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Paisagens sonoras históricas

A Corte. Som e poder

A portrait of Modena

Sounds and spaces of a ducal city (XVII sec.)

Angela Fiore

Résumé

O artigo tem como objetivo redescobrir e reconstruir a paisagem musical da cidade de Modena, sede de uma das cortes mais prestigiosas do Renascimento italiano: a Casa de Este. Durante o século XVII, Modena tornou-se um importante centro musical graças aos duques de Este. A corte atraiu compositores e músicos de diferentes partes da Europa e organizou apresentações magníficas. Durante o reinado de Francesco II d'Este (1674-94) a produção musical conheceu o momento mais alto e intenso. Francesco II ampliou a orquestra da corte e comprou uma grande coleção de música para a biblioteca ducal. A música começa a aparecer nos espaços públicos do ducado e tornou-se parte central da cultura urbana. A própria corte contribuiu para a construção da identidade musical da cidade. A partir de fontes musicais e de documentos de arquivo preservados no Modena State Archive, a minha pesquisa analisará os diferentes tipos de paisagem sonora que fizeram parte da história de Modena. Esta contribuição faz parte de um projeto de investigação interdisciplinar iniciado em 2018 na Universidade de Modena e baseado na criação de uma plataforma digital para valorização do património documental da Casa de Este. As ferramentas digitais aplicadas à pesquisa musicológica permitem mostrar relações significativas entre dados provenientes de diferentes tipos de fontes - arquivísticas, históricas e musicais - úteis para delinear o processo de construção do som de uma cidade ducal durante o século XVII.

Entrées d'index

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 The musical history of the House of Este began in fifteenth-century Ferrara. The patronage of Leone (...)
  • 2 After its official incorporation into the Duchy of Este in 1452, Modena briefly became part of the (...)
  • 3 The event in which the Papal States, ruled by Clement VIII, came into possession of Ferrara is know (...)

1The musical history of the city of Modena is fundamentally connected to the interest in music cultivated over the centuries by the Este, the dukes of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio Emilia1. Entrusted to the Este dynasty in the late thirteenth century, Modena became the capital of the Este state at the end of the sixteenth century 2. Indeed, in 1598, following the «Conventions of Faenza», the Este were forced to quickly move from Ferrara to Modena, the duchy’s second most important city 3. This resulted in a new capital to which the entire cultural heritage of the Este family – consisting of illuminated codices, fine sixteenth-century books, works of art, instruments and musical manuscripts – was hastily transported during the dramatic days of the court’s relocation. For both the Este and Modena itself, the transition between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was a time of major transformation. Following the transfer and the new arrangement of the court, attempts were made to replicate Ferrara’s former artistic and musical splendour in the Este’s new seat. The long and ‘provisional’ duchy of Cesare I d’Este (1598-1628), the first regent of Modena, primarily focused on the process of settlement in the new capital, a period that lasted for around 10 years. Although changes were gradual, the city’s fate and status were irremediably altered: these decades were characterised by a need to consolidate Modena’s new guise as a capital, by a desire to reaffirm its ancient greatness and to asserts its interests in the Italian and European courts.

Modena, the new capital

  • 4 Records reveal that there was already a large group of musicians in constant attendance at the Este (...)

2Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Modena enjoyed a period of great cultural vitality thanks to the presence of famous intellectuals and artists such as Carlo Sigonio, Guido Mazzoni, Antonio Begarelli and Orazio Vecchi. Musical activities conducted in Modena between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century were mostly connected to the cathedral. Thanks to the collaboration of the cathedral’s musicians, such as Geminiano Capilupi, Giovanni Battista Stefanini and the more famous Orazio Vecchi, the court gradually managed to restore its musical prestige. This osmosis between the Church and court fostered the creation of groups of musicians linked to the court, eventually leading to the establishment of an ensemble entirely managed by the court 4.

3Cesare d’Este initially organised an instrumental ensemble of six local musicians named the «Compagnia dei Violini», which was active from around 1610. This group of musicians was tasked with playing on certain occasions at court and more frequently outside it, in the squares and streets. The court controlled the activity of these musicians, issuing occasional licences.

Figure 1 - Ducal Licence

Figure 1 - Ducal Licence

The document includes the names of six members of the «Compagnia dei Violini» and the authorization issued by the duke permitting them to play in the streets and squares of the duchy

State Archive, Modena (ASMO), Archivio per Materie, b. 3. By courtesy of State Archive of Modena – Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Italy.

  • 5 Uccellini was appointed «Head of musicians of the Serene Duke of Modena». it is also possible to fi (...)

4An official ducal chapel was definitively established in 1629 at the beginning of Francesco I’s reign. The court orchestra in Modena, known as the «Concerto degli stromenti», became one of the finest in Italy thanks to the inclusion of musicians such as Marco Uccellini, who was appointed «Capo degli istrumentisti del serenissimo duca di Modena»5. The court orchestra provided an exceptional environment for the development of instrumental music, helping to establish a local tradition of bowed string instruments. Archival sources testify to the vibrancy of this period and the flow of musicians both inside and outside the court. The ducal chapel not only performed at most dynastic festive occasions but also in the solemnisation of liturgies in certain churches, at social events organised in noble residences and palaces, in theatrical performances and during shows and festivals in the squares.

  • 6 About the figure of Francesco II and his patronage see: Fumagalli-Signorotto, 2012; Taddei-Chiarell (...)

5Francesco I was in all likelihood Modena’s greatest duke. An important patron and collector, Francesco I was responsible for bold diplomatic schemes in which the Este switched allegiances between France and Spain. During his rule from 1629 to 1658, Francesco I was the driving force behind Modena’s transformation into a modern city, symbolized by the impressive Palazzo Ducale. Indeed, the year of Francesco I’s reign witnessed the city’s physical growth: new churches and monasteries were erected, as well as noble palaces and theatres 6. This architectural renaissance was accompanied by cultural development. In contrast to other Italian cities in which cultural affairs were governed by the state, Modena, as a ducal city, was entirely managed by the court, including all artistic and cultural activities. The presence of a court probably improved citizens’ quality of life and favoured the creation of a lively cultural and musical scene that could dialogue with the most prestigious European courts.

  • 7 Francesco I was succeeded by Alfonso IV. Following Alfonso IV’s death in 1662, the heir to the thro (...)
  • 8 «noiosissime occupationi», ASMO, ASE, Cancelleria, Sezione estero, b. 1639/1.

6However, it was during the two decades of Francesco II d’Este’s reign that the city’s musical splendour reached its peak7. Francesco II, the tenth duke of Modena and Reggio Emilia from 1674 to his death at just thirty-four years of age in 1694, was a sophisticated connoisseur and patron of the art of music. He was a musician himself and most of his energy and finances were spent on music. Taking little interest in state duties, which he liked to refer to as «very tedious tasks»8, Francesco II promoted extensive cultural initiatives in the city, including the renewal of the university, the activities of literary academies, the continuation of artistic and architectural works in the Palazzo Ducale and the reorganisation of the ducal library. Francesco II understood the need to enlarge and somehow stabilise the ducal chapel and he also provided many more opportunities to create music through cooperation with some of the city’s institutions: the Oratorio di San Carlo Rotondo – a place dedicated to the performance of oratorios during Lent –, certain theatres in the city and the Accademia de’ Dissonanti. Moreover, during the seventeenth century, the city’s spaces often provided a stage for spectacular events involving different civil and religious institutions and featuring music and renowned musicians. The reputation of the Este court’s musical establishment was enough to attract important composers and artists from neighbouring areas and other parts of Italy.

7The different occasions of music present in the ducal city had resulted in a varied soundscape comprised of both ostentatious aspects and a more intimate musical tradition restricted to the everyday life of the court.

8What circumstances and places contributed to the creation of Modena’s sonic identity? What was this city’s sonic experience? What testimonies describe it today?

A court’s resource

  • 9 The Biblioteca Estense was established in the fifteenth century and was subsequently moved to Moden (...)

9The most significant evidence of the interest in musical art manifested by the Dukes of Este over the centuries is the ducal collection of musical manuscripts and prints, which is now considered one of the most prestigious European dynastic collections. Certainly, the Este sources reflect music collecting conventions, but they also attest to the court’s musical production, performances and commissioning activities. The collection, which is now housed in the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, is an indispensable resource for studying some musical genres such as madrigal, oratorio, cantata and instrumental music9.

  • 10 The Este music collection also encompasses anthologies of dances, arias and songs of folk tradition (...)

10Judging from the Este musical sources, the sound that accompanied the everyday life of the Este court, in line with the official culture of the Italian courts, consisted of high-quality music production that coexisted with forms of art inspired by popular culture10.

  • 11 See: Cont, 2009; Radicchi 2002.
  • 12 Giuseppe Colombi (1635-1694) was a pupil of Marco Uccellini and held various positions at court: di (...)
  • 13 Little is known of Domenico Galli, a luthier, carver and composer. In addition to his inlaid instru (...)
  • 14 GALLI, Domenico (1691), Violoncello, Modena, Galleria Estense [Consult. 17 May 2020]. Available at: (...)

11Francesco II was an avid music enthusiast: the duke felt compelled to collect and commission instrumental music for his own leisure and practice, as well as for entertainment at court 11. To ensure that he could enjoy the best music available, he did not limit himself to collecting and commissioning, but also organised a kind of book workshop at court, assembling a large number of regularly paid copyists who could provide an accurate musical manuscript copying service. The coordination of this workshop and responsibility for the music collection was entrusted to Giuseppe Colombi, who served the duchy as a composer and performer12. Thanks to Colombi’s presence and the young duke’s interest in stringed instruments, the Este court helped to consolidate the tradition of the local violin school and established one of the most important cello schools of the late seventeenth century. Francesco II was himself an amateur cellist and over the years he came in contact with the most prominent cellists of the time: Domenico Gabrielli, Giuseppe Iacchini and Giovanni Battista degli Antonij. The compositions commissioned by or written for the Duke were based on a sophisticated and virtuoso instrumental technique in keeping with the Baroque period’s typical notion of music, which was designed to amaze listeners. This aspect of the court’s musical culture explains the presence of certain musical instruments in the Este collection, such as the famous inlaid cello and violin created by the eclectic artist Domenico Galli13. The two instruments arrived in Modena in the late seventeenth century as a tribute to Francesco II. The unusual carving on the back of the instruments makes them rather outlandish examples of lutherie. They are a clear testimony of this desire to inspire wonder, demonstrating, with their refined inlays, how a musical instrument can become a work of art worthy of display and a means of celebrating a duke who was a patron of the arts14.

  • 15 Around 300 miscellaneous volumes of cantatas have been preserved: some volumes contain just a few d (...)
  • 16 The history of the foundation of the Accademia de’ Dissonanti is somewhat controversial and debated (...)

12The genre of cantata da camera is also associated with this ‘reserved’ context. It was a musical genre that was particularly suitable for performing in the interior spaces of noble palaces, featuring poetic and eulogistic texts sometimes written by the nobles themselves. Francesco II was obsessed with this musical genre, as evidenced by the disproportionately large number of cantata anthologies compared to other genres in the Este collection15. Intended for a select audience of connoisseurs, chamber cantatas became a significant part of Francesco II’s cultural agenda, partly thanks to the activities of the literary academies, in particular the Accademia de’ Dissonanti. Founded in 1683, the Accademia de’ Dissonanti was a place for cultural exchange between artists, musicians and poets16. The repertoire dedicated to this institution mostly consisted of cantatas or accademie for vocal soloists and basso continuo or with one or more obligato instruments. The texts were part of the academic poetry that aimed to glorify the prestige of the Este family. Many of these cantatas were composed for specific occasions connected to the duke or the court. For example, Giovanni Battista Vitali composed the accademia Coronata d’applausi di Francesco il dì Natale for Francesco II’s birthday, while Da bianchissimi vanni dell’augello reale was written in 1686 by Giovanni Marco Martini for Rinaldo d’Este, Francesco II’s uncle who became cardinal. Martini also dedicated a three-voice accademia for the funeral of Laura Martinozzi, Francesco II’s mother. The duke’s ‘chamber’ was, therefore, a sophisticated sonic space geared towards knowledgeable listeners: admirers, enthusiasts and courtiers who may have been performers as well as auditors.

  • 17 On the ‘Spanish’ guitar and its use in the Italian courts, see: Veneziano, 2003.
  • 18 Tiraboschi 1783, 432-433.
  • 19 The instrument features black marble paste inlays with plant motifs and geometric friezes that comp (...)

13However, the sources in the Biblioteca Estense also appear to testify to a more daily, less sophisticated side of court life. Alongside the cultured instrumental music and exclusive repertoire of cantatas, there is also evidence of music being essentially performed for entertainment. An instrument that was particularly fashionable in the Italian courts could also be found in the seat of the Este: the ‘Spanish’ guitar, an instrument chosen to introduce court circles to the musical and poetic repertoire of the Spanish tradition17. Dances, variations on famous arias and songs can be found in the series of tablatures in the Este collection, together with small theoretical compendia designed to help readers rapidly learn the instrument. The Este collection of musical instruments even includes a marble guitar. Probably commissioned more to encourage the prince’s passion for collecting than for instrumental purposes, the guitar was made around 1686 and given to Francesco II d’Este in the same year. The famous Modenese historian Girolamo Tiraboschi described the arrival of this instrument at court, recounting that Pietro Bertacchini, a guitarist in the service of the Cybo-Malaspina family of Massa and Carrara, had come to Modena to show the duke a marble guitar made by Michele Antonio Grandi18. After the instrument was «played in his chamber», the duke was so captivated by its beauty and by the musician’s performance skills that he asked for the guitar as a gift and commissioned Grandi to create other marble instruments to enhance the ducal collection of «wonders»19.

Around the court

14Towards the mid-seventeenth century, Modena effectively became one of the music capitals of Italy. The city turned into a repository of innovations and artistic trends supported by an enlightened court that was surprisingly sensitive to the musical ferment of the Baroque period. Social life in Modena gradually became entwined with art music. The city’s physical locations participated in the evolution of musical language, influencing the ways in which music was produced, performed and listened to.

15The Este collection of musical sources also helps us to reconstruct the city’s soundscape: certain sources bear witness to the various sonic experiences in which the court and the city participated. While under Francesco I’s rule Modena underwent numerous architectural transformations and new spaces were created for lavish celebrations to extol the glory of the House of Este, under Francesco II music ‘left’ the court to dialogue with the city.

16As an essential part of court life, music accompanied the duke’s daily devotional activities as well as extraordinary or dynastic ceremonies, which were often organized in the city’s churches. During the seventeenth century, the court interacted with various ecclesiastical institutions in the city by periodically sending court musicians to solemnise the liturgical celebrations sponsored by the Este and punctually recorded in the court’s expense reports.

  • 20 San Vincenzo was an «Este» church thanks to Francesco I’s involvement in its construction. See: Sol (...)
  • 21 Namely «round».
  • 22 Modena was one of the most remarkable and important centres for the history of oratorio in the seve (...)
  • 23 Duke Francesco II had a special admiration for Stradella’s musical works and collected his composit (...)

17The churches that best represent the relationship between the city and the court include the Chiesa del Voto, which was built to fulfil the vow made by the people of Modena to the Madonna della Ghiara, entreating her to put an end to the terrible plague of 1630, and the church of San Vincenzo, built by the Theatines in 1617 on Corso Canalgrande, one of the city’s most important streets 20. Moreover, some of the city’s monastic communities, such as the Jesuit Fathers and the Nuns of Santa Teresa, also had relations with the court through music. The sacred institutions included a notable centre of music production, the Oratorio di S. Carlo Rotondo, a place of worship for the Theatine congregation of San Carlo, built in 1634. The oratory, which was named «Rotondo»21 in reference to its octagonal design, hosted the oratorial performances commissioned by Duke Francesco II during Lent. Oratorios, which were brought to Emilia from Rome by the Philippine Fathers, who originated this genre, took root in Modena thanks to the work of the congregation of San Carlo and to Francesco II’s personal interest in these compositions22. From 1680 to 1691 about 100 oratorios were performed. The authors of the texts were local writers such as Giovanni Battista Giardini and Giovanni Battista Rosselli Genesini. The authors of the music were both court composers and external composers: the compositions of Pier Simone Agostini, Benedetto Ferrari, Domenico Gabrielli and Antonio Giannettini were joined by the oratorios of Alessandro Scarlatti and Alessandro Stradella23. Certain oratorios allude to the glory of the House of Este by telling the stories of the dynasty’s saints – San Contardo d’Este, Santa Beatrice d’Este and Sant’Azzo d’Este – while others have distinctly political subjects or refer to well-known biblical heroes.

  • 24 The Theatine congregation of San Carlo was responsible for educating the children of the ruling cla (...)

18Oratorios could be used to highlight the firm Christian values, faith and devotion of the House of Este, and as a tool for political propaganda. The court’s brilliant oratorial production organised at San Carlo Rotondo made it possible to strengthen the link with the powerful Theatine congregation of S. Carlo, through which a large part of the Este political and cultural program was achieved24.

  • 25 Martinelli Braglia, 2019; Martinelli Braglia, 2016; Martinelli Braglia 2007, 17-50.

19The presence of a ducal theatre was an essential requirement for the social life of a duchy’s capital. From the mid-seventeenth century, several theatres in the city began to host opera performances, offering a busy, high-quality calendar of events supported by the various dukes. The city’s first theatrical activity was carried out at the Teatro della Spelta, built at the behest of duke Francesco I, who was keen to provide the duchy’s new capital with a theatre that met the needs of the court. To build the auditorium, located within the walls of the Palazzo Comunale, the duke used the court architect, Gaspare Vigarani, expert in theatre design who was so adept as to be summoned to the King of France, Louis XIV, eager to have a building that resembled the Modena theatre25.

  • 26 In 1705, the son of Decio Fontanelli, the Marquis Giulio, sold «the public theatre of comedies» to (...)

20Instead, the first court theatre, housed in the Palazzo Ducale, dates back to 1669. It was a small theatre exclusively intended for the court’s private use. The most interesting theatre, which managed to combine the needs of the court with those of the city, was the Teatro Valentini. Initially, it was a large ‘show room’ located in the noble Palazzo Valentini, which was built around 1542 by Giovanni Andrea Valentini. In 1683, the theatre was bought by another Modenese nobleman, Marquis Decio Fontanelli, who made it the most important theatre in the Este States, directly linked to the duke’s cultural policy. The theatre, renamed Teatro Fontanelli, was chosen by Francesco II as the place to host theatrical performances that were sponsored by the court, but open to a paying audience26. The auditorium contained one hundred and thirty-six boxes arranged in five rows and a gallery, with a total capacity of around a thousand seats. The Biblioteca Estense now preserves several opera scores and the Fontanelli family’s collection of librettos. This consists of 1352 music librettos, all printed and dated from the early seventeenth century to around 1760. Many of them relate to Modenese performances of musical dramas that took place at the Teatro Fontanelli during the reign of Francesco II.

21Francesco II did not limit performances of ‘Este’ music to Modena: he ensured that it could circulate outside the court thanks to the press and the institution of the ‘ducal music printers’. The work of the ducal printers involved the publication of anthologies of cantatas, sacred music and theoretical works by authors from Modena and elsewhere, while also enabling the dissemination of a considerable amount of instrumental music by composers who worked at the court, including Giovanni Battista Vitali, Giuseppe Colombi, Tommaso Pegolotti and others.

Urban ‘sounds’

22The soundscape that characterised the streets and squares of the Duchy of Este’s capital must have been varied and dynamic. Spectacular outdoor events included musical accompaniment by mainly wind and percussion instrumentalists such as trumpets, fifes and drums. They were tasked with filling the streets and squares with sound, preceding a procession, emphasising every ritual and involving the urban fabric. The ‘colloquial’ nature of these spectacular outdoor events made it possible to create specific forms of interaction between different types of sound sources: street sounds and the sounds of people merged with the sounds of performances, consensually produced and shared by different social and cultural groups.

  • 27 On funerals of the House of Este see Lucchi, 2002.

23The processions were highly symbolic travelling shows. The synthesis of sonic and visual elements was certainly one of the fundamental aspects of this type of ritual. Indeed, the splendid liturgical vestments, sumptuous displays and sonic architecture not only aimed to arouse people’s admiration but also contributed to the symbolic construction of the power underlying these events. Some areas of the city were particularly associated with religious parades and processions. The square in front of the church of Sant’Agostino, named Largo Sant’Agostino, was certainly a symbol of Modenese pomp. This square hosted parades and provided a backdrop to the liturgical celebrations that took place in the church. The church of Sant’Agostino, strategically located next to the Via Emilia, became the official venue of different dynastic celebrations of the ducal family, in particular, funerals27. It was therefore considered the Pantheon of the Este dynasty.

  • 28 The ephemeral apparati, which were particularly used in the Baroque period for special celebratory (...)

24The funeral of Francesco I d’Este was held at the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino on 2 April 1659. For the occasion, an ephemeral apparatus was designed to decorate the square, the church façade and the inner nave28. The impressive funeral procession passed through the most important points of the city: starting from the Palazzo Ducale, it proceeded down the entire Via Emilia and arrived at Porta Sant’Agostino.

25The procession featured precise choreography that is evidenced by documents from the Este secret archives, which provide a detailed description of the sequence of the various groups of participants, movements and clothing. The court musicians also took part, although, in order to ensure musical backing that was appropriate for a solemn ducal funeral, additional musicians and instrumentalists from neighbouring towns were summoned:

  • 29 «Nello stato di Sua Altezza Serenissima non vi sono altre voci di concerto, che quelle del Signore (...)

«In the state of His Serene Highness there are no other concert singers, with the exception of Mr. Daino and Mr. Marzio, so it will be necessary to invite others from Bologna, Ferrara and Parma, excluding, however, any musician already hired by other Princes; the number of singers and instrumentalists outside the court is estimated to be around twenty».29

26As well as religious festivities, Modena’s squares and streets were often settings for special events organised by the court such as masquerades, tournaments and jousting.

27Already in the late sixteenth century, masquerades and quintains were held in the city’s open spaces, featuring floats and theatrical performances. At this type of event, erudition was blended with popular culture, while ephemeral machines and itinerant stages came to life with polyphony and combinations of instruments.

  • 30 Giovanni Battista Spaccini’s chronicle is a valuable account that offers a vivid insight into the m (...)

28Following the duchy’s devolution, at the beginning of Cesare d’Este’s reign, there was a significant increase in open-air performances. The chronicles of Giovanni Battista Spaccini provide some information on how these events unfolded, testifying to their splendour and the number of citizens involved30.

  • 31 Spaccini, 1999, 105-106.

29The chronicler describes an impressive ‘masquerade’ that took place in Piazza Grande for the Carnival in 1604: Several Modenese noblemen took part and a «very cheerful show» was organised featuring «French-style ballets with very pleasant and lively music» that continued during the night. The music was «arranged by Mr. Orazio Vecchi». The masquerade, according to Spaccini, had passed along the city’s streets preceded by «many players of different instruments, dressed in delicate colours to ward off melancholy»31. Throughout the sixteenth century, Piazza Grande was one of the city’s key locations. The main buildings of civic and religious power stood on either side of the square: the cathedral with its bell tower known as the ‘Ghirlandina’, the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo della Ragione. The main religious ceremonies were also held in this square in the seventeenth century, especially liturgies related to the liturgical year, the cathedral and the rites of San Geminiano, patron saint of Modena. Piazza Grande was also the setting for shows organized for birthday celebrations, illustrious visits or political events, whose purpose was also to exalt the magnificence of the Este dynasty.

  • 32 Allacci, 1654, 93-94.

30In 1654 Francesco I married Lucrezia Barberini. The wedding was celebrated by proxy at the Santa Casa in Loreto on 15 April 1654, followed by celebrations in Modena organized with great pomp: lights, music, tournaments and floats. The chronicler Leone Allacci describes this event:Francesco I’s third bride entered Modena on the night of 24 April 1654, greeted by the sound of the city’s bells. The festivities enlivened the city for several days. An oval-shaped theatre was constructed by Gaspare Vigarani in Piazza Grande with platforms for spectators and spaces for musicians. Several temporary machines, created for a play entitled Gli Amori d’Alessandro con Rossane, were introduced by the sound of fifes and a chorus of trumpets. The chronicler reports that about forty different instruments were assembled for the occasion in order to produce particular harmonic effects32.

31Francesco I ordered the construction of the Palazzo Ducale in 1634, one of the most magnificent seventeenth-century princely palaces. The inner courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale and its facing square were used for tournaments and masquerades on horseback with pyrotechnics, spectacular displays, equestrian carousels, mock fights and dancing. Jousting shows were mainly linked to Este family anniversaries and illustrious visits, often accompanied by a sumptuous temporary theatre erected for the occasion. Surviving sources contain descriptions, texts and iconographic material, but there is little information on the music, which is generally attributed to the chapel master.

  • 33 Graziani, who was born in Urbino but was Modenese by adoption, combined a poetic inclination with t (...)
  • 34 Graziani, 1660, 7.

32The most famous event held in this site was probably the lavish ceremony organised for the birth of Francesco II in 1660, a ‘feast of arms’ on the theme of virtue’s triumph over vice, which took place on the day of the new Este heir’s baptism on 12 June. Girolamo Graziani wrote the verses, while the chapel master Benedetto Ferrari composed the music, which is now lost33. The ceremony involved the «most qualified nobility» and the event’s sonic impact was determined by «several choirs of outstanding musicians, supported by the rumble of thundering horns and the festive applause of the people»34. The Biblioteca Estense currently preserves the precious manuscript that gives a detailed description of the tournament and its displays and costumes, as well as of the design of the theatre built for the ceremony:

  • 35 «Era il Teatro si vago nella dipositione, si attrativo nel colorito, e si pellegrino nell’ordine, c (...)

«The theatre had such a charming design and such pleasing colours that alone it would have been a sufficient spectacle to satisfy the spectators’ taste and curiosity. All around there were convenient steps that resembled marble and were interrupted in a beautifully proportioned manner by six doors of equal size arranged at equal distance on either side of the theatre [...]. Four of these six doors ended with high towers adorned with various columns with gold and silver veins, and on top each of them supported two great Este eagles […] ».35

  • 36 Graziani, 1660, 7.

33This description in the manuscript highlights the pomp and grandeur of the temporary architecture and light effects organised for the occasion. The costumes of the infantrymen must have also been spectacular, not to mention the horseback choreography which was accompanied by «resounding drums» and by «various waving banners»36.

Figure 2 - Drawing of an ephemeral theatre

Figure 2 - Drawing of an ephemeral theatre

Girolamo Graziani, Il Trionfo della Virtù, 1660. Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena. By courtesy of Gallerie Estensi, Modena

Figure 3 - Drawing of the costume used by infantrymen

Figure 3 - Drawing of the costume used by infantrymen

Girolamo Graziani, Il Trionfo della Virtù, 1660. Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena. By courtesy of Gallerie Estensi, Modena

34The Trionfo della virtù probably represents the apex of the festivities in the squares of Modena and marks their gradual dramatic and scenographic refinement, partly thanks to the participation of court artists such as Graziani and Vigarani. Although little is known about the music performed, it is not difficult to imagine the sounds that characterised these events. The music probably lost its solemnity, mingling with the festive clamour of the people or the drum rolls which themselves became part of the sonic experience.

  • 37 ASMO, Archivio per Materie, Spettacoli, 9/A.
  • 38 ASMO, Archivio per Materie, Spettacoli, 9/A.

35An account from several years later, 1718, records instead the birthday celebrations of prince Rinaldo I d’Este, for whom a sound carousel was organised. An archive document containing a description of the dress rehearsal for the carousel provides certain information about it, describing what it entailed37. Four temporary machines were prepared for the occasion: the first, which represented «Discord», involved «4 trumpets with timpani and 4 oboes all on horseback dressed in a heroic style and behind them 18 men dressed in the same style, and a musician who stood above it»; the second represented «War» pulled by four white horses and «accompanied like the first». The third machine represented the Modenese Panaro river and the fight between the Horatii and the Curiatii. The chronicler concludes by remarking that the actors’ movements were punctuated by the sound of «timpani, trumpets and oboe «and that every space in the city on that day «resounded with musical instruments»38.

36These occasions were not only intended as a means of celebrating an anniversary, entertaining the court and the people, or organising cultural events; they were also excellent opportunities for dukes to demonstrate the magnificence of the court. The music of the Este family in Modena in the late seventeenth century thus became a social art designed to be displayed and used as a tool for building consensus and publicly affirming the prince’s power.

The ‘Este soundscape’ project

  • 39 The project arises from the parallel study of two fundamental collections for the Este history: the (...)
  • 40 Digital cartography, with the support of the latest software, in particular GIS (geographic informa (...)

37The comparative study of sources of different types (musical manuscripts, historical maps, archival sources) grasps the multiform connections between court, city and territory, offering many details on the complex relationships between sound and space within of the urban context39. As discussed, the same musical sources can be interpreted as the product of an interaction between court and city. At the same time, the analysis of the different types of Este music production gives us an understanding of how city spaces cannot be considered simple places: they allow us to identify times, ceremonies and spontaneous practices, perception skills and a culture of performance and listening40.

38Through the support of the digital humanities, the ‘Este soundscape project’ intends to create a digital platform through which to reconstruct and explore sounds places events people who contributed to the creation of a city’s musical identity. Thanks to the use of state-of-the-art web development tools and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the platform will feature an interactive search and navigation environment, plus an interactive map with geo-localized objects and events. The online platform, which is currently under construction, will permit to explore and see the urban landscape of early modern Modena, to hear sounds and music of this city, to access to resources dedicated to different sonic events, to read musical sources and to have instantly data about their context of production.

39The virtual map will compare the XVII century territory to the contemporary one. Furthermore, it will be possible to identify centres of music production in the city (churches, palaces, theatres, squares) on the map using polygons. Through informative pop-ups quickly one will obtain a series of information regarding places and institutions or their musical activities and to directly access the related musical sources.

40Moreover, using queries, it will be possible to filter and to cross-reference data to obtain re-elaborations of the base map according to specific criteria. The map will also be able to display a series of events (carousel, shows, ceremonies, processions) through which the court interacted with the city. In this sense, the virtual map will be an interdisciplinary digital tool that connects social aspects, landscape perception, musical sources and resources with urban spaces.

41This approach will allow users to study the musical heritage concerning the urban context using an online interactive map with digital resources. Moreover, the map will enable to have new points of view to study a city and its historical and spectacular development. It will be a valid tool for analysing the artistic and spatial context of a city in a more general sense.

42The project aims also at filling several fundamental gaps of the musical and cultural view of a city for its global reconstruction. The development of a digital project dedicated to the soundscape can open a discussion in geographical fields on music and landscape in the early modern era, also providing a useful tool for the representation of the city.

43Because of the key role that the House of Este had in the European musical culture, the knowledge obtained will allow a more balanced historiographical view overall social history of music since the XVII century Italy. Finally, the project wants to propose a collaborative and multidisciplinary model for historical research and provide new ideas for the enhancement of cultural heritage.

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Notes

1 The musical history of the House of Este began in fifteenth-century Ferrara. The patronage of Leonello, Ercole I and Alfonso II made Ferrara an important centre of music production during the Italian Renaissance. See: Lockwood, 1984; Durante-Martellotti, 2005.

2 After its official incorporation into the Duchy of Este in 1452, Modena briefly became part of the Papal States again in 1510. Subsequently, in the 1530s, the city gradually returned under Ferrara’s control.

3 The event in which the Papal States, ruled by Clement VIII, came into possession of Ferrara is known as the «devolution of Ferrara». After the death of Duke Alfonso II, who left no direct heir, the Pope did not renew the investiture of the feud of Ferrara to the Este and it, therefore, returned to the Papal States. The transfer of the court, led by the new Duke Cesare, took place on the eve of 29 January 1598. Archival documents and contemporary chronicles bear witness to the dramatic nature of these events. See: Guerzoni, 1999.

4 Records reveal that there was already a large group of musicians in constant attendance at the Este court in Ferrara under the rule of Alfonso II. Over the years, the duke maintained a sizeable instrumental ensemble that was required to perform on the most important occasions, such as a noble visitor’s arrival at court or the celebration of an event. The most contemporary source to provide a detailed report on the Ferrarese musical group named «Concerto grande» is Ercole Bottrigari, a humanist from Bologna who, during the years of his exile in Ferrara, gave a report on the musical customs of his time and in particular on the musical life of the court of Ferrara. See: Bottrigari 1599, 40.

5 Uccellini was appointed «Head of musicians of the Serene Duke of Modena». it is also possible to find this appellation in the editions of his sonata collections. Regarding the ducal chapel of Modena and its masters see: Crowther, 1990.

6 About the figure of Francesco II and his patronage see: Fumagalli-Signorotto, 2012; Taddei-Chiarelli, 2007.

7 Francesco I was succeeded by Alfonso IV. Following Alfonso IV’s death in 1662, the heir to the throne, Francesco II, was only two years old and Alfonso IV’s widow, Laura Martinozzi, took charge of the duchy’s governance. Laura Martinozzi’s reign ended in 1674 when her son Francesco II regained power by conspiring against his mother. See: Namias, 1987.

8 «noiosissime occupationi», ASMO, ASE, Cancelleria, Sezione estero, b. 1639/1.

9 The Biblioteca Estense was established in the fifteenth century and was subsequently moved to Modena in the seventeenth century. Today, the Biblioteca Estense’s collections consist of numerous noteworthy manuscripts, precious printed editions, old maps and musical sources. Specifically, the music collection includes manuscripts and rare printed editions dating from the mid-sixteenth to the late-nineteenth century. The present collection only partly corresponds to the House of Este’s former musical repository. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the original corpus was joined by other important assortments of music from foreign collections, bequests and donations: Lodi, 1926; Luin, 1936; Chiarelli 1987. In 2018 an important digitization project of the Estense Library's heritage began. The project is the result of a collaboration between Gallerie Estensi and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The digital library is today accessible and lets us benefit from an important documentary resource. [Consult. 17 May 2020]. Available at www: https://edl.beniculturali.it

10 The Este music collection also encompasses anthologies of dances, arias and songs of folk tradition, as well as a large number of madrigals and various forms of poetry for music, which interweave poetry, music and literature.

11 See: Cont, 2009; Radicchi 2002.

12 Giuseppe Colombi (1635-1694) was a pupil of Marco Uccellini and held various positions at court: director of court concerts from 1647 to 1665 and a violinist from 1671, he became «Capo del Concerto degli stromenti» in 1673 and was sottomaestro of the ducal chapel from 1674 until his death. Colombi was a local composer who was closely connected to Modena and unknown outside of Emilia-Romagna. He was also Francesco II’s music teacher. Wilk, 2004; Suess, 1999.

13 Little is known of Domenico Galli, a luthier, carver and composer. In addition to his inlaid instruments, the Este collection contains an elegant manuscript of solo cello sonatas composed by Domenico Galli and presented to Duke Francesco II. This volume arrived in Modena in 1691 together with the famous carved cello. GALLI, Domenico (1691) Trattenimento musicale sopra il violoncello, Modena, 1691 [Consult. 17 May 2020]. Available at: www: https://edl.beniculturali.it/beu/850011117. Regarding Domenico Galli and his cello see: Harran-Careri 1999.

14 GALLI, Domenico (1691), Violoncello, Modena, Galleria Estense [Consult. 17 May 2020]. Available at: www: https://www.gallerieestensi.beniculturali.it/collezioni-digitali/id/39679.

15 Around 300 miscellaneous volumes of cantatas have been preserved: some volumes contain just a few dozen pieces; others comprise hundreds.

16 The history of the foundation of the Accademia de’ Dissonanti is somewhat controversial and debated. It is not clear what role Francesco II played in its creation: the duke probably merely supported its establishment. The Accademia’s key figure was undoubtedly Giovanni Battista Giardini, who was both first secretary of the Accademia and Francesco II’s personal secretary. See: Jander, 1975.

17 On the ‘Spanish’ guitar and its use in the Italian courts, see: Veneziano, 2003.

18 Tiraboschi 1783, 432-433.

19 The instrument features black marble paste inlays with plant motifs and geometric friezes that completely decorate both the front of the body and the fingerboard. Marble musical instruments were part of the friendly relationship of exchange between the Cybo-Malaspina and Este courts. A marble harpsichord also arrived in Modena, the only one of its kind in the world, along with four flutes, a violin and a cornet. The instruments are now preserved and exhibited at the Galleria Estense in Modena. See: GRANDI, Michele Antonio, Chitarra di marmo, Modena, Galleria Estense [Consult. 17 May 2020]. Available at: www: https://www.gallerie-estensi.beniculturali.it/opere/chitarra/.

20 San Vincenzo was an «Este» church thanks to Francesco I’s involvement in its construction. See: Soli, 1974

21 Namely «round».

22 Modena was one of the most remarkable and important centres for the history of oratorio in the seventeenth century. See: Crowther,1992.

23 Duke Francesco II had a special admiration for Stradella’s musical works and collected his compositions even after the musician’s death. Thanks to the Este sovereign, about half of his musical production is now preserved in the Biblioteca Estense’s music collection. See: Gianturco, 1983.

24 The Theatine congregation of San Carlo was responsible for educating the children of the ruling class at the Collegio dei Nobili and was involved in music instruction and activities that took place in the congregation’s small chapel, which was also controlled by the duke. See: Chiarelli 1992; Lorenzetti, 1997.

25 Martinelli Braglia, 2019; Martinelli Braglia, 2016; Martinelli Braglia 2007, 17-50.

26 In 1705, the son of Decio Fontanelli, the Marquis Giulio, sold «the public theatre of comedies» to Count Teodoro Rangoni. In the nineteenth century the theatre was expanded in various ways; in 1816, it was renamed the «Teatro Comunale di Via Emilia» and in 1842 the nowadays Teatro Comunale was opened. See: Martinelli Braglia, 2007, 20.

27 On funerals of the House of Este see Lucchi, 2002.

28 The ephemeral apparati, which were particularly used in the Baroque period for special celebratory events such as victory marches and religious festivals, were made with materials that were fast and easy to handle, such as wood and stucco, which imitated precious metals and marbles. Disassembled at the end of the ceremonies and later recycled on similar occasions, these apparati have only survived through engravings and reports from the period.

29 «Nello stato di Sua Altezza Serenissima non vi sono altre voci di concerto, che quelle del Signore Daino, e Signore Marzio, onde sarà necessario chiamare le altre da Bologna, Ferrara, e Parma escludendo però tutti li Musici de Prencipi, e si figura, che il numero di Musici, et Instromenti forestieri possa ascendere a venti persone incirca». ASMO, Casa e Stato, b. 345, fasc. 2, «Funerale». See: Sirocchi, 2020.

30 Giovanni Battista Spaccini’s chronicle is a valuable account that offers a vivid insight into the most important events in the city of Modena. Spaccini produced nine volumes of chronicles: the first two rework the diaries of Iacopino and Tommasino Lancellotti, while the rest report the episodes that Spaccini witnessed between 1588 and 1636.

31 Spaccini, 1999, 105-106.

32 Allacci, 1654, 93-94.

33 Graziani, who was born in Urbino but was Modenese by adoption, combined a poetic inclination with the art of diplomacy: from 1637 to 1660 he composed all the librettos for the celebratory tournaments held at court. See: Tarzia 2002.Benedetto Ferrari (1597-1681) was also known as Benedetto della Tiorba since he was an excellent theorbist. Born in Reggio Emilia, he worked in Rome, Parma and Venice, principally devoting himself to opera composition. He was based in Modena from 1623 to 1637, and a second time from 1653, after being appointed master of the ducal chapel by Francesco I d’Este. See: Whenham, 2001.

34 Graziani, 1660, 7.

35 «Era il Teatro si vago nella dipositione, si attrativo nel colorito, e si pellegrino nell’ordine, che esso solo havrebbe potuto servire di sufficiente spettacolo, per appagare il gusto, e sodisfare la curiosità de riguardanti. Sorgeano d’og’intorno comodi scalini, che rappresentavano finissimo marmo, e che venivano con bella proportione interrotti da sei porte di eguale grandezza e distanza ne lati del teatro […] Quattro delle sei porte sudette finivano in alte Torri adorne di varie colonne sparse di vene d’oro e d’argento, e che su la cima sostenevano ciascuna di loro due grandi Aquile Estensi […]». Graziani, 1660, 6.

36 Graziani, 1660, 7.

37 ASMO, Archivio per Materie, Spettacoli, 9/A.

38 ASMO, Archivio per Materie, Spettacoli, 9/A.

39 The project arises from the parallel study of two fundamental collections for the Este history: the music and the cartographic collections preserved today at the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria. The group leading this project is composed by the geographer Sara Belotti, the engineer Lorenzo Baraldi and me. The platform has the support of Interdepartmental Center on digital humanities-University of Modena and Reggio Emilia-DHMore. See: Fiore-Belotti 2020.

40 Digital cartography, with the support of the latest software, in particular GIS (geographic information system) technology, enables observation of changes in the local area, for example by superimposing historical maps on satellite images. For musicological research purposes, cartography is very useful for locating music production centres within the urban context, improving knowledge of places and music production and dissemination methods and above all understanding how geographical areas and musical expression have interacted with and influenced each other. Currently, the historical disciplines and especially musicology are showing great interest in the study of music production in relation to the urban context.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1 - Ducal Licence
Légende The document includes the names of six members of the «Compagnia dei Violini» and the authorization issued by the duke permitting them to play in the streets and squares of the duchy
Crédits State Archive, Modena (ASMO), Archivio per Materie, b. 3. By courtesy of State Archive of Modena – Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Italy.
URL http://books.openedition.org/cidehus/docannexe/image/16980/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Figure 2 - Drawing of an ephemeral theatre
Crédits Girolamo Graziani, Il Trionfo della Virtù, 1660. Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena. By courtesy of Gallerie Estensi, Modena
URL http://books.openedition.org/cidehus/docannexe/image/16980/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 234k
Titre Figure 3 - Drawing of the costume used by infantrymen
Crédits Girolamo Graziani, Il Trionfo della Virtù, 1660. Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena. By courtesy of Gallerie Estensi, Modena
URL http://books.openedition.org/cidehus/docannexe/image/16980/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 197k

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