass and Vespers, including works by Compère, Weerbeke, Josquin, Isaac, and Gaffurius himself. This was the music that resounded under the gothic arches of the cathedral, still under construction, in a momentous period of the city’s history. The years during which the Libroni were copied (c.1490–1507) saw the rise of Ludovico Sforza (“il Moro”), his dramatic fall, and the subsequent French domination over the duchy of Milan. The rule of the Sforza came thus to an end (apart from the short-lived restorations of the 1510s and 1520s), and the role of the city in European geopolitics changed irreversibly. Codici per cantare presents a set of studies dedicated to the Libroni and subdivided into two sections: the first has an interdisciplinary nature, with essays on the cultural, social, and ritual context, whereas the second contains musicological investigations on the repertory of the Libroni, from the motetti missales to liturgical compositions for the Office. A codicological analysis and a new annotated catalogue of the Libroni (edited by Cristina Cassia) complete a volume that aims to become a reference work for all interested in Gaffurius’s manuscripts.

Contributors: Bonnie J. Blackburn, Cristina Cassia, Daniele V. Filippi, Martina Pantarotto, Edoardo Rossetti, Francesco Rocco Rossi, Thomas Schmidt, Daniele Torelli, Norberto Valli, Massimo Zaggia.

01/2019: Outreach event at the Archive

On a bright January morning a class of 7th graders from the music programme of the Secondary School Quintino di Vona (Milan) visited the Archive of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo. Archivist Maddalena Peschiera and her collaborators, together with Daniele Filippi from the Polifonia Sforzesca Team, welcomed them and illustrated the treasuries of the Archive. Gaffurius’s Librone 1 and other gems from the musical section of the archive could not be missing among the showcased items! A tour of the cathedral’s monumental organ with organist Alessandro La Ciacera concluded this stimulating experience.


12/2018: A seminar on digital editions at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis

On December 6, 2018 the Polifonia Sforzesca research team engaged the community of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in a debate over digital editions of early music. We briefly presented our perspective and illustrated some case studies of existing editions, before opening a discussion with performers, teachers, scholars, and students, about such questions as:

  • Have you ever used a digital edition of music? If yes, how did you use it?
  • In an existing or imaginary digital edition, what features do you find most useful, or, on the contrary, useless?
  • How do you combine or balance the use of facsimiles and that of modern editions for purposes of study, analysis, performance?
  • Editions of vocal music often provide extensive critical notes about the sung texts, besides an historical introduction and the critical apparatus regarding both text and music: how often do you consult these different resources?
  • Ultimately, what do you wish from a new edition of the music you are interested in?

Both theoretical thoughts and practical examples from the participants’ daily life animated a vibrant and thought-provoking conversation.

Thanks to Martin Kirnbauer for hosting us in the series Donnerstags-Akademie, and to all the numerous participants for sharing their ideas with us.



FOTO: © Susanna Drescher 2016 www.susannadrescher.ch

2018.12.06._Donnerstags-Akademie_Polifonia sforzesca – Invitation