Zacara e Ciconia – a Roma

CategoryProject Weeks
Last Date 27 02 2009

Antonio Zacara da Teramo (c. 1350 in Teramo? – before 1416 in Bologna?) – 'optimo perito et famoso camtore, scriptore et miniatore' – was a theoretician, papal secretary and papal singer for three popes and one antipope. In 1463, long after his death, the canons of Teramo were still commenting on his bizarrely ambitious compositional techniques: 'Eius inventa pro oraculis habentur' ('his compositions are considered to be oracles'). A writer of songs and masses (no actual motets survive) whose obvious intent was to break the accepted conventions of the day, Zacara was at home with the hocket, the Ars Subtilior style, lengthy imitative passages, mensural shifts and 'aberrational' dissonant treatment, abnormally long compositions and unconventional pairings of Glorias with Credos. On top of this he was a model for his somewhat younger, but equally experimental northern emulator, Johannes Ciconia.

Johannes Ciconia (c. 1370 in Liège – 10 June 1412 in Padua): singer and theoretician; clericus capelle in the chapel of Cardinal d'Alençon, in whose retinue he traveled from Liège to Rome, where he most likely studied with and became the colleague of Zacara during the 1390's; in the late 1390's Ciconia moved northward, first to Pavia (at the court of Giangaleazzo Visconti) and then (with the support of later Archbishop/Cardinal Zabarella) to Padua Cathedral, where he finally become cantor et custos of the Cathedral. Here, once again, Zacara and Ciconia could have encountered one another as a consequence of the movements of the papal chapels in conjunction with the failed Council of Pisa (1409). Obviously because of his more international background Ciconia was at home in both the late Ars Nova and the Trecento styles, writing in diverse secular genres (in French and Italian) as well as in several styles of the secular and religious motet and the liturgical Gloria and Credo.

Zacara and Ciconia: while in Rome Ciconia composed in a style which showed close contrapuntal, formal and declamatory ties to that of Zacara. His most famous 'imitation' is a Gloria–Credo pair modeled on Zacara's Gloria Micinella and Credo Cursor. Ciconia's pair uses Zacara's tenor, is also for four voices with opening, imitative sections for two high voices and is in the more Italian duple meter, with an extended Gloria amen in the French triple meter. Also Ciconia at least makes a valiant attempt to model his text declamation on that of Zacara. Luckily, his melodic shape and declamation, combined with a very graceful, non-Zacara-like dissonance treatment, lead directly back to his French-speaking origins. However, Ciconia also wrote several songs in Italian which further strengthen the stylistic bond between him and his mentor.

The Zacara/Ciconia Project Week will have two objects: to present the two mass pairs in all their similar and dissimilar glory and to become acquainted with several of the related two-part Roman songs of both composers. As was normal practice at that time whenever possible an improvised contratenor voice will be added to the two pre-existing ones.

Teachers: Rebecca Stewart and Martin Erhardt.

 
 

All Dates

  • from 22 02 2009 to 27 02 2009

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