|Last Date||01 05 2009|
If one were to say that the end of the 15th century also marks the beginning of the period of Western tonality, a period that reigns supreme until today, one would not be far from the truth. If one were to say that the end of the 15th century also marks the end of centuries of French musical domination over Europe, few would disagree. If, on the other hand, one were to say that the entire 15th century, a century in which French composers were being 'devoured' by the greatest Italian courts, papal or otherwise, was a century in which Italian tonality, harmony, melody, rhythm and formal structures could already be found in the music of the oltramontani, one could be forgiven for saying: 'Prove it!'
That is the object of Project Week IV: to show to what extent such ultra-Italian institutions as the lauda and the Ambrosian hymn, as well as characteristics such as the long-short cadence of the Italian language, the diatonic melody, parallel thirds, the duet for two upper voices, the triad, the repetition of textual and melodic phrases, the use of sequences and finally a rich and 'full-bodied' vocal color which imitated that of spoken Italian gradually became absorbed into the vocabulary of Northern composers who would have developed very differently had they not been so warmly welcomed into Italy in the 15th century.
Of these composers, the Frenchmen Josquin des Prez (†1521) and Loyset Compère (†1518), and the Flemings Johannes Martini (†1497/8) and Gaspar van Weerbeke (†1518?) come immediately to mind because they all sang in (and composed for) the Milanese chapel of the Sforzas. Martini and Compère was there together in the middle of the 1470s, Gaspar during most of the '70s and part of the '80's, Josquin at least in 1484. Beginning in 1484 the Italian composer and theorist Franchino Gaffurio (†1522) became maestro di cappella at the cathedral, in which capacity he was in charge of both the (Ambrosian) chant and the polyphony. He knew both Weerbeke and Josquin (and even Leonardo da Vinci). He studied music and theory with one Fleming-in-Italy, Godendach, and was much influenced by a second, Tinctoris, while they both were in Naples.
The practical musical goal of this Project Week will be to construct a convincingcycle of motets (often referred to as motetti missales) designed to replace various sections of the mass, interspersed with, in this case, the Gregorian chant preferred in the Francophilic Sforza court. All of the above-mentioned composers wrote motets which could replace or augment the normal mass sections at both the Sforza court and the cathedral. During this Milanese Week it is hoped that by combining individual motets from each of these composers a clear and at least somewhat homogeneous picture may emerge of a unique moment in the fusion of Italian 'popular' musical traits with the far more 'learned' ones of the long established and highly respected Franco-Flemish polyphonic schools. In this light it is interesting to note that by the middle of the 16th century Italian-oriented compositional thinking had gained such an upper hand that the prevalent impression of this same 'Northern' polyphony was that it was largely unintelligible and therefore no longer really relevant.
Teachers: Rebecca Stewart and Martin Erhardt.