Anthony M. Cummings
Three gigli:
Medici musical patronage
in the early Cinquecento∗
1. A Medici cardinal’s musical interests
“Nostro signore sta su la musica più che mai, e di varie sorti”1
In such references, the famed author of The book of the courtier, and numerous
contemporaries, testified to the musical interests of Pope Leo X (reigned 1513–21),
one of the great patrons of music in European history.2 They knew whereof they
spoke. Several of the earliest epistolary allusions to Leo’s 1513 election already make
prominent mention of his love of music, in vivid, “chatty” asides intended to convey
a picture of the new pope and of the fundamental distinguishing characteristics of
his remarkable personality; they set the tone for innumerable future references. On
April 20, 1513, a month after Leo’s election, Peter Martyr — who wrote memorably
in his De orbe novo of Columbus’ discoveries in the western hemisphere3 — reported
that, “we have a learned, but musical, pope, who delights in companies of singers”.4
* My three-part essay on Medici musical patronage is entitled “Three Gigli”, which is intended as a
whimsical reference to the three fleurs-de-lis of the Medici coat of arms. I welcome the opportunity to
thank my colleagues and friends Linda L. Carroll (Professor of French and Italian at Tulane University),
Richard Sherr (The Caroline L. Wall ’27 Professor of Music at Smith College), and Richard J. Tuttle
(Professor of Art at Tulane) for reading my paper in typescript and suggesting numerous improvements.
As in all such cases, my readers are absolved of any responsibility for errors that remain; they are mine
1 “His Holiness, more than ever, is interested in music, and of various kinds”; cf. BALDASSAR CASTIGLIONE, Tutte le opere, vol I/1: Le lettere, vol. I (1497 – marzo 1521), ed. Guido La Rocca, Milano,
Mondadori, 1978 (I classici Mondadori), p. 414, letter from Rome, to the Marchesa Isabella d’Este
Gonzaga, 16 June 1519.
2 The literature on Leo X and his musical patronage is vast. On his musical patronage, see especially
ANDRÉ PIRRO, “Leo X and music”, The musical quarterly, XXI, 1935, pp. 1–16, and HERMAN-WALTHER
FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle unter Leo X und zu seiner Privatkapelle”, Die Musikforschung
VIII, 1955, pp. 58–73, 178–199, 412–437, and IX, 1956, pp. 46–57, 139–156, 411–419.
3 JOHN HORACE PARRY, The age of discovery, New York, Mentor Book — New American Library
of World Literature, 1963, p. 170. On Peter Martyr, see ANTHONY GRAFTON with APRIL SHELFORD and
NANCY SIRAISI, New worlds, ancient texts. The power of tradition and the shock of discovery, Cambridge, MA
– London, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992, pp. 54–55, 82.
4 PIETRO MARTIRE D’ANGHIERA, Opus epistolarum […] editio postrema, Paris, F. Leonard, 1570, pp.
282–283, bk. 26: “Epist. DXIX. / Leo X papa annorum XXXVIII. de affectibus cardinalium. Ignota febri
Earlier still, in March of 1513, Alberto Pio — count of Carpi and Emperor Maximilian I’s ambassador in Rome — reported that Leo’s favored intimates were letterati,
orators, poets, and musicians.5 In September of 1513, six months after Leo’s election,
the notorious Venetian gossip Marino Sanuto entered a letter from the Venetian oratore
(ambassador) in Spain into his fascinating and informative diary: it was said of Leo in
Vallodolid, Sanuto recorded, that “he values nothing other than playing the lute, and
knows nothing of statecraft”.6 Later in Leo’s papacy, Marino Zorzi reported to the
Signoria of Venice that “the pope is a lover of letters, learned in the humanities and
canon law, and above all a most excellent musician; and when he sings with someone,
he has him paid 100 ducats and more”.7 In July of 1520, the papal singer Giovanni
Francesco Padovano reported to Cardinal Ippolito d’Este that “the pope is interested
laborat rex hisp. Est in meliorata rex. recidivavit. Phrenisi laboravit. Copiæ Anglorum contra Gallos.
Medices est papa. De moribus papæ. Quando in conclavim. Rex Hisp. liber à febri. / P.M.A.M. Ludovico Furtato Mendocio mei Tendillæ Comitis filio. / […] Heri fui Oratoris nomine mihi significat,
se habuisse literas ex Florentia de creatione Medices cardinalis concivis fui græce ac latine. Habemus
pontificem eruditum, sed musicum, & qui cantorum collegijs & frequenti corona delectetur. Pacis
est suopte studio amator, minime martialis, mitis admodum, suorum & affinium & familiarium æquo
amantior […]. Interea dum nuncius moratur, Rex bene valuit. liber est febri. & tu vale. ex Valledoleto.
XX. Aprilis, MDXIII”.
5 Lettres du roy Louis XII, et du cardinal George d’Amboise, avec plusieurs autres lettres, memoires & instructions écrites depuis 1504. jusques & compris 1514 […], Brussels, F. Foppens, 1522, vol. IV, pp. 72–80: 79–80:
«Opinione mea pontifex maximus potius erit mitis ut agnus quam ferox ut leo, pacis erit cultor magis
quam belli, erit fidei promissorumque servator religiosus, amicus Gallorum certe non erit, sed nec acer
hostis ut fuerat Julius, gloriam & honorem non negliget, favebit literatis hoc est oratoribus & poetis
ac etiam musicis, edificia construet, rem sacram religiose peraget nec ditionem ecclesiasticam negliget,
bellum non suscipiet nisi plurimum lacessitus & valde coactus, excepto bello contro infideles ad quod
suscipiendum jam aspirare videtur, si quid incipiet illud perficere conabitur, permodestus erit & valde
facilis: Hec de eo huc usque conjectari possunt, tamen homines mutant in horas & ludit in humanis
divina potentia rebus. Cor enim principis in manu Dei est qui illud vertere potest quocumque vult: si
servare voluerit articulos conclavii, ad quos tamen ipsemet, nec cardinales omnes seum astringere possunt, cum habeat potestatem a Kristo Deo nostro illimitate sibi concessam, quam nec usum ejus ipse sibi
limitare aut coarctare potest, erit unus semi papa & jam videntur isti reverendissimi cardinales quotquot
sunt fere tot esse pontifices & plurimum gaudent a tanta severitate & gravitate Julii ad tantam lenitatem
& facilitatem Leonis devenisse. Ipse heri consecratus est sacerdos & cras consecrabitur episcopus, & die
sabbathi aut lunæ in templo principis apostolorum triplicem coronam pontificatus suscipiet & viiij. die
post celebritatem Paschatis cum pompa procedet ad suscipiendum dyadema de more ad templum Salvatoris in Laterano». A clue as to the date of Pio’s letter is suggested by references in the final sentence
of the passage quoted, where Pio mentions Leo’s consecration as priest and bishop and his investiture
with the papal crown; this last occurred on March 19, 1513. See JACOPO PENNI, Cronica delle magnifiche
et honorate pompe fatte in Roma per la creatione et incoronatione di papa Leone X, pont. opt. max., now readily
available in FABRIZIO CRUCIANI’s excellent and useful volume Teatro nel rinascimento. Roma 1450–1550,
Rome, Bulzoni, 1983, pp. 390–405, especially p. 391.
6 “E qui disse grandissimo mal dil papa, dicendo ch’el non val niente, si no di sonar liuto, e non sa
di Stado”; MARINO SANUTO, I diarii, ed. Rinaldo Fulin et al., 58 vols., Venice, Visentini, 1879–1902,
vol. XVII, cols. 163–164.
7 17 March 1517: “Il papa è amatore delle lettere, dotto in umanità e giure canonico, e sopratutto
musico eccellentissimo; e quando canta con qualcuno, gli fa donare cento e più ducati”; SANUTO, I diarii,
vol. XXIV, col. 93, and Relazioni degli ambasciatori veneti al Senato, ed. Eugenio Albèri, Florence, Società
Editrice Fiorentina, 1839–1863, s. II, vol. III, p. 56.
in music daily, one day singing, and the other he is back to playing”.8 Twice in early
1521, the Venetian oratore in Rome reported from La Magliana — the favored Leonine retreat, located outside the Eternal City — that he “went […] to see the pope,
who after dinner was listening to certain music”, and, similarly, “the pope was in La
Magliana purging himself, and gives no audiences; he is interested in comedies and
music”.9 These representative references are only a few of the many that could be
invoked as evidence of the pope’s passion for music.
Leo’s musical patronage practices did not, however, emerge fully-formed at the
beginning of his papacy, like Athena from the head of Zeus. On the contrary: they
were the natural, inevitable expression of interests that had been refined over a lifetime. When situated within the proper, fully-developed context, the references from
before his election to the papacy fit hand-in-glove with those from after, and vice
versa; there is a seamless quality to the picture of his musical personality that emerges
when the available archival texts from his cardinalate are located within the appropriate, larger documentary context.
What specifically do we know of Leo’s musical interests and patronage practices as
Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici? What documentary evidence substantiates the abundant, effusive testimony from the very beginnings of his pontificate as to his love of
music? It is of several types:
1) evidence of Cardinal Giovanni’s delight in music-making and in fraternizing
with musicians (references a and b);
2) of his personal musical abilities, knowledge, and accomplishments (references
c, d, e, and f);
3) of musicians in Cardinal Giovanni’s private service (references g, h, i, j, and
4) of his activity and accomplishments as a composer (reference l); and
5) of his personal collection of music manuscripts (reference m).
Let us address each of these in turn.
1) There are, first, the contemporary documentary witnesses that suggest that
— during his cardinalate as during his pontificate — Leo delighted in the company
of musicians. a) In Le Vite di Leon decimo, Paolo Giovio remarked that “more than the
others, the letterati would continuously frequent Cardinal Giovanni’s library, of great
8 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Archivio Estense, Compositori e maestri di cappella, busta 1: “Il papa
cotidie sta in su la musica, un giorno in cantar et l’altro in sonar de novo; è venuto Marco Anto et Juan
Maria del cornetto mio cosino et fa miracoli non dico che risusitò morti. Hanno ducento ducati ciaschedun delloro de provision l’anno et son pagati per serapica non altro”; see KNUD JEPPESEN, “Eine frühe
Orgelmesse aus Castell’Arquato”, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, XII, 1955, pp. 187–205: p. 192, n. 3.
9 SANUTO, I diarii, vol. XXX, cols. 173–174, 223: “Di Roma, di l’orator nostro, dì 23. Come eri andò
a la Magnana [= Magliana] a trovar il papa, qual poi pranso udiva certa musica”. “Di Roma, di l’orator,
dì 5. Come el papa era a la Magnana [sic] purgarsi, né dà udientia; sta su comedie et musiche”.
antiquity, which his father Lorenzo had most abundantly furnished with Greek and
Latin books […]. His house, similarly, was always full of musicians and instrumentalists,
he having emerged most learned and excellent in that art”.10 b) Giovio’s reference in
turn so closely echoes Francesco Albertini’s in the Opusculum (1510) (“In qua biblioteca pro commodo suo quisque studere potest, non obstante præsentia reverendissimi
Cardinalis, viri doctissimi, græcarum latinarumque litterarum et musicæ peritissimi”)
that one suspects that the Opusculum may have served as one of Giovio’s sources.11
Albertini’s reference is to Palazzo Ottieri (or Palazzo di Sinulfo di Castell’Ottieri),
Cardinal Giovanni’s Roman residence after 1503, renowned for its library and collection of antiquities; it was subsequently known as Palazzo Medici, and is now Palazzo
Madama, the current seat of the Italian Senate.12
2) Giovio’s reference to Leo’s personal musical accomplishments is only one of
several references from the time of his cardinalate that attest his general reputation
as a musician. They are consistent with those from his papacy cited above and many
other similar references, and suggest that his reputation was established early on. c)
In his De cardinalatu libri tres (Castel Cortesiano, 1510, liber secundus, f. LXXIIIv), Paolo
Cortese characterized “Cardinal Io. Medices” as “a knowledgeable man in the learned
consideration of musical matters”.13 d) In the original dedication of his De musica et
poetica to “Giovanni de’ Medici, Cardinal-Deacon and Most Prudent Legate of the
Apostolic See in Bologna and Tuscany”, Raffaele Brandolini wrote that
Le vite di Leon decimo et d’Adriano sesto sommi pontefici, et del cardinal Pompeo Colonna
[…] tradotte da m. Lodovico Domenichi, Venice, G. de’ Rossi, 1557, bk. II, p. 102: “e i litterati piu che
gli altri di continuo frequentavano la libreria di grande antichità, che Lorenzo suo padre abondantissimamente haveva fornito di libri greci & latini […] Era similmente la sua casa sempre piena di musici
& sonatori di stromenti; essendo egli riuscito dottissimo & eccellentissimo in quella arte”. For this
reference, I am grateful to my friend Dr. Sheryl E. Reiss.
11 FRANCESCO ALBERTINI, Opusculum de mirabilibus novæ et veteris urbis Romæ, in Codice topografico della
città di Roma, ed. Roberto Valentini and Giuseppe Zacchetti, 4 vols., Rome, Tipografia del Senato,
1940–1953 (Fonti per la storia d’Italia. Scrittori, secoli I–XV, 81, 88, 90, 91), vol. IV, pp. 457–546: 531.
12 KATHLEEN WEIL-GARRIS – JOHN F. D’AMICO, “The Renaissance cardinal’s ideal palace. A chapter
from Cortesi’s De cardinalatu”, Studies in Italian art and architecture, 15th through 18th centuries, ed. Henry A.
Millon, Cambridge, MA – Rome, MIT Press – American Academy in Rome, 1980, pp. 45–123: p. 116, n.
117, citing CHRISTOPH LUITPOLD FROMMEL, Der römische Palastbau der Hochrenaissance, 3 vols. Tübingen, E.
Wasmuth, 1973, vol. II, p. 227. On Cardinal Giovanni’s residence in Rome, see also HERMAN-WALTHER
FREY, “Leo X”, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Kassel, Bärenreiter, vol. VIII, 1960, cols. 619–622:
619, for reference to the “mit dem reichen väterlichen Bibl. und kostbaren Antiken geschmückten
Palazzo”. On the residence, see, above all, DOMENICO GNOLI’s fundamental “Il Palazzo del Senato già
Madama”, Nuova antologia, CCXLVIII, serie VII, agosto 1926, pp. 249–264: 253, for references to Lorenzo
il Magnifico’s library of Greek and Latin texts (transferred by Cardinal Giovanni from Florence to Rome,
and today the nucleus of the Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana in Florence), to the presence of learned
men, poets, and musicians, and to the playing of lutenists and violists. For this important reference, I
am grateful to my colleague Professor Richard J. Tuttle.
13 “[…] ex quo non sine causa Io. Medices senator homo in musicis litterata pervestigatione prudens,
neminem in præstantium musicorum numerum referendum esse censet, qui minus gnarus litatorij modi
faciendi sit”; see NINO PIRROTTA, “Music and cultural tendencies in fifteenth-century Italy”, Music and
culture in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Baroque, A collection of essays, Cambridge, MA, –London, Harvard
University Press, 1984, pp. 80–112: 100, 104.
Even the sternest critic would agree that you took such delight in musical concords
that by listening to them you softened your harshest cares and concerns. Indeed, you
made such progress that in a brief span of time you began to master all the innermost
precepts of the art. And finally you so mastered them that in your leisure time you
vied with even the most famous masters, not only in knowledge and skill but also in
renown and glory.
Later, Brandolini added that
Cardinal-Deacon Giovanni […] long ago studied the art of music […] He so enjoys
it in his leisure hours that sometimes he actually sings together with choice singers, and
at other times listens attentively to others singing, sometimes using a varied and pleasing
harmony of stringed instruments.14
There is also the evidence from Leo’s time as cardinal that documents that he was
the recipient of the gift of others’ musical compositions. e) In July of 1501, Antoine
de Berghes, the Abbé de Saint-Bertin, entrusted Erasmus of Rotterdam with a letter for Cardinal Giovanni, in which the abbot enclosed “cantiunculas musicas duas”,
newly-composed.15 Such references continue and, indeed, multiply after Leo’s election
to the papacy, when there was the added element that he was sometimes asked to
assess the artistic quality of the works sent. In February of 1514, less than a year after
14 RAFFAELE BRANDOLINI, On music and poetry (De musica et poetica, 1513), translated and with an introduction and notes by Ann E. Moyer, with the assistance of Marc Laureys, Tempe, Arizona: Arizona
Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001 (Medieval and Renaissance texts and studies, 232),
pp. 6–7, 20–21: “Raphael Brandolinus iunior Lippus Ioanni Medico diacono cardinali ac prudentissimo
Bononiæ Thusciæque Apostolicæ Sedis legato S.P.D […]. Musicis vero concentibus ita es vel severissimi
cuiusque iudicio delectatus, ut audiendis his acerbissimas curas molestiasque lenieris. Ita medius fidius
profecisti, ut intima quæque eius artis præcepta brevi temporis spatio perceperis. Ita demum percepisti,
ut cum præclaris etiam magistris non tantum cognitione et peritia, verum etiam laude et gloria per
ocium decertaris […]. Cuius exemplo Joannes diaconus cardinalis nulla quidem animi atque ingenij
dote Laurentio parente dignissimum se filium non ostendens, et musicam artem tanto studio olim
perdidicit, ut nunc præstantissimis eius doctoribus antecellat, et sic ea succisivis temporibus delectatur,
ut cum lectissimis cantoribus ipse interim canat, canentes quandoque alios attentissime audiat, adhibita
nonnunquam varia iucundaque fidium harmonia”.
15 “Antonius de Bergis abbas Bertinicus r.d. Ioanni de Medicis cardinali per Erasmum. Mitto autem
cantiunculas musicas duas; quod ego munus, tametsi perquam exiguum ac ciceroniana etiam levidensa
levius, tamen haud ingratum fore confido, vel quod es ipse huius artis antiquissimæ omniumque consensu diuinæ longe scientissimus, itidem ut aliarum omnium; vel quod cantilena recens est et nuperrime
nata, et ex eo quidem nata qui se quondam in clarissima Medicum familia prædicat alitum fuisse; quæ
mihi nimirum ingenijs excitandis ornandisque studijs cœlitus data fuisse videtur. Is est in nostra vrbe
musicæ artis princeps. Apud divum Audomarum. III. Calend. Augustas. Anno a Christo nato supra
millesimum quingentesimoprimo”. See ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM, Opus epistolarum, ed. Philip Schuyler
Allen, Oxford, Clarendon, 1906, pp. 371–372. Might the abbot’s reference in the final sentence (“Is
est in nostra urbe musicæ artis princeps”) be to Loyset Compère? Although not known to have been
resident in St. Omer in 1501, Compère was a member of a family said by his friend, the renowned poet
Jean Molinet, to have been of St. Omer origin; see LUDWIG FINSCHER, Loyset Compère (c 1450–1518). Life
and works, American Institute of Musicology, n.p., 1964 (Musicological studies and documents, 12), pp.
14, 18, where Finscher identifies “Compère’s presumed birthplace” as St. Omer. If Molinet’s statement
his election, Alfonso Trotti — writing from Ferrara to Cardinal Ippolito di Ercole I
d’Este in Rome — enclosed a motet that he had had composed to the text In te Domine speravi for Conte Arrigo Rangone to present to Leo in Trotti’s name.16 In June
of 1515, another Ferrarese correspondent received a report from Leo concerning the
reception of the cantilena he had sent.17
Such references attest Cardinal Giovanni’s general reputation as a student of music
and pay implicit tribute to his discerning taste; as such, they are consistent with references in yet another genre: his letters of recommendation on behalf of musicians,
otherwise typically routinely sent, which in Cardinal Giovanni’s case, however, were
likelier to have been carefully heeded. His judgment was valued not only in the matter
of evaluating musical compositions, therefore, but also of assessing the performing and
compositional capabilities of musicians. f) Such letters abound during his papacy,18
but there is at least one from the time of his cardinalate, a 1507 letter to Ippolito di
Ercole I d’Este on behalf of a “Jacopo musico”.19
was correct, Compère was assuredly the most distinguished composer of the time from St. Omer, and
the abbot’s reference claiming him as first in the art of music in St. Omer would be an understandable
allusion to a musically-accomplished native son. Any number of Compère’s works are transmitted in
Florentine and papal music manuscripts from Leo’s time as pope, among them Florence, Biblioteca
Nazionale Centrale, Ms. II.I.232 (on which see ANTHONY M. CUMMINGS, “A Florentine sacred repertory
from the Medici restoration […]”, Acta musicologica, LV, 1983, pp. 267–332), and Vatican City, Biblioteca
Apostolica Vaticana, manuscript Cappella Sistina 46. Might one of those two sources (or both) contain
the “cantiunculas musicas duas” sent to Leo in 1501?
16 LUIGI FRANCESCO VALDRIGHI, “Cappelle, concerti e musiche di casa d’Este (dal sec. XV al XVIII)”,
Atti e memorie delle RR. Deputazioni di Storia Patria per le Provincie Modenesi e Parmensi, s. III, II, 1883, pp.
415–495: 460: “LVII. Sec. XVI. — Mottetti. — (Arch. Est. — spogli Campori). 1514, 3 feb. — Trotti
Alfonso, Ferrara; al card. a Roma. Gli manda un mottetto da lui fatto comporre su le parole In te domine
speravi al co. Arrigo Rangone (?), che lo presenti in suo nome al papa, per averlo favorevole”.
17 “Sigismundo Trotto ferrariensi. / quam ad me scriptam probe sane & multa musicæ artis suavitate
atque dulcedine aspersam cantilenam attulit Vincentius Mutinensis missam abs te mihi, ea me reliquosque, quos habeo multos, ut scis, ea in re doctos homines oblectavit tenuitque plurimum. Mirifice enim
placuit, visa3 est eiusmodi, vt nihil ei ad aurium delectationem animosque permulcendos prope deesset,
ita vocum inflectione, varietate, concinnitate, artificio denique omni & temperamento continebatur.
Qua in re & tuam in me obseruantiam & optimum ijs in rebus sensum & iudicium animi ingenijs que
tui profecto agnovi. Itaque ista tua diligentia cum de veteribus tuis missus ad me scriptas cantibus tum de
hoc novo, mihi valde grata est. Quod te scire volui, ut confideres, me de te & remunerando et ornando
cogitare. Dat. V. Id. Iun. M.D.XV. Anno tertio. Roma”, PIETRO BEMBO, Epistolarum Leonis decimi pontificis
maximi homine scriptarum libri sexdecim […], Köln, P. Horst., 1574, p. 257, bk. X, letter 37. On Sigismondo Trotti, see LEWIS LOCKWOOD, “Jean Mouton and Jean Michel: French music and musicians in Italy,
1505–1520”, Journal of the American Musicological Society, XXXII, 1979, pp. 191–246: 214, n. 58–59.
18 For a few examples of recommendations on behalf of musicians issued at Pope Leo’s behest, see,
for example, FEDERICO GHISI, I canti carnascialeschi nelle fonti musicali del XV e XVI secolo, Florence, Olschki,
1937, pp. 43–44; FRANK D’ACCONE, “Heinrich Isaac in Florence: new and unpublished documents”,
Musical quarterly, XLIX, 1963, pp. 464–483: 473–474, and RICHARD SHERR, “Verdelot in Florence, Coppini in Rome, and the singer ‘La Fiore’”, Journal of the American Musicological Society, XXXVII, 1984, pp.
402–411: 405.
19 MARCELLO DEL PIAZZO, Il carteggio “Medici-Este” dal sec. XV al 1531. Regesti delle lettere conservate negli
Archivi di Stato di Firenze e Modena, Rome, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1964 (Quaderni della Rassegna degli Archivi di Stato, 34), p. 26, no. 82.
3) Such abstract references, as informative as they are, lack specificity and precision;
they tantalize, but they do not deliver, alas. Precisely which musicians were in Cardinal Giovanni’s employ? And, in aggregate, what, if anything, might their professional
profiles tell us specifically about the cardinal’s actual musical interests? The available
documentation suggests the following:
g) Atalante Migliorotti
A passing allusion in the official correspondence of the Marchesa Isabella d’Este
Gonzaga of Mantua demonstrates that the renowned improvisatory singer Atalante
Migliorotti was in Cardinal Giovanni’s employ in the late-fifteenth century:
My Lord Manfredo de’ Manfredi / Ambassador of the Duke of Ferrara in Florence /
Magnificence, etc. By means of the enclosed, we are writing to the Florentine Atalante,
citharedo, who resides with the Most Reverend Cardinal de’ Medici, to request that he
have a beautiful small cithara made for our use, of as many strings as he thinks best. We
ask you to have the letter given to him, and to urge him that we be served, and — he
needing payment — to pay him, which we shall immediately remit to you […] [From
our Palace, 22 June 1493].20
Migliorotti had earlier been in the employ of Cardinal Giovanni’s older brother
Piero,21 and later — during the second decade of the sixteenth century — there are
20 The Marchesa Isabella d’Este Gonzaga of Mantua wrote to Migliorotti to request that he have
“a good and fine small cithara” made for her, for which he would be compensated by Manfredo de’
Manfredi, her father’s agent, “the ambassador of the Most Illustrious Duke of Ferrara”. Pertinent portions of Isabella’s letter (copy in Mantua, Archivio di Stato, Archivio Gonzaga, busta 2991, libro 3, f. 69r
[copialettere]) are excerpted in ANTONINO BERTOLOTTI, Musici alla corte dei Gonzaga in Mantova dal secolo
XV al XVIII, Milano, Ricordi, 1890 (facsimile Bologna, Forni, 1969), p. 15; I have corrected Bertolotti’s
reading on the basis of a transcription graciously provided by Professor William Prizer. The letter
translated in my accompanying text, dated that same day, is the Marchesa’s “cover letter” to Manfredi,
with which she enclosed the original of her letter to Migliorotti; I am again very grateful to Professor
Prizer for providing me with a transcription of the marchesa’s letter to Manfredi and for generously
granting me permission to publish it. Mantua, Archivio di Stato, Archivio Gonzaga, busta 2991, libro 3,
f. 69r [copialettere], Marchesa Isabella d’Este Gonzaga, Porto Mantovano, to Manfredo de’ Manfredi):
“Domine Manfredo de Manfredis, oratori duci Ferrarie in Florentia / Magnifice, et cetera. Scrivamo
per la inclusa ad Atlante Fiorentino citharedo, qual sta cum el reverendissimo monsignore cardinale
di Medici, che’l voglia farne fare una bella citharra picola per uso nostro de quante corde parerà a lui.
Pregamovi che gli faciati dare la lettera et sollecitare che siamo servite et, bisognandoli dinari, dategli,
che ve li rimeteremo subito, pigliando etiam cura de mandarcela, facta che la sia, che da vui haveremo
gratissimo. Offerendone a li vostri piaceri sempre paratissime. Ut supra [Ex Palatio nostro Portus, 22
Junij 1493]”.
21 In 1490, officials of the Gonzaga court had attempted to secure Migliorotti’s services for a theatrical
performance in Mantua; Migliorotti was then in the employ of Piero di Lorenzo de’ Medici. The first
item documenting the attempt — Girolamo Stanga’s letter of 29 October 1490 to the Marchese Francesco Gonzaga, in which Stanga wrote that “Mandarò per cavallaro a posta a Firenze per aver quello
Athlante, e farò scrivere una lettera a Piero de Medici in nome de la Ex. V.ra [and I shall have a letter
written to Piero de’ Medici in Your Excellency’s name]” — is excerpted in ALESSANDRO D’ANCONA,
Origini del teatro italiano, 2 vols., Turin, Loescher, 1891, vol. II, p. 359. The marchese’s letter to Piero
of 31 October 1490 is excerpted in EMMA TEDESCHI, “La ‘Rappresentazione d’Orfeo’ e la ‘Tragedia
texts documenting that his relationship to Cardinal Giovanni (by then Leo X) had
h) Bartolomeo (Baccio) Ugolini
Although not in the same category as the professional musician Atalante Migliorotti, Baccio Ugolini — an ecclesiastic and an officer in the Florentine government
— was also a gifted singer, and clearly an intimate of Giovanni de’ Medici, though
not an employee in the narrower sense. Ugolini was indebted to Giovanni for his appointment as Giovanni’s representative in Montecassino, where Giovanni was “abate
commendatario”.23 Ugolini is exceedingly well known to music historians as a solo
singer, and especially for performing the title role in Angelo Poliziano’s renowned
Orfeo in Mantua in 1480.24
i) Galeazzo Baldo di Bologna, musicus secretus
Among the earliest references from Leo’s papacy is one that documents that the
musician Galeazzo Baldo had been in his employ during his cardinalate.25 Indeed,
Galeazzo’s name appears on the famous ruolo of the papal court that dates from within
about a year of Leo’s accession.26 References in the papal accounts pertain not solely
d’Orfeo’”, Atti e memorie [della] Reale Accademia Virgiliana di Mantova, R. Deputazione di storia patria per
l’antico ducato, n.s., XVII-XVIII, 1924–25, pp. 47–74: 69, where Migliorotti is called “Athalante vostro
[your (i.e., Piero’s) Atalante]”.
22 Atalante’s continuing relationship to Leo is documented in ANTHONY M. CUMMINGS, “The Sacred
Academy of the Medici and Florentine musical life of the early Cinquecento”, Musica franca: Essays in
honor of Frank A. D’Accone, ed. Irene Alm, Alyson McLamore, and Colleen Reardon, Stuyvesant, NY,
Pendragon, 1996, pp. 45–77.
23 GIOVANNI BATTISTA PICOTTI, “Tra il poeta ed il lauro (Pagina della vita di Angelo Poliziano)”, Ricerche umanistiche, XXIV, 1955, pp. 3–86: 16, n. 2. On Ugolini’s relationship to Giovanni, see also GIOVANNI
BATTISTA PICOTTI, La giovinezza di Leone X, il papa del Rinascimento, Milan, Hoepli, 1927, pp. 115–122.
24 See the opening chapter of NINO PIRROTTA’s Music and theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi, trans.
Karen Eales, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982.
25 Frey’s highly-abbreviated citation (FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, p. 417) omitted the
passage documenting Galeazzo’s service to Cardinal Giovanni — “1513, Mai (Rome, Archivio di Stato,
Camerale I, 859, f. 5): Galeatio de Baldis de Bononia musico salarium sex ducatorum auri de camera singulis
mensibus Kal. Aprilis proxime preteriti incipiendo et deinde ad suum beneplacitum duraturo concedit et
presentium tenore deputat”. — although later (ibid., p. 418) Frey supplied the pertinent reference: “Er stand
schon vor der Thronbesteigung Leos X. in seinem Diensten, denn das Mandat vom Mai 1513 hebt diese
ausdrücklich hervor: ‘etiam dum cardinalatus honore fungebamur’”; see also ibid., p. 412. The full text of
the relevant document is provided by GIROLAMO AMATI, “Notizia di alcu ni manoscritti dell’Archivio segreto
vaticano”, Archivio storico italiano, s. III, III/1, 1866, pp. 166–236: 216: “Grata devotionis et familiaritatis obsequia
que dilectus filius Galeatius de Baldis de Bononia musicus nobis etiam dum cardinalatus honore fungebamur
impendit et impendere non desistit, nec non vitæ et morum honestas aliaque virtutum merita quibus in nos
comprobatur, nos inducunt ut ipsum specialibus favoribus et gratijs prosequamur; hinc est quod motu proprio
et ex certa scientia, et non ad ipsius Galeatij instantiam sed de nostra mera liberalitate tibi Galeatio salarium
et provisionem sex ducatorum auri de camera singulis mensibus concedimus etc. Cupientes dilecto filio
Galeatio suprascripto ut suis exigentibus meritis maiorem et ampliorem gratiam facere, et propterea volumus
provisionem preinsertam sex ducatorum in tribus alijs ducatis accrescere et augere etc”.
26 “Die primo madij 1514 / Rottulus familie S.mi D.N. et primo […] Galeatius, musicus”; ALESSANDRO FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X (1514–1516), ed. Vincenzo De Caprio, Rome, Bulzoni,
1984, pp. 9, 21.
to Galeazzo himself, but also to his wife27 and son,28 which suggests something of
the affectionate intimacy of his relationship to the pope, hardly surprising in light of
its longevity.29
j) Gentile Santesio detto “Pindaro”
Gentile Santesio (or Sandesi) (1463/64–1526), a native of Subiaco30 and loyal
servant of Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici in 1503 and thereafter,31 was known to
contemporaries as a musician: the De poetis urbanis of Francesco Arsilli (ca. 1470–ca.
1540) — included in Arsilli’s Coriciana (Rome, 1524) — makes reference to a Pindaro
“who excites the forests with his sweet lyre and draws the stones close to him”.32
His musical abilities were sufficiently well-known that Pietro Aretino had Santesio
participate figuratively (in the Pasquinate) in an imaginary procession, “dressed like a
prelate, singing laude”.33
k) Gian Maria Giudeo, sonatore del liuto
Like Galeazzo Baldo, the famed Jewish lutenist Gian Maria was in Leo’s employ
during his cardinalate, which is evident from the earliest documentary reference to
Gian Maria dating from Leo’s papacy.34 Gian Maria was one of the most loyal servants
of the House of Medici, his presence in Florence attested already in the late-fifteenth
century: a 1489 reference to a “Zoani Maria” in Florence “che suona il liuto [who
27 FREY,
28 FREY,
“Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle“, IX, p. 56, n. 90–91.
“Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle“, IX, p. 56.
29 I also assume that the following references from the time of Clement VII and Paul III refer to Galeazzo Baldo, which suggests that he passed from Leo’s service, to his cousin Clement’s, to Paul’s: May
16, 1524, “Galeazzo sonatore di liutto”; FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, IX, p. 144. August
29, 1524, “a Galeazo mussicho per mancia”; ibid., p. 144. For the many payments to “Galeazzo musico”
during Paul’s pontificate, see LÉON DOREZ, La cour du pape Paul III d’après les registres de la Trésorerie secrète
(Collection F. de Navenne), 2 vols., Paris, 1932, entries in the index to Galeazzo.
30 On Santesio, see FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, pp. 503–510.
31 A representative reference documenting his service to Cardinal Giovanni is in SANUTO, I diarii, vol.
XV, col. 446: “2 gennaio 1513: da poi venne uno secretario fiorentino del card. di Medici, nominato
dom.o Zentil Pindaro da Subiaco, con lettere del cardinale. […]” On Leonine employees who entered
Leo’s service during his cardinalate and continued an association during his pontificate — like the
musicians Baldo, Migliorotti, and Santesio, for example — see, in general, JOHN D’AMICO, Renaissance
humanism in papal Rome. Humanists and churchmen on the eve of the Reformation, Baltimore — London,
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983, p. 45.
32 FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 503.
33 FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 508.
34 Rome, Archivio di Stato, , as quoted in FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, p. 427:
“Mit Rücksicht auf die ‘grata devotionis et familiaritatis obsequia, que Iohannes Maria Dominici Alemanus musicus nobis, etiam dum cardinalatus honore fungebamur, impendit et impendere non desistit,’
gewährt Leo X, ‘eidem Iohanni Marie salarium et provisionem vigintitrium ducatorum auri de camera
singulis mensibus a die nostre ad apostolatus apicem assumptionis incipiendo et deinde ad nostrum beneplacitum duraturo’”; see also FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, p. 412. On Gian Maria’s
relationship to the Medici, see, most recently, ANTHONY M. CUMMINGS, “Gian Maria Giudeo, sonatore
del liuto, and the Medici”, Fontes artis musicæ, XXXVIII/4, 1991, pp. 312–318.
plays the lute]”35 is certainly to Gian Maria, and in 1492 the Medici may have been
responsible for ensuring that he was spared the death penalty for a murder he was
accused of having committed.36 He thereafter passed — seemingly effortlessly — from
the employ of one member of the family to another: from Lorenzo il Magnifico (presumably), to Lorenzo’s son Cardinal Giovanni, to Giovanni’s nephew Lorenzo di Piero
di Lorenzo, to Lorenzo’s cousin Cardinal Giulio di Giuliano. His early association
with the Medici presumably explains his presence in Leo’s entourage even before
his election to the papacy. And on May 1, 1514, he is listed among the “scutifferi” as
“Ioannes Maria, musicus” in the famous ruolo of the papal court.37
Arguing from the absence of evidence to the contrary is methodologically hazardous, especially when the documentary basis is so slender, but in aggregate the references suggest that Cardinal Giovanni’s musical tastes may have had a particular cast to
them: they may document a special interest in lute playing and in solo singing to the
accompaniment of a plucked-string instrument, which is also suggested by the second
of the two passages from Brandolini’s De musica quoted above (“sometimes he actually
sings together with choice singers, and at other times listens attentively to others singing, sometimes using a varied and pleasing harmony of stringed instruments”). Such
references from his cardinalate thus testify to earlier instances of practices that were
favored during his pontificate. There is the famous reference to Giovanni Manente’s
1515 performance, which Cardinal Ippolito d’Este recounted for his brother Alfonso,
Duke of Ferrara and Modena:
The titles “Duke and Duchess of Modena” for Your Magnificence and his consort are
just being made public; and yesterday morning — I having remained after mass to dine with
His Holiness, and being at the table — [Giovanni] Manente da Reggio presented himself
and began to sing certain of his sonnets that he had composed in honor of the said wife of
Your Magnificence, in which he named the Duchess of Modena; and His Holiness thus
stood over him for a while, and then said: “Now that it’s the holy days of Easter, why don’t
you sing something else, like the ‘Gloria’ and the ‘Te Deum,’ and leave aside these amorous
things”. And Manente thus set himself to singing the “Gloria in excelsis”.38
35 BIANCA BECHERINI, “Relazioni di musici fiamminghi con la corte dei Medici. Nuovi documenti”,
La rinascita, IV, 1941, pp. 84–112: 107.
36 The 1492 document attesting Gian Maria’s crime is in H. COLIN SLIM, “Gian and Gian Maria,
some fifteenth- and sixteenth-century namesakes”, Musical quarterly, LVII, 1971, pp. 562–574: 563–564,
572–574. It was Nino Pirrotta who suggested that the Medici “must […] have saved him from death in
1492”; see PIRROTTA, “Music and cultural tendencies in fifteenth-century Italy”, p. 108.
37 FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 21.
38 April 9, 1515, Cardinal Ippolito d’Este to Duke Alfonso: “Il titulo de Duca et Duchessa de Modena del magnifico et sua consorte se va pure divulgando: et heri mattina, essendo io dopoi la messa
restato a desinare con Nostro Signore et essendo a tavola, se apresentò [Giovanni] Mainente da Reggio
et cominzò a cantare certi soi sonetti che haveva facto in laude de dicta mogliera del Magnifico, neli
quali la nominava duchessa de Modena; et Sua Santità, stete così un poco sopra de sé et poi disse: ‘perché non cantate voi qualc’altra cosa, hora che sono li dì sancti de Pasqua, come è la gloria et tedeum
et lassati stare queste cose de amore?’ Et cusì epso Mainente se mise a cantare la gloria in excelsis”.; see
FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 488.
Innumerable payments recorded in the papal account books document similar
such activity: on 4 September 1518, “to him who sings of Orlando, 41 ducats”; on 29
September 1518, “to him who played the lyre at the fortress of Viterbo, 2 ducats”; on
9 October 1518, “to the one who was playing the cithara, 1 ducat”; “on the 13th day
of June 1520 […] 96 ducats as the allowance for three months for messer Francesco
Tertio (and three of his fellows placed here), who sang to the lute, at the rate of eight
ducats per month for each, and they started on the first day of this past May”;39 on
November 18, 1520, “To the cithara player who sings extemporaneously, 4 ducats”;40
and so on, and so on. Among the famous improvvisatori known to have been in Leo’s
employ was Messer Camillo Querno de Monopoli napolitano, archipoeta, as is suggested by an October, 1519, letter from the Archdeacon of Gabbioneta in Rome to
Mario Equicola:
A Neapolitan poet named “il Querno”, servant of the Duke of Adria, resides with the
pope. His Holiness told me that this Querno recited good poetry, […] such that on the
day of Saints Cosmas and Damian (which was on the twenty-seventh of last month),41
he was dressed as Venus, with two little Cupids, and he recited a notebook of verses.
And the pope gives him an allowance of 100 ducats, and they’ve placed him on the
roll with a stipend of 150 florins for declamations at festivals, and he does the oration
39 GIROLAMO AMATI, “Spese private di Leone X”., Il Buonarroti. Scritti sopra le arti e le lettere raccolti per
cura di Benvenuto Gasparoni, s. II/VI, ed. Enrico Narducci, Roma: Tipografia delle scienze mathematiche e fisiche, 1871, pp. 246–248. The agreement is confirmed by payments of 21 August 1520 (“A la
compagnia di messer Francesco Tertio, che cantono con leuto, duc. novantasei_____D. 96”) and 17
December 1520 (“A la Compagnia de messer Francesco Tertio_____D. 96”]. See FREY, “Regesten zur
päpstlichen Kapelle“, IX, p. 140 n. 94, 141.
40 FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, IX, p. 143, collated with AMATI, “Spese private di Leone
X”., pp. 246–248. Frey gives the date as November 18, Amati as November 10.
41 Various references from Leo’s papacy suggest that the feast of Cosmas and Damian — saints of
particular importance to the Medici — was celebrated lavishly. See, for example, the following. 27
September 1519: “E più adì 27 di decto el dì di Cosmo ali cantori piffere, trombette, giucolatori
etc. duc. ducento doro simili di mancie_____son duc. 200” (FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”,
IX, p. 142, collated with AMATI, “Spese private di Leone X”, p. 247. 6 October 1520, letter from the
Mantuan ambassador to Rome, Baldassare Castiglione, to Federico Gonzaga: “On the day of St. Cosimo, our Lord [Pope Leo X] had a beautiful feast. He invited twenty cardinals, many prelates, and all
the ambassadors to [midday] dinner. Also there were fifty-two musicians, all dressed as mendicants, who
made music of voices and of diverse instruments all together. Afterwards, there was a comedy” (Mantua,
Archivio di Stato, Archivio Gonzaga, busta 864, ff. 398–399, translated in WILLIAM PRIZER, “Lutenists at the
court of Mantua in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries”, Journal of the Lute Society of America,
XIII, 1980, pp. 5–35: 26, from the partial transcription in ALESSANDRO LUZIO, “Isabella d’Este e Leone
X dal Congresso di Bologna alla presa di Milano”, Archivio storico italiano, s. V, XLIV, 1909, p. 118. The
1520 celebration is attested by a considerably fuller, more illuminating contemporary reference, now
published and discussed in BONNIE J. BLACKBURN’s excellent article, “Music and festivities at the court
of Leo X. A Venetian view”, Early music history, XI, 1992, pp.1–37: 25–32, 34. 29 September 1521: “A
li cantori, pifari, trombetti, et altri musici furono al pasto di S. Cosmo ducati ducento octanta quattro,
iulii septe 1⁄2_____D. 284. iul. 71⁄2”… See FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle“, IX, p. 142. See
PARIDE DE GRASSI, Il diario di Leone X […] dai volumi manoscritti degli archivi vaticani della S. Sede, ed. Pio
Delicati and Mariano Armellini, Rome, Tip. della Pace F. Cuggiani, 1884, pp. 7, 104 n. 18, on the
formal act making the birthdays of Saints Cosmas and Damian a feast day.
for the Studio. And the pope makes him eat in his presence on a small, low stool, and
before he eats each course, he sings six verses on different themes.42
An evocative portrait of Querno appears in Paolo Giovio’s Elogia doctorum virorum
(which specifically attests his service at Leo’s court43), and the papal accounts from
Leo’s time record several payments to him.44
Of course, Leo as cardinal had access to other composers and performers than
those in his own employ. He was a member of one of the wealthiest and most celebrated of European families, renowned for its patronage of artists and letterati, and he
could readily have availed himself of the services of musicians in the regular employ of
Medici relatives, his father and others (although, as we shall presently see, there is evidence that their exile had had the almost inevitable effect of diminishing their wealth).
Moreover, as a (moderately?) wealthy cardinal intermittently resident in Rome, Leo
would presumably have had access to the scores (if not hundreds) of musicians employed there at any one time. His private musical experiences, therefore, need not
have been the product of his own “establishment”; he might easily have arranged for
private performances by musicians in others’ employ.The few references to musicians
in his own service therefore cannot be the documentary basis for a thesis about the
full range of private musical experiences he might have enjoyed as cardinal. On the
other hand, he evidently did exercise some preferences as to the musicians who were
to be his regular employees on continuing appointment, and they do suggest something about his musical tastes. No matter how wealthy, an individual Italian cardinal
of the late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries who was inclined to maintain a
household musical retinue would necessarily have exercised a choice among options
— and, indeed, in Book XI of the Storia d’Italia, Francesco Guicciardini reported that
Piero Soderini, Florentine gonfaloniere a vita, had characterized the Medici as “very
reduced in means” in 1512, which further substantiates the argument I am advancing
42 “Uno poeta neapolitano sta cum el papa, nominato el Querno, servitor del ducha de Hadri […]
N.S. […] me disse che questo Querno faceva boni versi, […] cum sit che il giorno di Cosmo e
Damiano, che fu alli 27 del passato, fu vestito da Venere cum dui Cupidini e recitò un quaderno de
versi. El papa ge dà 100 ducati. de provisione et lo hanno posto in rotulo cum 150 fiorini de stipendio
alla lectura de le feste et fa la oracione del studio. El papa lo fa manzare in su uno schabelletto basso alla
presentia sua et inanci ch’el manza ogne [vivanda?] canta sei versi de diversa sententia”. ALESSANDRO
LUZIO, “Federico Gonzaga ostaggio alla corte di Giulio II”, Archivio della R[eale] Società di Storia Patria,
IX, 1886, pp. 509–582: 575–576.
43 PAOLO GIOVIO, Elogia doctorum virorum ab avorum memoria publicatis ingenij monumentis illustrium […],
Basel, n.p., [1561?], translated as An Italian portrait gallery, being brief biographies of scholars illustrious […],
trans. Florence Alden Gragg, Boston, Chapman & Grimes, 1935, pp. 117–118.
44 In AMATI, “Spese private di Leone X”, p. 247, there are references to Querno that furnish his
full name and detail the payments: “Adi 27 di luglio MDXIX. E piu adì 28 a uno archipoeta napolitano
ducati quindici […] Adì 16 di agosto MDXIX. A messer. Camillo Querno de Monopoli archipoeta duc.
ventisepte per sua provisione a ragione di 9 duc. el mese cominciando adì p.o di septembre proximo
[…] Adì 10 de octobre MDXIX. E piu al archipoeta per sua provisione di dicembre, gennaro et febraro
duc. 27 […] Adì 27 marzo 1520. A mes. Camillo Querno archipoeta duc. ventisepte per sua provisione
di marzo aprile et magio”.
here — and in assembling his own retinue a Renaissance cardinal would thus employ
musicians whose specific professional abilities reflected his own more circumscribed
tastes and interests. Leo’s family had made a practice of retaining musicians from the
public ecclesiastic institutions of Florence on occasions when expertise in the performance of sacred polyphony was demanded; Cardinal Giovanni might have followed
a similar practice in periodically engaging the services of musicians in the private
employ of fellow cardinals, of other members of his family, or of Florentine or Roman
ecclesiastical institutions, thus avoiding the expense of continuously maintaining such
musicians “on staff ”. For his own permanent household, he seems instead to have
preferred instrumentalists and solo singers, improvvisatori who accompanied themselves
on the lute or viol. Such a choice was not only appropriate to such private purposes; it
was financially prudent, since it afforded performance, in an intimate setting, of musical works that were modest in scale: instrumentally-accompanied solo vocal pieces,
which constituted a “free-standing”, “self-contained” musical enterprise, sustainable
without the exorbitant expense that would otherwise have been incurred had other
repertories requiring more elaborate performing resources been favored instead.
If my inferences are correct, they suggest that Leo was a dutiful and enthusiastic
legatee of his Florentine cultural inheritance, since the practice of solo song to string
accompaniment was of extreme importance to Florentine musical experience of
the late Quattrocento. Leo’s father Lorenzo il Magnifico and his older brother Piero
themselves both sang to string accompaniment, and both had renowned solo singerimprovisors in their employ; Leo’s younger brother Giuliano was an intimate of the
famous solo singer-improvisor Serafino Aquilano.45 Such practices were thus fixtures
of Leo’s youthful musical experiences, and he cannot have helped but absorb such
powerful influences.
4) Cardinal Giovanni’s activity as composer during his cardinalate is attested by
at least one work, the five-voice chanson Cela sans plus,46 which is attributed to the
“gardinale [sic] di Medici” in the index to the manuscript Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Magliabechi XIX.107bis.47 Evidence of his compositional abilities
and activity is substantiated by other such witnesses, such as the three-voice canon
45 Some representative references are assembled in ANTHONY M. CUMMINGS, The politicized muse: Music
for Medici festivals, 1512–1537, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1992, pp. 37, 39, 184–185 nn.
42–44, and elsewhere.
46 Entered as Zelans emplus and attributed to “Io. C.C. de Medicis Leo pape decimus” in the
Codex Pernner, Regensburg, Bibliothek Proske. It is also transmitted as no. 105 in the manuscript
Basel, Bibliothek der Universität, F.X. and in a fragmentary state as no. 203 in the manuscript
Stifts-Bibliothek St. Gallen 463, the Liederbuch of Ægidius Tschudi. See FREY, “Leo X”, col. 620, NINO
PIRROTTA, “Istituzioni musicali nella Firenze dei Medici”, Firenze e la Toscana dei Medici nell’Europa del
’500, Florence, Olschki, 1983, pp. 37–54: 43, and FRANZ-XAVER HABERL, “Eine Komposition des Cardinals Jo. de Medicis […]”, Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, III, 1888, pp. 39–43. On the association with
Leo as cardinal, see the following note.
47 JOSHUA RIFKIN, “Scribal concordances for some Renaissance manuscripts in Florentine libraries”,
Journal of the American Musicological Society, XXVI, 1973, pp. 305–326: p. 312 n. 25.
specifically attributed to him in the manuscript Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale 431
(and possibly also the four-voice canon that forms a sequel to it),48 and, perhaps, the
motet Spem in alium, which bears a partially-erased composer ascription to “Leo papa
X” in the manuscript Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, II.I.232.49 These compositions suggest a conversance with polyphony and polyphonic composition, and
suggest that Cardinal Giovanni’s musical tastes were by no means limited to the solo
singing of the improvvisatori; one would have drawn this latter inference in any event
from the evidence of his papal patronage practices, which manifest a special interest
in the polyphonic practices of the Cappella Sistina.
5) There is an abundance of evidence that attests Leo’s interest in music manuscripts, in their copying, and in collecting them, among them the reference from
October, 1513, where Giuliano de’ Medici, the pope’s younger brother, requests
of their nephew Lorenzo — then the family’s principal representative in Florence
— that he, at the pope’s behest, send “certain of my music books that remain there”,
to which Lorenzo responded as follows: “As for the music which Your Lordship
says His Holiness wishes, I have ordered them put together […]”50 m) There is
one reference from Leo’s cardinalate to a music manuscript in his possession, and
an extraordinarily important one at that: the famous Squarcialupi codex, the most
lavish and comprehensive document preserving the musical repertory of the Italian
Trecento. The manuscript’s inscription suggests its ownership by Giuliano de’ Medici
and its previous ownership by Giuliano’s older brother Giovanni.51 More generally,
Giovanni’s possession of the manuscript may document an interest in madrigal verse
and in polyphonic settings of Italian poetry.
One sees, then, a range of references testifying to a general delight in music-making and to fraternizing with musicians, to Leo’s own musical abilities and accomplishments (as performer and — interestingly — as composer), to musicians in the
cardinal’s employ who exemplify a particular musical “profile” and may therefore
evince an interest specifically in solo singing to string accompaniment, and to the
possession of music manuscripts. Most of these references may be presumed to be
representative of others no longer extant, and as such may be said to be suggestive of
their general categories of evidence; altogether, they depict a wealthy music patron
48 PIRROTTA, “Istituzioni musicali nella Firenze dei Medici”, p. 43, n. 23. On the manuscript source,
see ALLAN W. ATLAS, “On the Neapolitan provenance of the manuscript Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale
Augusta, 431 (G.20)”, Musica disciplina, XXXI, 1977, pp. 46–105: 80 (“Canon de papa Leone x a tre” and
“Canon a quattro”), and 102 (“Canon di papa Lione x a 3 voci”).
49 See CUMMINGS, “A Florentine sacred repertory from the Medici restoration […]”, pp. 277, 318.
50 See ANTHONY M. CUMMINGS, “Medici musical patronage in the early sixteenth century. New
perspectives”, Studi musicali, X, 1981, pp. 197–216: 205.
51 “Si rmo carli de Medicis organa Antonij Squarcialupi avi mei grata extitere: non minoris puto fore
librum hunc Juliano fratri suo optimo. Vade igitur liber, & in eiusdem bibliothecam te confer meque &
meos sibi & familie sue commendam […]”. See Der Squarcialupi Codex, ed. Johannes Wolf, Lippstadt,
Fr. Kistner & C.F.W. Siegel, 1955, unpaginated introduction.
with personal musical accomplishments to his credit, who collects music manuscripts
and retains performers on continuing appointment. All of the conditions necessary
and sufficient to a viable musical establishment, however modest, are therefore attested by the references, and they suggest that Cardinal Giovanni supported an infrastructure capable of affording him satisfying musical experiences and of serving his
refined musical interests. In the mind’s eye, one envisions the cardinal in his Palazzi
Ottieri and Madama, enjoying their amenities, consulting his music manuscripts and
exercising his considerable musical knowledge in responding to communications
received containing compositions for his evaluation, his renowned library crowded
with letterati, his residence more generally frequented by musicians, often solo singers
who accompanied themselves on the lute or viol, sometimes other musicians, who
avail themselves when necessary of the music manuscripts in the cardinal’s library, the
rotund and jovial cardinal periodically joining them in vocal performance.
The restoration of the Medici to Florence and Leo’s subsequent election to the
papacy, which followed so soon thereafter, had the effect of liberating him to pursue
his musical interests on the most lavish scale then imaginable. It afforded him access to
the almost unsurpassed material resources of the papacy and the essentially unrivalled
infrastructure of papal musical patronage. It liberated him in the further sense that the
pope was permitted certain kinds of behavior that would have been inappropriate
— even risky — for the members of his family who preceded him. In “republican”
Florence, overt, visible, extravagant, “pseudo-aristocratic” behavior — like that typifying the activities of the noble courts of northern Italy or the Kingdom of Naples
— would have offended the vestigial republican sensibilities of late-Quattrocento
Florence, and Leo’s father Lorenzo il Magnifico had to act with exquisite circumspection; it was a nuance that seems to have eluded the intellectual grasp of Giovanni’s
politically-clumsy older brother Piero. Leo’s election freed him, since the pope was
subject to no such strictures; as pontiff, he was entitled — indeed, expected — to
behave in ways appropriate to the papal “maestà”. For a cardinal with Giovanni de’
Medici’s passion for music, the prospect must have been elysian.
2. Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici and the putti cantori
After the Sack of Rome in 1527, the papal singer Jean Conseil was dispatched to
northern Europe in search of singers to restaff the depleted Cappella Sistina.52 Cardinal Giovanni Salviati — papal legate to France — reported on Conseil’s progress
in a series of fascinating and informative letters to his father Jacopo, Pope Clement
52 On Conseil’s journey and Clement’s epistolary efforts undertaken to ensure its success (August
21, 1528, one letter to the archbishop of Bourges and another to the Deacon and Chapter of Cambrai,
recommending Conseil, cleric of Paris and “cubicularius noster”, who was sent in search of singers; Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Arm. XL, vol. 22, n.o 619), 620, see also JOSÉ M. LLORENS, “Cristóbal de Morales,
cantor en la Capilla Pontificia de Paulo III (1535–1545)”, Anuario musical, VIII, 1953, pp. 39–69: 41–42.
confidant and private secretary, and husband of Leo X’s sister. Among Conseil’s
particular objectives was to identify, and secure the services of, “putti cantori”: boy
singers, whose special vocal qualities seem to have been unusually favored in Clementine Rome.
Maestro Giovanni Consiglion already found some singers for His Holiness’ chapel.
Thereafter he went to Flanders to find some others of them, and I had him given 100
ducats of the 500 that Your Lordship had remitted to me. I am working on providing
us the “putti”, and the Monsignor of Bourges told me that in any case I shall have
them. If it is necessary, I shall speak of it to the King, who, I know, will in any case
grant me one of them for His Holiness.53
Maestro Giovanni Consiglion has brought five or six good Tenors from Flanders
and among others an excellent adult male soprano and a good Bass, and he has found
a good tenor here; I am working on getting some “putti”, and I believe I shall have
them in any case, although the Chancellor Ant[onio] Duprat [archbishop of Sens and
shortly thereafter cardinal] had taken one of them from me, whom I had lost; I believe
I shall have them, either from the King or through the agency of the Monsignor of
Within two days, Maestro Giovanni will depart with the Singers, and “putti” cannot
be had, because the Chancellor has taken one of them from me, whom I had intended
having; and not only did he not want to give him to me for His Holiness, but he did
not even want to write a letter to Meaux about it in order to have another of them.55
Maestro Giovanni has departed, and he is bringing all the Singers, and in addition a
“putto” who has lost his way and has been kidnapped, whom I have sent along, and he
sings quite well. Moreover, I have had a search undertaken in Flanders, where I know
Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Nunziatura di Francia, vol. I, p. 103, September 26, 1528, Paris, Cardinal Giovanni Salviati to Jacopo Salviati: “Maestro Giov. Consiglion ha già trovati certi cantori per la
capella di Nostro Signore. Dipoi è ito in Fiandra per trovarne delli altri et io li ho fatto dare 100 ducati
delli 500 che V. Signia mi fece rimettere. Son drieto a provvederci i putti e monsignor di Bourges mi
ha detto che li harò in ogni modo. Bisognando ne parlerò al re, il quale so che me ne concederà uno
in ogni modo per Sua Santità”. See FRANZ-XAVER HABERL, “Die römische ‘schola cantorum’ und die
päpstlichen Kapellsänger bis zur Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts“, ID., Bausteine für Musikgeschichte, Leipzig,
Breitkopf, 1888 (repr. 1971), vol. III, pp. 71–75: 72–73, n. 3.
54 Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Nunziatura di Francia, vol. I, p. 327, October 19, 1528, Cardinal Giovanni Salviati: “Maestro Giov. Consiglion ha menato da Fiandra cinque o sei buoni tenori et fra gli altri
un ottimo soprano di età et un buon contrabasso et qui ha trovato un buon tenore; sono drieto aver de
putti et credo li harò in ogni modo, benchè il cancelliere Ant. Duprat me n’hebbi levato uno, il quale
havevo scapito; penso d’havergli o dal re o per mezo di mons. di Bourges”. HABERL, “Die römische
‘schola cantorum’“, p. 73, n. 3.
55 Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Nunziatura di Francia, vol. I, p. 330, October 24, 1528, Cardinal Giovanni Salviati to Jacopo Salviati: “Maestro Giovanni si partirà co’ cantori fra due giorni, et putti non si
può havere, perché el cancelliere me ne ha tolto uno, che havevo disegniato; et non solo non me l’ha
voluto dare per Nostro Signore, ma non ha pure voluto scriverne una lettera a Meaux per haverne un
altro” see HABERL, “Die römische ‘schola cantorum’”, p. 73, n. 3.
there are some good “putti”, in order to have them, and I do hope that His Holiness
will be well-satisfied in this.56
The Chancellor certainly regretted that His Holiness had been written to about that
“putto” whom he did not want to give, and he apologizes profusely, promising to give
him to me, which I told him was unnecessary, I having sent His Holiness two better
ones and procured some others of them to bring with me.57
The “putti” were therefore obviously a matter of some importance to Cardinal
Salviati; indeed, the correspondence strongly suggests — despite the absence of the
confirmation presumably furnished by the (lost?) responses to the cardinal’s dispatches
— that it had been mandated that Salviati was to secure the services of at least one
“putto”. Chancellor Duprat’s abject expression of concern that he might have failed
to fulfill the pope’s wishes in this respect is a further measure of the urgency of this
matter in the Rome of Clement VII, the compromised position of the pope in the
post-Sack era notwithstanding. Within weeks of the last of Salviati’s dispatches to
his father (December 14, 1528), the “putti” had entered papal service. On January
2, 1529, there begins an extraordinarily full and revealing series of touching entries
in the papal accounts: numerous expenses — painstakingly recorded — which were
incurred in order to clothe “three French putti” in coats and frocks, red berets, wool
stockings, shirts, shoes, and so on. The entries continue through mid-August, 1529;58
they attest an effort to ensure that the new additions to the papal musical establishment were appropriately provided for in a material sense, lavishly clothed so as to be
a sartorially-splendid presence in the papal musical establishment.
These references have been known since they were published by Haberl and
Bragard. What seems not to have been fully appreciated heretofore is that Clement’s
personal interest in “putti” was so pronounced, and of such long duration. From the
very beginnings of the pontificate of his first cousin Leo X, Clement (then Cardinal
Giulio de’ Medici) seems to have been delegated — and to have assumed and exercised — particular responsibility for maintaining the complement of boy singers in
Leonine Rome at “full strength”.
56 Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Nunziatura di Francia, vol. I, p. 337, November 9, 1528, to Jacopo
Salviati: “Maestro Giovanni è partito et mena tutti i cantori et più un putto che si è sviato e rubato,
quale gl’ho mandato drieto et canta assai bene. Oltre ho fatto cercare in Fiandra, dove so che sono dei
buoni putti, per avergli, et spero che Nostro Signore in questo sarà bene satisfatto”. See HABERL, “Die
römische ‘schola cantorum’“, p. 73, n. 3.
57 Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Nunziatura di Francia, vol. I, p. 342, December 14, 1528, Cardinal
Giovanni Salviati: “Essi [the Cardinal-Chancellor Antonio Duprat] doluto assai, che a Nostro Sign. sia
stato scritto di quel putto, che non volle dare, e se ne scusa forte promettendome di darmelo; el che io
li lo detto non esser necessario havendone io mandati due migliori a Sua Santità et provistone delli altri
per menarli con meco”. See HABERL, “Die römische ‘schola cantorum’“, p. 73, n. 3.
58 ANNE-MARIE BRAGARD, «Détails nouveaux sur les musiciens de la cour du Clément VII», Revue
belge de musicologie, XII, 1958, pp. 5–18: 14 nn. 3–4, 15 nn. 1–7.
As early as December 1513, less than a year after Leo’s election, it was ordered that
there be 200 gold ducats given to “Bernardo Verazano” and “Bonacursio Rucellay”
“pro expensis puerorum cantorum”, the earliest-known of the expenses incurred
during Leo’s pontificate for the recruitment of “putti cantori” and the maintenance
of a cohort of boy sopranos.59 In May of 1514, the names of three boys are listed in
the famous ruolo of the papal court,60 which testifies to the fact that the recruitment
efforts had indeed been successful. Thereafter, scarcely a document is issued relating
to the “putti” that is not authored either by Cardinal Giulio himself or by those acting overtly and explicitly on his behalf; in sum, the relevant texts evidently attest a
particular interest in the “putti cantori” on the part of Giulio de’ Medici. The documents from after the Sack thus fit tidily into a wider and longer context and are only
the final chronological witnesses to a Medicean proclivity for the vocal abilities of
boy singers.
The most renowned of the Leonine “putti” was Jean Conseil, himself one of those
received into the papal musical establishment at the beginning of Leo’s pontificate and
who thereafter was dispatched (after the Sack) to seek new “putti”, as we have seen.
As a former “putto” himself, Conseil would have been unusually well-positioned to
exploit personal associations and experiences in recruiting future French putti, like
matriculants at American colleges and universities who serve the admission office
at their institutions as interns and return to their secondary schools to recruit future
prospective students. Conseil’s association with Clement commenced long before he
passed from the Leonine to the Clementine musical establishment. In August of 1517,
the papal secretary Pietro Bembo wrote to François Ier on Leo’s behalf, recommending
Conseil for a canonicate at the Sainte Chapelle;61 Bembo’s own letter followed upon
59 Intr. et Ex. 551, f. 163, December 24, 1513; see FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle“, VIII, p.
180 n. 49. By means of a mandatum of that date, the 200 gold ducats were to be disbursed on January 7,
1514, “pro totidem, quos Robertus de Nayolo florentinus de commissione S.D.N. solvi fecit in Francia
Carpentrayo musico pro expensis puerorum cantorum e Francia Romam usque”.
60 “Rottulus 1. madij 1514…Famuli D. Elziarius Genetti, maestro di cappella / […] Cantores Parvi
/ Ioannes du Consul / Hylario Penet Parisiensis et Pictaviensi dioc. / Petrus de Monchiaron de Parisio». See FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 33. The role of Genet (Carpentras) in both securing
the services of the “putti” and subsequently providing for them materially in Rome is attested by the
December 24, 1513, and May 1, 1514 documents.
61 Paris, Archives Nationales, L. 357, II, n.o 44: “Carissimo in Christo filio nostro Francisco Francorum
regi christianissimo. / Recommendatio 3. aoust 1517. / — LEO. PP.a X. — / Charissime in Christo fili
noster. salutem et apostolicam benedictionem. / Joannes Cunsel parisiensis unus est ex ijs pueris cantoribus
quos clarae memoriae Aloisius rex predecessor tuus superioribus annis ad nos misit, qui, quoniam et sua
arte, in qua multum quotidie proficit, et grato in nos servitio dignus est commendatione et premio.
Nulli magis visum est nobis tradere eum honestandum quam maiestati tuæ. Quare rogamus summopere, ut de primo canonicatu sanctæ capellæ parisiensis quae patria ipsius est, et cuius capellæ collatio
ad eam spectat, eidem Joanni providere dignetur. Nam nec melioris indolis iuveni, nec personæ magis
nobis acceptæ, tale beneficium conferre posset maiestas tua. In quo nobis faciet rem gratissiman. Datum Romæ apud sanctum Petrum, sub annulo Piscatoris, Die IIIa. Augusti .M.D.XVIIo. pontificatus nostri
anno quinto. / Bembus”. See HERMAN-WALTHER FREY; “Michelagniolo und die Komponisten seiner
Madrigale: Bartolomeo Tromboncino, Jean Conseil, Costanzo Festa, Jakob Arcadelt”, Acta musicologica,
XXIV, pp. 147–197: 161 n. 59.
— and thereby lent considerable additional ecclesiastical authority to — an earlier
letter sent explicitly at Cardinal Giulio’s behest on precisely the same matter:62
In the name of the Cardinal de’ Medici. Among the “putti musici” that King Louis
of bright memory sent to His Holiness is a maestro Ianni [Conseil], whom His Holiness would like to see receive a canonicate at Nôtre Dame of Paris, […] and with this
will be a breve to Your Lordship on this matter. Since he is a young virtuoso, help him
with whatever you can.
Four texts from 1517 and thereafter document — significantly — that Conseil was
also a familiaris of Cardinal Giulio, a resident of his household in addition to being
the subject of one of the cardinal’s letters of recommendation.63
The second and third of the “putti” assumed into the Leonine establishment in
1514 were “Hylario Penet”64 and “Petrus de Monchiaron de Parisio”. However,
62 See [CESARE GUASTI] “I manoscritti donati al R. Archivio Centrale di Stato di Firenze”, Archivio
storico italiano, s. III, XX, 1874, pp. 367ff., especially p. 372; the editorial annotation reads as follows:
“Registro di lettere scritte in nome del cardinale Giulio de’ Medici, dal 16 di gennaio al 24 di maggio
1516. Un quaderno, di carte 51, quattro delle quali son bianche; autografo. Sulla prima carta sta scritto:
‘Registro cominciato a dì 16 di gennaio et finito a’ 24 di maggio 1517.’ È la corrispondenza del cardinale
co’ nunzii presso la corte di Francia e presso gli Svizzeri”. February 1, 1517: “Episcopo Baiocensi et
domino Latino. Nomine cardinalis de Medicis. Fra li putti musici che mandò a N.S. la clara memoria
del re Luigi, è uno maestro Ianni [i.e., Conseil], al quale Sua Santità desiderebbe che pervenisse un
canonicato di Nostra Dama di Paris, che ha un fratello del gran cancelliero; et con questa sarà un breve
per questo conto a Sua Signoria. Perchè è giovane virtuoso, adiutatelo in quello che potete”.
63 March 4, 1517: “Iohanni de Conseil familiari suo, qui magistri Iulii S. Marie in Domnica diaconi
cardinalis S. Romane ecclesie vicecancellarii obsequiis insistendo etiam continuus commensalis existit,
canonicatum et prebendam ecclesie Gebennensis per obitum Philiberti de Bona vacantes confert”; FREY,
“Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, 1955, pp. 180–81. 1517: Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Registri delle
suppliche, 1598, f. 218v, unpublished reference that documents Conseil as a member of Giulio’s household;
for this reference, I am grateful to Professor Richard Sherr. January 11, 1520: “Iohanni du Conseil clerico
Parisiensi, qui Iulii tituli S. Laurentii in Damaso presbyteris cardinalis S. Romane ecclesie vicecancellarii
obsequiis insistendo etiam continuus commensalis suus existit, prioratum beate Marie loci de Gollelhassio
ordinis S. Augustini senecensis diocesis confert”; FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, p. 181.
April 9, 1521: “Iohanni du Conseil familiari suo, qui Iulii tituli S. Laurentii in Damaso presbyteris cardinalis S. Romane ecclesie vicecancellarii obsequiis insistendo etiam continuus commensalis et, ut asserit,
in XXIIII vel circa sue etatis anno constitutus existit, canonicatum et prebendam ecclesie S. Stephani de
Vico ac parr. ecclesiam S. Bartholomei de Semibesengia locorum mettensis diocesis certo modo vacantes,
quorum insimul fructus quadraginta ducatorum auri de camera valorem annuum non excedunt, confert”;
FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, p. 181. A further important reference documenting Conseil’s association with Cardinal Giulio — a papal bull of April 9, 1521, from Leo to Conseil — is in FREY,
“Michelagniolo und die Komponisten seiner Madrigale”, p. 160: “[…] Tibi, quj dilecti filij nostri Julij
tituli. Sancti Laurentij in Damaso presbyteri [sic] cardinalis Sancte Romane Ecclesie vicecancellaij obseqijs
jnsistendo etiam continuus commensalis noster et, ut asseris, in XXIIJo. vel circa tue etatis anno constitutus
existis, premissorum obsequiorum et meritorum tuorum intuitu specialem gratiam facere volentes […]”.
On Conseil’s career in Leonine and Clementine Rome subsequent to his entry into the papal musical
establishment, see FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, pp. 180–181, and, above all, FREY, “Michelagniolo und die Komponisten seiner Madrigale”, pp. 160–165.
64On Penet’s subsequent career in the papal chapel and as a “musico segreto”, see FREY, “Regesten
zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, pp. 178, 420–421.
Monchiaron died within months of his entry into the papal musical establishment,
and once again, it is Cardinal Giulio who figures in the correspondence documenting
efforts to replace Monchiaron immediately with another French “putto”. The first of
the relevant texts is a letter to Cardinal Alfonso Petrucci of Siena, written on Giulio’s
behalf by Pietro Bembo.65 Several months later, Cardinal Giulio himself wrote in
response to a communication he had received concerning an offer made by the king
of France to furnish the papal establishment with “putti musici”:66
We have received yours and have understood the diligent office that you,
Monsignor, had undertaken in presenting His Holiness’s mules to His Majesty, and
how welcome they were to him. And with respect to the offer that he made you of
“putti musici”, and of the cloths for the hunt, they were very agreeable to His Holiness;
and whenever it should not be inconvenient for His Majesty, one or two of the said
“putti” of the sort you write about will be most dear.
How does one interpret such documents? One sees, first, an initial recruitment
effort in 1513 that resulted in the enlistment of Conseil, Monchiaron, and Penet in
1514. Upon Monchiaron’s death, it is manifestly Cardinal Giulio who figures prominently in the 1514 correspondence issued in an attempt to replace Monchiaron as
soon thereafter as was practicable. There then follows a four-year interval before the
next known documentation attesting efforts to maintain the full complement of three
boy singers (during which time Conseil has entered Giulio’s household). Why the
interval? As Professor Richard Sherr has correctly observed,67 boy singers mature, and
65 August 31, 1514: “Alfonso cardinali senesi. / scripsit ad te Iulius Medices cardinalis meis verbis,
velles ad me mittere eum puerum, que[m] habes Gallum musicæ artis peritum. Ex ijs enim, qnos [sic]
e Gallia accersivi, unus atque is quidem, qui peritior erat, voculaque blandiore ac flexibiliore præditus, mortem obijt. Eas literas cum tibi arbitrer redditas non fuisse: nihil enim ad illas adhuc quidem
respondisti: has ad te alteras literas dare volui, quibus item te hortarer, velles de puero illo sacra nostra
commodare: quibus in sacris tu quoque, cum huc veneris, pium honestumque oblectamentum capies.
Dat prid. cal. aug. anno secundo. Roma”. BEMBO, Epistolarum Leonis decimi, p. 213, bk. IX, letter 23.
Bembo’s letter fails to identify whom the newly-recruited “putto” would replace, but since Conseil
and Penet, obviously, are known to have survived, by process of elimination the deceased “putto” can
be assumed to be Monchiaron. On the efforts to secure the services of Petrucci’s boy, see also FREY,
“Leo X”, col. 621.
66 Florence, Archivio di Stato, Archivio Mediceo, Strozziana appendice filza 1, November 19, 1514,
Cardinal Giulio, Rome: “Aviamo ricevuto la vostra e inteso il diligente officio che voi, monsignore,
avevi fatto in presentare le mule di nostro signore a quella maestà e quanto gli furono accette. E, circa la
offerta che essa vi ha fatto di putti musici e delle tele per caccia, sono tute molto grate a Sua Santità; e,
quando sia senza incomodo di Sua Maestà, uno o due di detti putti della sorte che voi scrivete saranno
carissimi”. Négociations diplomatique de la France avec la Toscane, documents recueillis par Giuseppe Canestrini et publiés par Abel Desjardins, tome II, Paris, Imprimerie impériale, 1861, p. 666ff. are devoted
to «extraits de la correspondance du cardinal Jules de Médicis et de Julien de Médicis avec l’éveque de
Tricarico et Francesco Pandolfini». The editorial annotation reads «Nous avons extrait de la correspondance du cardinal Jules de Médicis les dépêches qui nous ont paru jeter quelque lumière sur la politique
de la cour de Rome dans ses rapports avec la France, et qui nous permettent d’apprécier le caractère
du cardinal qui sera Clément VII».
67 “Clement VII and the Golden Age of the Papal Choir”, The pontificate of Clement VII. History,
politics, culture, ed. Kenneth Gouwens and Sheryl Reiss, Ashgate, forthcoming, first delivered at the
2000 meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Florence.
their voices change, thus necessitating regular, periodic activity in order to “replenish
the supply”. In 1518, therefore, there is a new “recruitment campaign”, and once again
Cardinal Giulio — by now predictably — is the active agent. The request made in
1518 of the famed Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena in France is for three “putti” specifically, which suggests that by that time Conseil’s and Penet’s voices also had broken:
Reverendissimo Sanctæ Mariæ in Porticu. Nomine Vicecancelarij [i.e., Giulio de’ Medici].
His Holiness wishes that Your Most Reverend Lordship undertake with the chapelmaster of the Most Christian King to have three “putti cantori”, of the age and voice
type that you will see by means of a memoriale that will be enclosed with this, which
Carpentras gave me. And should it be necessary to speak to His Majesty about it, undertake that office as and when it seems best to you, in His Holiness’s name.68
And the (apparent) response to Giulio (and his nephew Lorenzo di Piero): “Madama [i.e., the King’s mother] has undertaken the task of finding (and sending to His
Holiness) the three ‘putti musici’, according to Carpentras’ note”.69
As with the earliest references attesting efforts to secure “putti” for the Leonine
establishment,70 these texts from 1518 document Carpentras’ role in the recruitment
activities. Assuming that the recruitment campaign of 1518 were successful, one of
its results may have been the presence in the papal musical establishment of Petrus
Pirrinus, a fourteen-year old in 1520, closely associated, once again, with the Leonine
chapelmaster Elzear Genet (Carpentras).71
What place did these French boy singers have in Leonine and Clementine Rome?
Specifically, what musical role did they play? Various scholars have commented upon
a rubric — “secundus puer”, or “second boy” — entered into a music manuscript
68 Registro di lettere scritto in nome del Cardinale Giulio de’ Medici, dal dì 19 di luglio al 3 di ottobre, 1518, September 4, 1518, Giulio to Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena: “Reverendissimo Sanctæ Mariæ
in Porticu. Nomine Vicecancelarij / N.S. desidera che V.S. Reverendissima facci opera col maestro di
capella del Cristianissimo di havere tre putti cantori, de la età et voce che la vedrà per un memoriale che
sarà in questa, che mi ha dato Carpentrasse. Et quando bisognasse parlarne a Sua Maestà, fate l’offitio
come et quando meglio vi parerà, pure in nome di Sua Beatitudine”. CESARE GUASTI, “I manoscritti
Torrigiani donati al R. Archivio Centrale di Stato”, Archivio storico italiano, s. III, XXIV, 1876, p. 10.
69 July 18, 1518, Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, Ansenis, to Giulio and Lorenzo: “Madama ha preso
l’assunto di trovare et di mandare a Nostro Signore i tre putti musici, secondo la nota di Carpentrasse”.
GIUSEPPE LORENZO MONCALLERO, Epistolario di Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, 2 vols., Florence, Olschki,
1955–1965 (Biblioteca dell’Archivum Romanicum, 44, 81), vol. II, p. 127. I cannot explain the curious
anomaly that Bibbiena’s letter to Cardinal Giulio, dated July 18, 1518, seems to be a response to Cardinal Giulio’s letter to Bibbiena, dated September 4, 1518. In many cases, such matters are the subject
of multiple communications, from and to multiple interested parties; it may be that Giulio wrote to
Bibbiena on this matter more than once, and that an accident of preservation resulted in our possessing
Bibbiena’s response to Giulio’s first letter, and Giulio’s second, subsequent communication on the same
70 FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 33.
71 FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, VIII, p. 194, and IX, p. 50. See also BLACKBURN, “Music
and festivities at the court of Leo X”, p. 6 and n. 12.
copied for Pope Leo X,72 which suggests that one of the topmost melodic lines in
a six-voice polyphonic vocal complex may have been executed by a boy singer.
Christopher Reynolds, for example, interprets a depiction of a service in the Sistine
Chapel — where three boys, apparently, stand before the lectern where the music
books are placed — as evidence that boys sang with the cappella papale; he relates the
evidence of the woodcut to some of the texts assembled here, and to the rubric in
the manuscript copied for Leo X.73 With respect to the rubric, Reynolds’ source is a
characteristically-nuanced discussion by David Fallows,74 who observes that during
the lifetime of the composer Josquin Desprez (died 1521), “the papal chapel appears
to have had no boys”,75 carefully qualifying his statement with a reference to two
bits of equivocal evidence — one of them the “secundus puer” rubric — which
seem to contradict this prevailing assumption about the staffing of the cappella papale.
However, Fallows observes that the rubric, which appears in the opening movement
of Heinrich Isaac’s Missa Paschale in manuscript Cappella Sistina 160, is replaced in
other contemporary sources for the mass with the more common rubric “secundus
discantus”, or “second soprano part”, which raises no such bedeviling questions about
the actual personnel potentially involved in executing the part.
One of the most well-informed of students of the musical practices of the papal
chapel, Richard Sherr, has uncovered no documentary evidence for the presence of
boys in the cappella papale; indeed, Sherr’s writings are the source for Fallows’ statements to that effect.76 Sherr himself suggests that the musical talents of the putti can72 Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cappella Sistina 160; on the manuscript and the
evidence that it was prepared for Leo X, see HERBERT KELLMAN, “Josquin and the courts of the Netherlands and France: The evidence of the sources”, Josquin des Prez: Proceedings of the international Josquin
festival-conference held at the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center in New York City (21–25 June 1971), ed.
Edward E. Lowinsky and Bonnie J. Blackburn, London — New York, Oxford University Press, 1976,
pp. 181–216: 212. On the specific work bearing the notation, see HEINRICH ISAAC, Opera Omnia, ed.
Edward R. Lerner, n.p., American Institute of Musicology, 1974 (Corpus mensurabilis musicæ, LXV),
vol. I, pp. 1–10. As Professor Sherr reminds me, Ms. Cappella Sistina 160 was not prepared in Rome,
and the scribe — not knowing or caring whether the Cappella Papale actually employed boys — simply
replicated what was in his exemplar.
73 CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, “Rome: a city of rich contrasts”, The Renaissance, from the 1470s to the
end of the 16th century, ed. Iain Fenlon, Basingstoke – London, Granada Group – Macmillan, 1989, pp.
63–101: 77–79; the woodcut is reproduced, and readily available, there. However one interprets the
‘historicity’ of the woodcut — its accuracy as an ‘historical’ document — it dates from 1578, and is thus
considerably later than the matters under consideration.
74 DAVID FALLOWS, “The performing ensembles in Josquin’s sacred music”, Tijdschrift van de Vereniging
voor Nederlandse muziekgeschiedenis, XXXV, 1985, pp. 32–64: 44–45, 54–61. On the entire matter of the
use of boy singers, see also DAVID FALLOWS’ customarily excellent article, “Specific information on the
ensembles for composed polyphony, 1400–1474”, Studies in the performance of Late mediaeval music, ed.
Stanley Boorman, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983, pp. 109–144.
75 FALLOWS, “The performing ensembles”, pp. 44–45: “the papal chapel […], according to all available
information, had no boys at the time”.
76In addition to the material Fallows cites, see also RICHARD SHERR, “Music and the Renaissance
papacy: The papal choir and the fondo Cappella Sistina”, Rome reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance
culture, ed. Anthony Grafton, New Haven – Washington – Vatican City, Yale University Press – Library
of Congress – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1993, pp. 199–223, 302–303, nn. 1–18, especially p. 302
tori may have been deployed in other ways and in other contexts. In a forthcoming
paper,77 Professor Sherr cites the evidence of a letter written on the pope’s behalf in
January of 1525 by his adviser Gian Matteo Giberti, formerly bishop of Tivoli and
papal datary as of 1524. The recipient, the Cardinal of Liège, is requested to furnish
two men for the papal chapel and three boys for the pope’s chamber, the musica segreta.
Sherr invokes evidence (that summarized above) that — notwithstanding that fact that
the cappella papale did not admit boys — Clement nonetheless emulated his cousin
Leo in recruiting French “putti cantori”, who in the case of the Leonine musical
establishment were housed with his maestro di cappella, Carpentras. Sherr persuasively
argues that “while some of the boys might (like Conseil) eventually have entered the
papal chapel, it is not clear that Leo and Clement intended to recruit and train them
for that purpose. In fact, there was another organization, the Cappella Giulia, which
was supposed to perform that function”.
The evidence of Gilberti’s 1525 letter, newly-introduced by Sherr, combined with
several references in private Leonine accounts to payments for performances by a
“m.o Philippo cantorino” and an otherwise unidentified “putto trombettier”,78 suggests that the boys may indeed have been employed in private musical performances
in Leonine and Clementine Rome, rather than in the cappella papale, notwithstanding
the (ambiguous) evidence of the woodcut and the “secundus puer” rubric.
As for the recruitment of the putti in France specifically, that particular practice
might be explained by the comparative absence in Italy at this period (relative to
France, that is) of institutions where young boys could acquire the full range of
musical training, including training in the performance of Franco-Netherlandish
polyphony, which was favored in Medicean Rome. It may be that these young boys
were provided for in an effort to interest them in an ecclesiastical career, for example,
thus ensuring a steady influx of able young men into the Church. It may also be
that the practice was nothing more than a means of fostering youthful talent, in a
society where many families, surely, would have been grateful for the kind of “merit
scholarship support” conferred on these boys on the basis of their manifest musical
The texts assembled here suggest an interest in varied vocal color in the musical
performance practices of Leonine and Clementine Rome, and a willingness to expend no little effort and capital in an attempt to provide for it.79
n. 7: “Although many choirs of the time used boys to sing the upper lines, this was not the case in
the papal choir”, and SHERR, “Clement VII and the golden age”, “the papal choir was the one musical
institution in Europe that did not employ boys”.
77 Graciously shared with me prior to its being delivered: SHERR, “Clement VII and the golden
78 See, for example, FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, IX, pp. 55, 143.
79 A reference from the Florentine branch of the Medici family suggests that the Leonine and Clementine interest in the vocal qualities of boy singers may have been broadly Medicean in origin rather
than Roman. Alessandro de’ Medici, first duke of Florence and rumored to be Cardinal Giulio’s illegitimate son, evidently had two “putti chantori” in his service. See Florence, Archivio di Stato, Carte
3. The musicians of Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici
“La sua corte era ripiena di letterati, di musici e di uomini eccellenti e famosi”80
Thus wrote an anonymous chronicler of Ippolito de’ Medici (1511–35), illegitimate son of Giuliano di Lorenzo de’ Medici, and Cardinal de’ Medici between 1529
and the year of his death. Cardinal Ippolito maintained an elaborate and extensive
household in the Campo Marzio in Rome, said to be staffed by some 300;81 he
demonstrably inherited his family’s refined aesthetic sensibilities and inclination toward patronage of artists, letterati, and musicians. Moreover, Ippolito was not only a
patron but a musician himself, specifically a versatile instrumentalist, to judge from
period testimony. In La prima parte delle vite overo fatti memorabili d’alcuni papi et di tutti
i cardinali passati, Girolamo Garimberto, vescovo di Gallese, recorded that “This rare
youth…was well established in humanistic letters and the liberal arts…and in a very
short period of time, which caused everyone to be astonished…by such ease, the ease
of innocence, which one still sees, as is also to be seen in his musical compositions, in
which he emerged unique in all the qualities of instruments that are to be played”.82
In the eulogy composed to be placed beneath Titian’s renowned portrait of Ippolito,
Paolo Giovio wrote of the famous painter’s famous subject:83
strozziane, I, 13, 3, f. 12r, July 8, 1535, “Nota delle boche di chasa di Sua Ex.tia, levata questo dì VIII di
luglio MDXXXV”; the index of the codex specifies “Nota de’ servidori e bocche del Duca Alessandro de’
Medici, 1535” in Tommaso di Carlo Strozzi’s handwriting: “– / Schudieri e ufiziali / — / — / Musici
/ Messer Antonio da Lucha_____bocche 2 […]. Dua putti chantori_____2 — [f. 12v] Somma in tutto,
chome si vede, bocche 216”. I am grateful for the transcription to Dott. Gino Corti.
80 “His court was full of letterati, musicians, and excellent and famous men”. Paris, Bibliothèque
Nationale, Fonds italiens, Ms. 342 (a sixteenth-century manuscript chronicle of the Medici family),
f. 102v; see H. COLIN SLIM, The keyboard ricercar and fantasia in Italy c. 1500–1550, Ph. D. diss., Harvard
University, 1960, pp. 170–173.
81 BRUTO AMANTE, Giulia Gonzaga, contessa di Fondi e il movimento religioso femminile nel secolo XVI,
Bologna, Zanichelli, 1896, p. 88.
82 “Qu esto raro giovane […] fosse bene instituito nelle lettere humane, e nell arti liberali, si come
fù; & in tanta brevità di tempo, che fece stupire ogn’uno […] con quella facilità e facilità di candore, che
ancor si vede; come si vedono ancora delle sue compositioni musicali, nelle quali in tutte le qualità de’
stromenti da sonare riuscì singolare”. GIROLAMO GARIMBERTO, La prima parte delle vite overo fatti memorabili
d’alcuni papi et di tutti i cardinali passati, Venice, Gabriel Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1567, p. 515. See SLIM, The
keyboard ricercar and fantasia in Italy,.p. 172.
83 PAOLO GIOVIO, Gli elogi. Vite brevemente scritte d’huomini illustri di guerra, antichi et moderni , Venice,
Giouanni de’ Rossi, 1557, f. 280r-v: “Tradusse il secondo libro dell’Eneide di Virgilio, in lingua Thoscana, & […] trasportò ancora i proloqui d’Hippocrate dall’arte della medicina, nell’uso della disciplina
di guerra. Ma non molto dapoi si rivolse dalle lettere a diligente studio di tutta la musica, intrattenendo
ogni eccellentissimo artefice & sonator di stormenti [sic], & col medesimo desiderio d’ardente ingegno,
s’essercitò tanto sottilmente in ogni qualità d’armonia, che ne riuscì dolcissimo sonator di liuto, artificioso ne’ violini, eccellente ne’ flauti, & incomparabile ne’ cornetti; tocava ancora gentilissimamente il
manacordo, & facendo diversissimi concenti d’armonia, con maravigliosa imitatione sonava cosi i nostri
tamburi, & le trombe, come le nacchere, & gli altri stormenti barbareschi, i quali sogliono risvegliare
gli animi alla guerra”. SLIM, The keyboard ricercar and fantasia in Italy”, p. 172; I have checked Slim’s transcription against the copy of Giovio’s book in the Chapin Library at Williams College.
He translated the second book of Virgil’s Æneid into Tuscan, and, moreover, he
redeployed the prologues of Hippocrates, from the practice of medicine toward their
application to the discipline of war. But not long thereafter he redirected himself from
letters toward the diligent study of all music, entertaining every excellent artist and
instrumentalist, and with the same exercise of his burning talent he drilled very carefully in every dimension of harmony, such that he emerged the gentlest lutenist, skilled
on the violins, excellent on the flutes, and incomparable on the cornets; moreover, he
would play the monochord most gently, and — making the most varied concordant
harmonies — he would, with marvelous imitation, thus play our [i.e., European] drums
and trumpets, just as he would also play the castanets and other “Barbaresco”84 instruments that provoke the soul to war.
Ippolito was the dedicatee of many, many important literary and musical works,
among them Agostino Ricchi’s renowned comedy I tre tiranni,85 whose text provides
occasions for music, and the Liber hymnorum usus Romanæ ecclesiæ86 of Elzear Genet,
mæstro di cappella to Ippolito’s uncle, Pope Leo X. A passage in Cosimo Bartoli’s Ragionamenti87 recounts that Ippolito was among those present in Rome on a famous
occasion in 1530 when Giulio Segni’s harpsichord playing silenced an urgent discussion, which thus furnishes more concrete testimony to Ippolito’s actual musical
One evening, the marchese of Vasto [Alfonso d’Avalos] having arrived in Rome,
and having gone immediately to Pope Clement with his spurs still on his feet, and
finding the pope at table, and after dinner having entered into a discussion of the most
important matters with the pope and [the papal secretary Giovanni Battista] Sanga,
the said Giulio [Segni] having appeared in an area of the room with an instrument, he
84 I.e., generally non-European, or more specifically North African (Berber), or generically Arabic
or Muslim; for assistance with this interpretation, I am grateful to my colleague Professor Richard J.
85 AGOSTINO RICCHI, Comedia […] intittolata i tre tiranni, recitata in Bologna a N. Signore, et a Cesare,
Il giorno de la commemoratione de la corona di sua maestà, Venice, Bernardino Vitali, 1533, p. Aij which
I consulted in the reprint (Bologna, Forni, 1981): “A lo illustriss. et reverendiss. signore Hippolito il
cardinal de Medici, Agostino Ricchi”.
86 Avignon: Jean de Channay, n. d.; see the dedication in ELZIARIJ GENETI, Opera omnia, ed. Albert
Seay, 5 vols., n. p., American Institute of Musicology, 1972–73 (Corpus mensurabilis musicæ, LVIII),
vol. III, pp. IX-XII.
87 See JAMES HAAR, “Cosimo Bartoli on music”, Early music history, VIII, 1988, pp. 37–79: 65.
88 “Una sera essendo il marchese del Vasto arrivato in poste in Roma, e subito con gli sproni ancora
in piede andato da papa Clemente; e trovatolo a tavola, e intrato dopo la cena in discorso con il papa
e con il Sanga di cose importantissime, il detto Julio essendo comparso in una parte della sala con uno
instrumento, cominciò di lontano a sonare di maniera, che quei duoi principi, insieme con il cardinale
de Medici, e con il Sanga che havevano a risolvere cose importantissime, pretermessono per alquanto
tali ragionamenti; e andarono ad udirlo sonare con una attentione maravigliosa”. Slim not implausibly
dates the incident to 1530 (assuming its historicity); see Musica nova accommodata per cantar et sonar sopra
organi; et altri strumenti, composta per diversi eccellentissimi musici. In Venetia, MDXL., ed. H. Colin Slim,
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1964, p. XXXIX, n. 12. Certainly, it had to have occurred between
1529, when Ippolito was made cardinal, and 1532, the date of Sanga’s death, assuming its historicity,
once again.
began to play from afar in such a manner that, together with Cardinal de’ Medici and
Sanga, those two princes — who had most important matters to resolve — instead
chose to forego some such discussion, and they went to hear Segni play with a marvelous attentiveness.
Other contemporary texts are more revealing and informative still, specifically with
respect to the identity of musicians actually in Ippolito’s service:
We shall not leave behind that lively and honored spirit, Cardinal Ippolito de’
Medici;…In his employ were singers and instrumentalists, the foremost in Italy and
perhaps elsewhere, among whom were Francesco da Milano, most gentle on the lute,
Giovan Battista Siciliano on the violone, and Lorenzo da Gaeta on the monochord;
and Ippolito used to sing and play each instrument very well.89
In the case of Francesco da Milano and Giovan Battista Siciliano, the information
Giovanni Andrea Gilio provides is substantiated by Bartoli (though, of course, one
cannot discount the possibility of an influence of one of the textual traditions on
the other).90 Bartoli and Gilio thus furnish precious information about the actual
musicians in Cardinal Ippolito’s employ. As it happens, we know a fair bit about the
performers whom Bartoli and Gilio identified.
Giovanni Battista Sansone detto “il Siciliano”
Giovanni Battista Sansone, who was subsequently an employee of Pope Paul III,91 is cited in a number of contemporary theoretical treatises, and invariably approvingly.“Messer
Joan Battista Cicilian” is featured prominently, for example, in Silvestro Ganassi’s Lettione
seconda pur della prattica di sonare il violone d’arco da tasti,92 where he and “Messer Alfonso
89 ANDREA GILIO, Due dialogi […], Camerino, A. Gioioso, 1564, ff. 6v-7r, which I consulted in the
reprint (Florence, SPES, 1986): “Non lasceremo adietro quel vivo, & honorato spirito de Hippolito cardinale de’ Medici […]. Hebbe musici di voce e di suoni i primi d’Italia, e forse di fuora, fra i quali fu
il gentilissimo Francesco milanese nel leuto, Giovan Battista Siciliano nel violone, e Lorenzo da Gaeta
nel manaccordo; & esso [Ippolito] cantaua, e sonava benissimo ogni istrumento”. For this important
reference, I am grateful to Dr. Julian Kliemann of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome.
90 “Have you ever heard ‘il Siciliano di viola’ play? Or Francesco di Milano on the lute or the viola?
When Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici of blessed memory was alive, those two were in the service of that
Lord”. COSIMO BARTOLI, Ragionamenti, in HAAR, “Cosimo Bartoli on music”, pp. 62–63: “havete voi mai
sentito sonare il Siciliano di viola? O Francesco da Milano di liuto o di viola ancora? […].[Q]uando la buona
memoria del cardinale Hippolito de Medici era viva, erano amenduoi al servizio di quel signore”.
91 See NINO PIRROTTA, “Rom”, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. XI, 1963, col. 705 (where
Pirrotta records that the pope purchased a cembalo from Sansone in 1537), and DOREZ, La cour du pape
Paul III, vol. I, p. 232. A reference to a “Battista Sansone siciliano musico” from 1540 appears in ANTONINO BERTOLOTTI, “Speserie segrete e pubbliche di Paolo III”, Atti e memorie delle R.R. Deputazioni di
Storia Patria per le Provincie dell’Emilia, n.s. III/1, 1879, pp. 169–212: 179; for this reference, I am grateful
to Dr. Julian Kliemann.
92 SILVESTRO GANASSI, Lettione seconda pur della prattica di sonare il violone d’arco da tasti, Venice, per l’autore, 1543, f. Givv: “Cap. XX. Modo di accomodarsi a curtar il manico con l’artificio. Certissimamente
nobilissimo mio lettor e che alle volte la mente mia mi chiede riposo rispetto el grande abondarmi delle
avertentie del bisogno in tal prattica, ma pur la si conforta alquanto con el considerar che a l’intelletto
[‘dalla Viola’] da Ferrara” are called “the most expert” players of the instrument “called del
Violon […] I say I have seen them do what can be possibly done on said instrument”;93
Chapter 20. How you can shorten the fingerboard artificially / Most noble reader, you
can believe me when I say that sometimes my mind longs for a rest from the vast
number of instructions which have to be included in this manual. But then I console
myself with the thought that I am clarifying every symbol, no matter how small, with
explanations and examples to illustrate the many things that can be said and done, as
I have already said. / As I do not want to give up in my task of showing you all the
various skills which lead to accomplished playing, I find that it will be an advantage
if I give you one more lesson in playing and handling the instrument — that is how
you should play divisions beyond the frets, on the body of the lute, or at the end of
the fingerboard of the viol. I have seen the most renowned masters of this instrument,
i.e., the viol, Sgn. Alfonso da Ferrara and Sgn. Giovanbattista Ciciliano, using this
instrument as completely as possible. The sam e applies to Sgn. Francesco da Milano
and Sgn. Rubertino da Mantova. Apart from these four there is no one else who is as
renowned for their performances on the instrument, and certainly they deserve the
highest praise. I have seen how they play the instrument beyond the frets — i.e., on
the body of the lute and at the end of the fingerboard of the viol, and with such skill
and to such good effect that one would have thought that there were frets there. So I
will reveal this secret as well, and include symbols to help you master it.94
Luigi Dentice’s Duo dialoghi is similarly laudatory:95
tuo li supplirà ogni minimo cigno e dico del parlar & essemplarti da capir il molto che si potria dir &
far come ancora ditto ho, po ti dico rispetto di non mancarti da regolar delle cose accadente ne l’effetto
del valente in tal materia io trovo essere in proposito a regolarti uno modo de sonar over pratticar il tuo
diminuir & non diminuir fora delli tasti cioè sul corpo del liuto & il violon alla estremità del manico
come il peritissimo di tal istromento dirò del violon un messer Alfonso da Ferrara, & un messer Ioanbattista Cicilian io dico haverli veduto a far quello che si può mai far sul ditto stromento il medemo un
messer Francesco da Milano & un messer Rubertino Mantoano & certo non si trova infama hoggi di solo
questi quattro in tal stromento e stromenti e certissimamente sono degni di grandissima laude si che io
dico haverli visto a pratticar tal stromenti di fuora de li tasti cioè sul corpo del liuto & alla estremità del
manico della viola con tanta agilità & effetto bono come se’l ge fusse stato li tasti posti alla sui termini
con ogni diligentia per tanto tal secreto ancora ti voglio rasonar & regolarti”. On Ganassi’s treatise, see
also HOWARD MAYER BROWN, Instrumental music printed before 1600. A bibliography, Cambridge, MA, Harvard
University Press, 1967, pp. 67–68.
93 H. COLIN SLIM, “Francesco da Milano (1497–1543/44). A bio-bibliographical study”, Musica
disciplina , XVIII-XIX, 1964–65: XVIII, p. 76. Slim cited the passage from Ganassi from EMIL VOGEL, Die
Handschriften nebst den älteren Druckwerken der Musikabtheilung der Herzoglichen Bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel,
Wolfenbüttel, Zwissler, 1890, p. 135; the translation is Slim’s.
94 SILVESTRO GANASSI, Regola Rubertina. First and second part: A manual of playing the viola da gamba
and of playing the lute, Venice 1542 and 1543, ed. Hildemarie Peter, Berlin–Lichterfelde, R. Lienau,
1972–1977, p. 91.
95 LUIGI DENTICE, Duo dialoghi della musica, Roma, V. Lucrino, 1553, f. Hiii: “Dialogo secondo della musica
/ interlocutori il signor Gio. Antonio Serone, & il signor Paolo Soardo. SERONE: Io v’ho aspettato qui due
grand’hore, onde venite così pieno di maraviglia? SOAR: Di casa della divinissima signora donna Giovanna
d’Aragona. SER. Hora non mi maraviglio della vostra maravuiglia SOAR: Perche? SER: Perché la signora
donna Giovanna, & la divina signora donna Vittoria Colonna sua figliuola, furono prodotte dalla natura per
un miracolo al mondo. SOAR: Così è, ma la maraviglia mia è causata da un’altra cosa. SER: Da quale? SOAR:
Second dialogue on music. [Interlocutors: signor Giovanni Antonio Serone, and signor
Paolo Soardo]. SERONE: I have waited for you here a good two hours; where are you
coming from, so full of wonder? Soar[do]: From the house of the most divine signora
donna Giovanna d’Aragona. SERONE: Now I don’t marvel at your amazement. SOARDO:
Why? SERONE: Because the signora donna Giovanna, and the divine signora donna
Vittoria Colonna her daughter, were produced by nature as by a miracle [given] to
the world.: So it is, but my amazement is caused by something else. SERONE: What?
SOARDO: By some music I heard in that very house […] SERONE: […] [W]ho were
the musicians? And what kind of music was it? SOARDO: The musicians were Messer
Giovanleonardo Napolitano, harpist, Messer Perino of Florence, Messer Battista Siciliano, and Messer Giaches of Ferrara.
Sansone may have been the son of the famous viol maker Antonio Ciciliano,
who was active in the early-sixteenth century; and so celebrated was he that in 1546
(according to Vasari), Titian’s son Orazio painted his portrait (“Orazio, his […] son
[…], made a portrait of Messer Battista Ceciliano, an excellent player in the bass-viol,
which was a very good work”), which may subsequently have entered the renowned
portrait collection of Paolo Giovio.96 Although evidently no longer extant, a period
woodcut of the portrait was executed and published (Fig. 1).97
Da una musica ch’ho intesa nella medesima casa […]. SER: […] Chi furono i musici? & che sorte di Musica
fu? SOAR: I musici furono messer Giovanlonardo dell’harpa napoletano, m. Perino da Firenze, m. Battista
Siciliano, & m. Giaches da Ferrara”. See also see DONNA CARDAMONE, The canzone villanesca alla napolitana
and related forms, 1537–1570, 2 vols., Ann Arbor, MI, UMI Research Press, 1981, vol. I, p. 254 n. 17.
96 On Battista’s possible relationship to the viol maker Antonio Ciciliano, see ALFRED BERNER, “Viola”,
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. XIII, 1966, cols. 1671–1689: 1677–1678, and table 81, Figures 1
and 2 (viole da gamba of Giovanni Battista Ciciliano and Antonio Ciciliano); Berner notes that a bass gamba
in the museum at Yale University bears the signature “Batista fiol de Antonio Cicilian in Venetia” and that
two bass gambas in Brussels bear the signature “Batista Fiel detto Anto[nio] Cicilian in Va”. More recently,
however, IAN WOODFIELD, The early history of the viol, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984, p.
128, has argued that Battista the instrumentalist was not Antonio’s son, and that there were two Battistas
— one a performer and one a viol maker — the second of whom, and not the first, was Antonio’s son;
the performer, however, may have been related to the viol makers. On Vasari’s reference to Orazio di
Tiziano’s portrait of Sansone (“Orazio, suo […] figliuolo, ebbe ritratto messer Battista Ceciliano, eccellente
sonatore di violone, che fu molto buon’opera”), see GIORGIO VASARI, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed
architettori, ed. Gaetano Milanesi, Florence, Sansoni, 1881, vol. VII, p. 448 and n. 2, and, for my translation,
Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere with an introduction and notes
by David Ekserdjian, New York, Knopf, 1996. There are references to a portrait of a “Battista siciliano
(citaredo)” in various sources attesting the contents of Giovio’s portrait gallery; see BRUNO FASOLA, “Per
un nuovo catalogo della collezione gioviana”, Atti del convegno Paolo Giovio: il Rinascimento e la memoria
(Como, 3–5 giugno 1983), Como, Società Comense, 1985, pp. 169–180: 171, references 13, 19, 24, and
179. For this reference, I am grateful to Dr. Julian Kliemann.
97 NIKOLAUS REUSNER, Icones sive Imagines viuæ, literis cl. virorum, Italiæ, Graeciæ, Germaniæ, Galliæ,
Angliæ, Ungariæ, Basel, K. Waldkirch, 1589. The figure reproduced here is from the exemplar in the
Houghton Library at Harvard University, Houghton *GC5 R3194 587ib, which binds Reusner’s text
with his Icones (Strasbourg, 1590). Reusner’s text is an 18–cm octavo of 352 pages, with portraits; part
2 has a special title page: Icones aliquot clarorum virorum Germaniæ, Angliæ, Galliæ, Ungariæ: Cum elogijs
& parentalibus factis / Theodoro Zvingero […]. I welcome the opportunity to express gratitude to the
Houghton Library for furnishing a photograph of the image, and for granting permission to publish it,
and to Dr. Julian Kliemann for this important reference.
Fig. 1. Sixteenth-century woodcut of Giovanni Battista Sansone detto “il Siciliano”, from NIKOLAUS REUSNER, Icones sive Imagines vivæ, Basel, K. Waldkirch,
1589, p. 275.
Nor was the portrait of Sansone in Giovio’s collection the only one contemplated;
Giovio’s correspondence with Cardinal Alessandro Farnese documents that Vasari
himself was to have executed a fresco of Sansone in Palazzo della Cancelleria in
Rome: “I should have wanted il Siciliano, holding only his bow”.98
Lorenzo da Gaeta “musico”, “sonatore di clavicembalo”
Like other eminent musicians of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the celebrated harpsichordist Lorenzo da Gaeta enjoyed a relationship with more than one
member of the Medici family,99 not only with Cardinal Ippolito but also with Pope
Clement VII, Ippolito’s first cousin once-removed. Since Gilio’s imprecise reference
provides no dates, we do not know what chronological relationship there was between Lorenzo’s service to Clement and his service to Ippolito, although Gilio’s text
states that Francesco da Milano, Giovan Battista Sansone, and Lorenzo da Gaeta were
in the employ of “Hippolito cardinale de’ Medici” specifically, which suggests that
their service was between 1529 (when Ippolito was raised to the cardinalate) and 1535
(the year of his death). The known references to Lorenzo’s Clementine service are
from 1524, ’25, and ’26,100 which may mean that Lorenzo passed to Ippolito’s service
soon after Ippolito’s accession to the cardinalate. Of course, it is always possible that
the documentary record of Lorenzo’s Clementine service is incomplete, and that he
continued in papal employ throughout the entirety of the 1520s and early ’30s; under
those circumstances, he may have been simultaneously employed in both Medicean
musical establishments: Clement’s throughout the ’20s and early ’30s, until the pope’s
death in 1534, and Ippolito’s from 1529 to 1535.Yet another possibility is that Lorenzo
was in Ippolito’s employ only during that brief period between Pope Clement’s death
in 1534 and Ippolito’s the following year. After Clement’s death, Lorenzo — like Sansone, his fellow musician under Ippolito — passed into the service of Paul III. Lorenzo,
whose full name was Lorenzo Spirito, was otherwise employed as organist at San
98 PAOLO GIOVIO, Lettere, ed. Giuseppe Guido Ferrero, Rome, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1958,
vol. II, pp. 37–39 (Pauli Iovii, Opera, tomus I, Epistularum, pars prior), Giovio to Cardinal Alessandro
Farnese (the editorial annotation on p. 37 reads “Giorgio Vasari ha lavorato alacremente alla pitture
del palazzo della Cancelleria, secondo i suggerimenti del Giovio”): “Avrei voluto […] il Siciliano con
l’archetto solo in mano”. For this reference, I am indebted to Dr. Julian Kliemann. HAAR, “Cosimo
Bartoli on music”, p. 68, says that “little is known about [Sansone]”; the references assembled here
suggest something more.
99 On this phenomenon generally, see CUMMINGS, “Gian Maria Giudeo”, pp. 312–318.
100 Florence, Archivio di Stato, Convento 102, Santa Maria Novella, 327 (Libri attinenti a Clemente
VII), f. 17, December 23, 1524: “E addì xxiii detto decembris 1524 ducati venticinque d’oro paghati
a Lorenzo da Ghaeta musicho per mancia”; f. 31, July 11, 1525: “E addì decto 11 julij 1525 ducati
trenta d’oro di camera pagati a Lorenzo musico”; fol. 53, May 31, 1526: “E addì xxxi decto maij 1526
ducati venti d’oro di camera pagati a Lorenzo musico per ordine di Sua Santità”; f.. 74, December 1,
1526: “E decembris 1526 ducati venti d’oro di camera pagati a Lorenzo musico per mancia”; BRAGARD,
“Détails nouveaux”, p. 11, n. 4. January 10, 1526: “E a dì ditto a mastro Lorenzo da Gaietta sonatore
de chlavasinbolo [sic] duchatti vinticinque_____duc. 25”; FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”,
IX, p. 145.
Lorenzo in Dàmaso, the capitular church located within the Palazzo della Cancelleria,
from 1539 to 1553, and probably already between 1524 and 1526.101
Francesco Canova da Milano
The third of Ippolito’s musicians identified by Gilio was Francesco da Milano,
preeminent lutenist of the early- to mid-sixteenth century, whose remarkable career
is so richly documented that its details require no rehearsal here.102 Francesco, too,
enjoyed associations with several members of the Medici family: Ippolito, his uncle
Pope Leo X,103 and his first cousin once-removed Pope Clement VII.104
Like Sansone, Francesco was famous enough to have had his portrait painted;105
moreover, he was the only one of the three musicians known to have been in Cardinal
Ippolito’s service to have left a corpus of musical compositions:106 scores of ricercari,
fantasie, and intabulations, whose primary sources in some instances transmit evocative
engraved representations of a lutenist practicing his craft.107
101 There are many payments to Lorenzo da Gaeta in DOREZ, La cour du pape Paul III; see the entries in the index. On Lorenzo’s service at San Lorenzo in Dàmaso, see LUCA DELLA LIBERA, “L’attività
musicale nella basilica di S. Lorenzo in Damaso nel Cinquecento”, Rivista italiana di musicologia, XXXI,
1997, pp. 25–59: 34, 56. Lorenzo is also cited in Bartoli’s Ragionamenti; see HAAR, “Cosimo Bartoli on
music”, p. 65.
102 FRANCO PAVAN, “Francesco (Canova) da Milano”, New Grove dictionary of music and musicians, ed.
Stanley Sadie, 29 vols., London, Macmillan, 2001 [2nd ed.], vol. IX, pp. 166–168, and SLIM, “Francesco
da Milano”, passim.
103 For example, the famous ruolo of May 1, 1514, lists a “Franciscus mediolanensis” and “Franciscus
de Millan” (see FERRAJOLI, Il ruolo della corte di Leone X, p. 25), and a reference of January 15, 1519 records
the following: “E più a messer Francesco milanese musico per li dicti tre mesi [January/March]_____
duc. 45”; FREY, “Regesten zur päpstlichen Kapelle”, IX, p. 56
104 For example, Florence, Archivio di Stato, Convento 102, Santa Maria Novella (“Libri attenenti a
Clemente VII”), vol. 327, fol. 37, October 12, 1525: [One hundred fifty gold ducats paid to] “Francesco
milanese musico per maritare una sua sorella”; BRAGARD, “Détails nouveaux”, p. 11. Mantua, Archivio
di Stato, Archivio Gonzaga, busta 871, January 16, 1526, Ambassador Francesco Gonzaga to Federico
Gonzaga: “Illustrissimo et Excellentissimo Signor Patrone mio Singularissimo. / Heri Madama Illustrissima fu ad visitare et fare riverentia a Nostro Signore […]. Il cavagliero Franceschino condusse Sua
Signoria in la stantia dove Nostro Signore manza hora ordinariamente, et havendo preparata lì una bella
colatione de confetti di zucharo, frutti et altre diverse cose, fece doppoi venire Francisco de Milano,
excellentissimo sonatore de liuto, come forsi deve sapere Vostra Excellentia, con dui compagni che
fecero musica con dui liuti et uno violone che per un pezzo fu de grandissimo piacere et delectatione,
però che si può credere che esso Francisco non habbia pare in simel sorte de musica, parendome, per
il pocho iudicio che ho, raro al mondo. / Romæ, XVIJ januarij 1526”; PRIZER, “Lutenists at the court
of Mantua”, p. 34. PAVAN, “Francesco (Canova) da Milano”, cites a letter of March 14, 1524, from the
Ferrarese ambassador in Clementine Rome, which records Francesco’s performance at a banquet attended by Castiglione, Giovio, and others. For more on Francesco’s professional activities, and especially
his relationships with the poet Francesco Berni after the Sack of Rome and with the court of Ippolito
de’ Medici, see now MARIAGRAZIA CARLONE, “New biographical information on Francesco da Milano”,
Recercare, XIII, 2001, pp. 79–96.
105 SLIM, “Francesco da Milano”, XVIII, pp. 81–84.
106 Expertly edited by ARTHUR J. NESS in The lute music of Francesco Canova da Milano (1497–1543), 2
vols., Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1970.
107 NESS in The lute music of Francesco Canova da Milano, vol. I, pp. XXI, XXIII, for example.
There is, therefore, substantial visual and acoustical material remaining to support
an imagined reconstruction of the music-making that might have occurred in Cardinal Ippolito’s household in the Campo Marzio, and in an attempt at such a reconstruction, one might randomly peruse the pages of the critical edition of Francesco da
Milano’s surviving lute works and study the surviving images of Francesco, Sansone,
and Ippolito himself, as well as the woodcuts of lute performances transmitted in
period sources of Francesco’s music; in the mind’s eye (and ear), such performances
can thus almost be seen (and heard). Perhaps Francesco and Sansone even performed
together. There are, for example, the two volumes of Franciscus Bossinensis’ roughly
contemporary Tenori e contrabassi intabulati col sopran in canto figurato per cantar e sonar
col lauto (Venice and Fossombrone, O. Petrucci, 1509 and 1511), where a solo vocal
part is rendered in the conventional mensural notation employed to notate vocal
music, and an instrumental accompaniment is notated in lute tablature, thus readily
affording a performance in “mixed media”. Given the abundance of contemporary
evidence suggesting the instrumental performance of works originally conceived
as vocal compositions,108 it is not difficult to imagine Giovanni Battista Sansone
performing a embellished version of the vocal part in Bossinensis’ prints on his
viola, accompanied on the lute by Francesco da Milano. Many of the compositions
in Bossinensis’ print are by composers associated with the Medici, especially Leo X
(Bartolomeo Tromboncino and Michele Pesenti most notably), and might therefore
have been performed in the household of Leo’s Medici nephew Cardinal Ippolito.
If not Bossinensis’ arrangements, then other similar compositions might have been
performed instead.
Understandably, perhaps inevitably, particular scholarly attention has heretofore
been devoted to a consideration of the patronage practices of the leading members of
one of the most illustrious of Italian Renaissance families: Cosimo il Vecchio, Lorenzo
il Magnifico, Giovanni di Lorenzo specifically in his role as Pope Leo X, Giulio di
Giuliano specifically in his role as Pope Clement VII.The evidence suggests that other
members of the family — Cardinal Ippolito di Giuliano di Lorenzo, for example,
as well as Giovanni di Lorenzo and Giulio di Giuliano prior to assuming positions
of immense ecclesiastical authority, and therefore prior to gaining access thereby to
the attendant infrastructures of patronage — indulged their musical interests as they
could, availing themselves of the resources and opportunities afforded Renaissance
cardinals under the circumstances of the moment. Such evidence enriches the picture
of the range of musical patronage practices and musical activities of the Medici; it affords testimony concerning the musical tastes of “minor” members of the family and
the developing interests of those who were subsequently to emerge as their family’s
108 A notable late-fifteenth-century example is the Casanatense chansonnier, on which see now
A Ferrarese chansonnier: Roma, Biblioteca Casanatense 2856. «Il canzoniere di Isabella d’Este», ed. Lewis
Lockwood, Lucca, Libreria Musicale Italiana, 2002, especially pp. XXVIII-XXX.
principal representatives. The contextualized evidence yields insights into artistic
interests more completely expressed only when the patrons in question attained
positions entailing the greater authority and almost limitless possibilities in musical
patronage that such positions customarily afforded; as such, the evidence provides
early intimations of objectives that were to be more fully realized only in the future.
Clement’s recruitment of putti cantori in 1528 was utterly consistent with practices
first established during his cardinalate, more than a decade before; Leo’s delight in the
company of musicians and his taste for the solo singing of the improvvisatori were the
expression of life-long interests, inherited from his father Lorenzo, his older brother
Piero, and the “élite” musical culture of Quattrocento Florence more generally. Such
signature musical patronage practices as Leo’s and Clement’s should occasion no surprise, since they are attested by “longitudinal data” that document the initial stages of
Anthony M. Cummings earned the M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees in musicology at Princeton
University. Since 1992 he has been Associate Professor of Music at Tulane University in
New Orleans. He is the author of The politicized muse: music for Medici festivals,
1512-1537 (Princeton University Press, 1992), The mæcenas and the madrigalist:
patrons, patronage, and the origins of the Italian madrigal (The American Philosophical Society, in press), and numerous articles in musicological journals. He has been a
Fulbright scholar at the University of Florence and a fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard
University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence.
L’articolo è suddiviso in tre parti: [1] Documenti inediti o in precedenza solo
parzialmente considerati testimoniano il precoce mecenatismo musicale di Leone X
(Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici), reputato come uno dei massimi mecenati nella
storia della musica. Le attività mecenatistiche in campo musicale di Leone X durante
il suo pontificato appaiono coerenti con gli interessi che mantenne lungo l’arco della
sua vita e possono essere meglio comprese se poste in relazione con la documentazione attestante il suo mecenatismo già dall’epoca in cui era cardinale. [2] Nella
Roma medicea sembra manifestarsi un particolare interesse verso le qualità vocali dei
‘putti cantori’. Documenti già noti, ma non integralmente considerati, attestano il
particolare ruolo giocato dal cardinale Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici nel mantenere
un gruppo di ‘putti cantori’, nel reclutarli e nel provvedere alle loro necessità durante
il loro soggiorno a Roma. [3] Testi dell’epoca rivelano molto di più di quel che finora
si era pensato sulle attività di mecenatismo musicale del cardinale Ippolito di Giuliano
de’ Medici, che ebbe tre rinomati strumentisti al suo servizio: il liutista Francesco da
Milano, il violista Giovanni Battista Sansone detto ‘il Siciliano’ e il clavicembalista
Lorenzo da Gaeta..
Anthony M. Cummings ha conseguito un M.F.A. e un Ph.D. in musicologia presso la
Princeton University. Dal 1992 è professore di musicologia alla Tulane University a New
Orleans. È autore delle monografie The politicized muse: music for Medici festivals,
1512-1537 (Princeton University Press, 1992), The mæcenas and the madrigalist:
patrons, patronage, and the origins of the Italian madrigal (American Philosophical
Society, in corso di stampa), e di numerosi articoli apparsi in riviste musicologiche. È stato
Fulbright scholar all’Università di Firenze e fellow a Villa I Tatti – Harvard University
Center for Italian Renaissance Studies a Firenze.

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