Harmonia Early Music

A Musical Tour Of Ferrara

Explore music from the city of Ferrara, and hear “new music” from 17th c. Italy performed by the ensemble Quicksilver. Also, we pay tribute to Gustav Leonhardt.

Play Episode (Real Audio)
Palazzo dei Diamanti

Photo: Stefano costanzo (fotopedia)

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Italy. Commissioned by Count Sigismondo d’Este, brother of Duke Ercole I d'Este. Construction began in 1493.

Time capsule for this episode: 1486

Tribute

We begin with a tribute to Gustav Leonhardt, who passed away in January 2012.

Performer, teacher, and researcher Gustav Leonhardt first made his name in the world of early music as one of a growing number of musicians who insisted on historical accuracy when performing early music; he even lamented a live performance of Baroque opera lit with electric lights rather than oil lamps. He performed on a historical harpsichord and was influential in the ultimate resurrection of the instrument.  Although the list would soon expand to include keyboard works of other Baroque masters, Leonhardt’s earliest recordings were the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Tr. 1 – Aria (2:51) / Tr. 4 – Variation 3 (1:03) / Tr. 30 – Variation 29 (1:12)
Gustav Leonhardt — Bach: Goldberg Variations (Teldec, 2008)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

During his years as a teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory in his native Holland and the Vienna Academy of Music, Gustav Leonhardt taught some of today’s most influential performers of early music, including William Christie, Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock, Roger Norrington, Nicholas McGegan, and many others. The Leonhardt Consort also recorded some of Bach’s choral works including his complete cycle of cantatas, and his Saint Matthew Passion.

J. S. Bach: Disc 3, Tr. 16: Chorus: Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder (6:59)
Tölzer Knabenchor, La Petite Bande / Gustav Leonhardt — Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 1990)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Leonhardt continued performing as both a harpsichordist and organist until he announced his retirement in December 2011. He passed away in January 2012 at the age of 83.

15th c. Ferrara, an important European musical center

In the 15th century, the city of Ferrara, Italy became one of Europe’s most important musical centers.  Spurring the development of Ferrara’s musical activity was generous patronage from members of the house of Este.

Duke Ercole d’Este was one of the foremost cultural patrons of his age.  During his reign, the Ferrarese court cappella was comprised of a never-before-heard double choir: one for men, and one for boys.  The choir enjoyed the compositional talents of none other than Josquin des Prez, who composed a mass immortalizing Duke Ercole using a compositional technique known as soggetto cavato.  In the mass, the syllables of the duke’s name are represented musically; Hercules dux Ferrariae becomes re ut re ut re fa mi re.

Tr. 2 - Missa Hercules dux Ferrariæ: Kyrie (2'51”)
De Labyrintho / Walter Testolin — Josquin Desprez: Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariæ (Stradivarius)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Two other composers at work within Ferrara at that time were Jacob Obrecht and Antoine Brumel.  Obrecht also served Duke Ercole d’Este, demonstrating his compositional cleverness in numerous mass settings and motets.  After Obrecht’s death in 1505, Ercole’s successor Alfonso I called Antoine Brumel to take up the position of maestro di cappella.

Tr. 9 - Alleluia: Anna Mater (3'23”)
Capella De La Torre — Obrecht, J.: Missa, "Sub Tuum Praesidium" (Coviello, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Tr. 5 – Mater Patris (3'23”)
The Hilliard Ensemble — Hilliard Live, Vol. 3: Antoine Brumel (Coro, 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Music from 16th- and 17th-century Ferrara

Decades after the reign of Duke Ercole, the city celebrated another renaissance of art and culture.  Alfonso II enlivened his court with the presence of composers like Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Luzzaschi’s pupil Girolamo Frescobaldi, and Lodovico Agostini.

Also increasing the prestige of the court was a group of exceedingly talented female singers known as the concerto delle donne, for which many composers reserved their most experimental and virtuosic works.  Musical treasures abounded within the ducal library and instrumentarium; and fresh ideas brewed among the talented court musicians that would revolutionize compositions for the next century.

Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Lodovico Agostini : Tr. 12 – Aura soave (2'53”) / Tr. 18 – Contrapuncto primo (2'03”)
Doulce Mémoire Ensemble — Le Concert Secret des Dames de Ferrare (Zig Zag Territories, 2008)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

D.7, Tr. 8: VIII Toccata: Di Durezze, E Ligature (4'40”)
Sergio Vartolo — Frescobaldi: Complete Published Works for Keyboard (Tactus Records, 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Featured release

Our featured release takes us to 17th-century Italy and the birth of a new musical style.  Stile moderno is the title of the recording, as well as a term coined by Giulo Caccini in a 17th-centry collection of groundbreaking compositions entitled Le nuove musiche. The ensemble Quicksilver transports stile moderno to our present day, performing instrumental works full of  ideas from a new musical age by Cima, Merula, and Neri.

Tr. 4 - Sonata a tre (3'37”) / Tr. 5 - Ballo detto Pollicio (2'01”) / Tr. 12 - Sonata quinta à4 (6'12”)
Quicksilver — Stile Moderno: New Music from the Seventeenth Century (Acis Productions, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Tr. 1 – Aria (2:51) / Tr. 4 – Variation 3 (1:03) / Tr. 30 – Variation 29 (1:12)
Gustav Leonhardt — Bach: Goldberg Variations (Teldec, 2008)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
J. S. Bach: Disc 3, Tr. 16: Chorus: Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder (6:59)
Tölzer Knabenchor, La Petite Bande / Gustav Leonhardt — Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 1990)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 2 - Missa Hercules dux Ferrariæ: Kyrie (2'51”)
De Labyrintho / Walter Testolin — Josquin Desprez: Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariæ (Stradivarius)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 9 - Alleluia: Anna Mater (3'23”)
Capella De La Torre — Obrecht, J.: Missa, "Sub Tuum Praesidium" (Coviello, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 5 – Mater Patris (3'23”)
The Hilliard Ensemble — Hilliard Live, Vol. 3: Antoine Brumel (Coro, 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Lodovico Agostini : Tr. 12 – Aura soave (2'53”) / Tr. 18 – Contrapuncto primo (2'03”)
Doulce Mémoire Ensemble — Le Concert Secret des Dames de Ferrare (Zig Zag Territories, 2008)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
D.7, Tr. 8: VIII Toccata: Di Durezze, E Ligature (4'40”)
Sergio Vartolo — Frescobaldi: Complete Published Works for Keyboard (Tactus Records, 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 4 - Sonata a tre (3'37”) / Tr. 5 - Ballo detto Pollicio (2'01”) / Tr. 12 - Sonata quinta à4 (6'12”)
Quicksilver — Stile Moderno: New Music from the Seventeenth Century (Acis Productions, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Laura Osterlund

Laura Osterlund is a scriptwriter for Harmonia, recorder player, and student at McGill Univeristy in Montreal, Canada. In 2007, she moved from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois to Montreal in pursuit of a B.Mus. with major concentrations in Early Music Performance and Music History. Laura is an active musician throughout Montreal and Chicago and an avid memberof the movement to promote Early Music performance, pedagogy, research, and appreciation throughout North America.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Harmonia Early Music:

More Subscription Options

Follow Us

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Harmonia Early Music

About The Hosts

Search Harmonia Early Music

where to hear harmonia