Bernardo Pisano

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Bernardo Pisano (also Pagoli) (October 12, 1490 January 23, 1548) was an Italian composer, priest, singer, and scholar of the Renaissance. He was one of the first madrigalists, and the first composer anywhere to have a printed collection of secular music devoted entirely to himself.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Renaissance music

Renaissance music is vocal and instrumental music written and performed in Europe during the Renaissance era. Consensus among music historians has been to start the era around 1400, with the end of the medieval era, and to close it around 1600, with the beginning of the Baroque period, therefore commencing the musical Renaissance about a hundred years after the beginning of the Renaissance as it is understood in other disciplines. As in the other arts, the music of the period was significantly influenced by the developments which define the Early Modern period: the rise of humanistic thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic heritage of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; increased innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprises; the rise of a bourgeois class; and the Protestant Reformation. From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in particular, the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish school, whose greatest master was Josquin des Prez.



He was born in Florence, and may have spent some time in Pisa (hence his name). As a young man he sang and studied music at the church of Annunziata in Florence. In 1512 he became maestro di cappella there, a job which held in addition to supervising the choristers and singing in its various chapels. Evidently he was favored of the Medici, for they not only hired him for his church job but gave him a post as a singer in the papal chapel in Rome in 1514, immediately after Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici became Pope Leo X. Sometime during the period 1512 to 1520 he was the teacher of Francesco Corteccia, organist and composer to Cosimo I de' Medici.

Florence Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Pisa Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Pisa is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, straddling the Arno just before it empties into the Ligurian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower, the city of over 91,104 residents contains more than 20 other historic churches, several medieval palaces, and various bridges across the Arno. Much of the city's architecture was financed from its history as one of the Italian maritime republics.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Pisano remained based in Rome for the rest of his life. In addition to singing in the papal chapel choir, he acquired ecclesiastical benefices from the Pope, including one each at the cathedrals of Seville and Lerida. Between 1515 and 1519 he traveled between Florence and Rome, holding musical positions in both cities, but in 1520 he returned to Rome, except for occasional visits to Florence.

A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria such as a stipend and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.

Seville Place in Andalusia, Spain

Seville is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, Spain. It is situated on the plain of the river Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as sevillanos or hispalenses, after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis. Seville has a municipal population of about 690,000 as of 2016, and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain and the 30th most populous municipality in the European Union. Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. Seville is also the hottest major metropolitan area in the geographical Southwestern Europe, with summer average high temperatures of above 35 °C (95 °F).

Pisano made the mistake of returning to Florence in 1529, during the three-year period of republican government, the result of a successful coup d'état against the Medici. Since he had obviously close connections to the Medici, he was accused of being a spy for the papacy, seized, imprisoned, and put to torture. In September 1529 the famous siege of Florence began, and he was released. In 1530 Florence was captured by papal troops and the Medici returned to power. After escaping alive from his former home, he returned to Rome to stay.

In 1546 Pope Paul III appointed him maestro di cappella of his private chapel, a position which he only held for two years, for he died in 1548. Among the singers in this elite group was Jacques Arcadelt, who was to become even more famous than Pisano as a madrigal composer.

Pope Paul III Pope

Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549.

Jacques Arcadelt Netherlandish composer of the Renaissance

Jacques Arcadelt was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals; his first book of madrigals, published within a decade of the appearance of the earliest examples of the form, was the most widely printed collection of madrigals of the entire era. In addition to his work as a madrigalist, and distinguishing him from the other prominent early composers of madrigals – Philippe Verdelot and Costanzo Festa – he was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.

Music and influence

While Pisano wrote sacred music in a sober, homophonic style, probably intended to be used during his tenure as maestro di cappella at Ss. Annunziata, it was as a composer of secular music that he was most influential. Pisano is arguably the first madrigalist. In 1520, Venetian printer Ottaviano Petrucci published his Musica di messer Bernardo Pisano sopra le canzone del Petrarcha, a collection of settings of Petrarch influenced by the literary theories of Pietro Bembo; while the pieces in the collection were not yet called "madrigals", they contained several features recognized in retrospect as distinctive of the genre: the set serious texts, the placement of words and accents was done carefully, and they contained word-painting. This publication was also the first collection of secular music by a single composer ever to be printed; previous publications, in the brief two decades since moveable type had first been used for printing music, had been anthologies only. [1]

Ottaviano Petrucci was an Italian printer. His Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a collection of chansons printed in 1501, is commonly misidentified as the first book of sheet music printed from movable type. Actually that distinction belongs to the Roman printer Ulrich Han's Missale Romanum of 1476. Nevertheless, Petrucci's later work was extraordinary for the complexity of his white mensural notation and the smallness of his font, and he did in fact print the first book of polyphony using movable type. He also published numerous works by the most highly regarded composers of the Renaissance, including Josquin des Prez and Antoine Brumel.

Pietro Bembo Catholic cardinal, and poet

Pietro Bembo, O.S.I.H. was an Italian scholar, poet, literary theorist, member of the Knights Hospitaller and a cardinal. He was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language, specifically Tuscan, as a literary medium, codifying the language for standard modern usage. His writings assisted in the 16th-century revival of interest in the works of Petrarch.

The slightly later composers who became famous masters of the madrigal genre Costanzo Festa, Jacques Arcadelt, Philippe Verdelot were aware of his work and copied some of his stylistic traits.

Pisano's early secular music is typical of Italian music of the first two decades of the 16th century: light, rhythmically active, usually homophonic, containing frequent repetition, and generally for three voices. Most of these pieces are ballatas or canzonettas. His later secular music, including the important collection of 1520, the first printed book of secular music dedicated to the work of a single composer, contains music which is best defined as madrigalian (although he did not use the term). Poetry is sometimes serious, and sometimes humorous; seven poems by Petrarch are represented. The music carefully attempts to convey the emotion expressed by the poem being set. Often the last line of the text is repeated for emphasis, a peculiarity which was to become a defining feature of the early madrigal. Texturally, the music varies between homophonic and polyphonic passages, as well as between passages for groups of two, three, and four singers together.

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Costanzo Festa Italian composer

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Mattio Rampollini was an Italian composer of the Renaissance, active in Florence. Employed by the Medici, he was a colleague of the more famous Francesco Corteccia, and was noted for his madrigals, some composed for the opulent entertainments of the Medici court. He is mainly known as a contributing composer to the Intermedio of 1539.

Domenico Maria Ferrabosco (Ferabosco) was an Italian composer and singer of the Renaissance, and the eldest musician in a large prominent family from Bologna. He spent his career both in Bologna and Rome. His surviving music is all vocal, consisting of madrigals and motets, although he is principally known for his madrigals, which musicologist Alfred Einstein compared favorably to those of his renowned contemporary Cipriano de Rore.

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Frank (Anthony) D'Accone is an American musicologist. D'Accone is the author of pioneering documentary studies of the musicians and institutions that produced the music of the Florentine and Siennese Renaissance. His many modern editions of the music of this culture made available to present-day performers and scholars for the first time in several centuries a full and wide-ranging picture of the musical life in Tuscany during the Renaissance. His body of work “substantially extends current knowledge of the music history of the Italian Renaissance.”



  1. D'Accone, Grove online