The Women Of Renaissance Ferrara

Episodes

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Dangerous Graces - Luzzaschi and the Fall of Ferrara2017031020181130 (R3)

As Europe's nobility scramble for an audience with the secretive singing ladies of Ferrara, the Duchy meets a shockingly abrupt end. The fate of its musical legacy lies in the hand of just one man...

Throughout the 1500s, the northern Italian city of Ferrara was one of Europe's political and cultural powerhouses: ducal seat of the celebrated d'Este family, and home for a time to perhaps the Renaissance's most notorious femme fatale: Lucrezia Borgia. Yet it also had a thriving musical culture - one founded upon the unique talents of a set of quite extraordinary women, who honed their musical gifts in almost total secrecy in convents and at secret concerts held in a tiny room within Ferrara's vast Castello. These women had a huge influence on Monteverdi, Gesualdo, and other luminaries of the early Baroque - yet when the Duchy of Ferrara fell in 1597, they faded into legend. This week, Composer of the Week puts that right. Recorded in studio and on location in modern-day Ferrara, Donald Macleod is joined by Renaissance musical scholar Laurie Stras to explore more than a century of female musical genius.

By the late 1500s, the secret concerts of Alfonso II were the hottest ticket in Europe, with composers, poets and noblemen flocking to Ferrara to hear the legendary vocal virtuosity of its stars Anna Guarini, Laura Peverara and Livia d'Arco. Yet only the most privileged would be granted an audience in the tiny salon, deep in the Castello, where the women would sing and play under the supervision of their music director, Luzzasco Luzzaschi. Yet, just as it was at the peak of its cultural power, the Duchy of Ferrara abruptly fell, Anna Guarini was brutally murdered, and the secrets of an extraordinary century of female music-making were left in jeopardy...

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Occhi del pianto mio
Musica Secreta

Lodovico Agostini
Ecco col nostra Duca; Contrapuncto primo; Quel canto ohime; Mentre l'argute
Doulce Memoire
Denis Raisin Dadre, director

Lodovico Agostini
Enigma: Una si chiara luce; Enigma: Ne la beata vespa; Enigma: Vago augelin
Doulce Memoire
Denis Raisin Dadre, director

Luca Marenzio
Bianchi cigni
The Consort of Musicke
Anthony Rooley, lute and director

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Deh vieni hormai cor mio
Musica Secreta

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
T'amo mia vita; O primavera gioventu dell'anno; Stral pungente d'amore
Musica Secreta

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Aura soave
La Venexiana.

The death of the 'singing ladies' era, when the Duchy met a shockingly abrupt end.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Giaches de Wert and the First Concerto2017030920181129 (R3)

After a devastating earthquake nearly destroys Ferrara in 1570, from the rubble is born an extraordinary ensemble of virtuoso female musicians.

Throughout the 1500s, the northern Italian city of Ferrara was one of Europe's political and cultural powerhouses: ducal seat of the celebrated d'Este family, and home for a time to perhaps the Renaissance's most notorious femme fatale: Lucrezia Borgia. Yet it also had a thriving musical culture - one founded upon the unique talents of a set of quite extraordinary women, who honed their musical gifts in almost total secrecy in convents and at secret concerts held in a tiny room within Ferrara's vast Castello. These women had a huge influence on Monteverdi, Gesualdo, and other luminaries of the early Baroque - yet when the Duchy of Ferrara fell in 1597, they faded into legend. This week, Composer Of The Week puts that right. Recorded in studio and on location in modern-day Ferrara, Donald Macleod is joined by Renaissance musical scholar Laurie Stras to explore more than a century of female musical genius.

Barely a decade into the rule of Duke Alfonso II, the man who turned Ferrara into a cultural and political powerhouse, tragedy struck the city in 1570 as it was hit by a devastating earthquake. Alfonso's accession had already resulted in the flowering of female singing at the court, but now, forced to entertain visiting royalty on the most threadbare of resources, the Duke commanded his finest female musicians to form an ensemble of their own - dazzling guests with their brilliant, shimmering vocal harmonies. This first generation of singing ladies was to gain a pan-European reputation, and set the scene for the fabled "concerto delle donne" - highly-secretive concerts at which noblemen would be treated to an utterly unique, and mesmerising, musical performance. Donald Macleod explores the genesis of the ensemble with Renaissance music scholar Laurie Stras, concentrating today on the music of one of the age's most gifted composers: Giaches de Wert.

Giaches de Wert
Amen, amen dico vobis
Stile Antico

Giaches de Wert
Gratie ch'a pochi il ciel largo destina; Tirsi morir volea
Musica Secreta

Giaches de Wert
Qual musico gentil
Musica Secreta

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Dolci sospiri ardenti
Musica Secreta

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Ch'io non t'ami cor mio; Canzon francese; Troppo ben'puo
La Venexiana

Giaches de Wert
Ascendente Jesu in naviculam
Stile Antico.

How an earthquake in Ferrara led to the creation of a unique ensemble of virtuoso women.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Leonora d'Este and Raffaella Aleotti2017030820181128 (R3)

Revealed for the first time in 500 years: the enigmatic genius of two pioneering women composers of Renaissance Ferrara: Leonora d'Este and Raffaella Aleotti.

Throughout the 1500s, the northern Italian city of Ferrara was one of Europe's political and cultural powerhouses: ducal seat of the celebrated d'Este family, and home for a time to perhaps the Renaissance's most notorious femme fatale: Lucrezia Borgia. Yet it also had a thriving musical culture - one founded upon the unique talents of a set of quite extraordinary women, who honed their musical gifts in almost total secrecy in convents and at secret concerts held in a tiny room within Ferrara's vast Castello. These women had a huge influence on Monteverdi, Gesualdo, and other luminaries of the early Baroque - yet when the Duchy of Ferrara fell in 1597, they faded into legend. This week, Composer Of The Week puts that right. Recorded in studio and on location in modern-day Ferrara, Donald Macleod is joined by Renaissance musical scholar Laurie Stras to explore more than a century of female musical genius.

As BBC Radio 3 celebrates International Women's Day, we feature the story of two extraordinary female composing pioneers - both of whose legacy is shrouded in mystery. Suor Leonora d'Este was the daughter of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, a nun, a singer and - it's believed - the composer of one of the most mysterious books of motets of the mid-16th century. Donald Macleod's guest, Renaissance music scholar Laurie Stras, explains why she thinks this ostensibly anonymous text came from Leonora's hand: making her the first published woman composer in Western musical history. Meanwhile, in contemporary Ferrara, Donald explores the enigma of Vittoria and Raffaella Aleotti, two sisters - one a published composer of madrigals, the other a convent-dwelling composer of motets. Or were they in fact the same person?

Suor Leonora d'Este
O salutaris hostia
Musica Secreta

Suor Leonora d'Este
Ego sum panis vitae; Ave sanctissima Maria
Musica Secreta

Suor Leonora d'Este
Felix namque es sacra
Musica Secreta

Suor Leonora d'Este
Tribulationes civitatum
Musica Secreta

Raffaella Aleotti
Sancta et immaculata virginitas
Cappella Artemisa
Candace Smith, director

Vittoria Aleotti
Cor mio per più piangi; Hor che la vaga aurora
La Villanella Basel

Raffaella Aleotti
Surge propera amica mea; Vidi speciosam; Ego flos campi
Cappella Artemisia
Candace Smith, director.

Leonora d'Este and Raffaella Aleotti, two pioneering composers of Renaissance Ferrara.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Lucrezia Borgia, Tromboncino and de Rore2017030720181127 (R3)

Donald Macleod and Laurie Stras explore the musical legacy of Lucrezia Borgia and her favourite composer (and murderer), Bartolomeo Tromboncino, the "Little Trombone".

Throughout the 1500s, the northern Italian city of Ferrara was one of Europe's political and cultural powerhouses: ducal seat of the celebrated d'Este family, and home for a time to perhaps the Renaissance's most notorious femme fatale: Lucrezia Borgia. Yet it also had a thriving musical culture - one founded upon the unique talents of a set of quite extraordinary women, who honed their musical gifts in almost total secrecy in convents and at secret concerts held in a tiny room within Ferrara's vast Castello. These women had a huge influence on Monteverdi, Gesualdo, and other luminaries of the early Baroque - yet when the Duchy of Ferrara fell in 1597, they faded into legend. This week, Composer of the Week puts that right. Recorded in studio and on location in modern-day Ferrara, Donald Macleod is joined by Renaissance musical scholar Laurie Stras to explore more than a century of female musical genius.

At the 16th century dawned, Ferrara welcomed the most notorious woman in Renaissance Italy to its magnificent Castello: Lucrezia Borgia, new wife of Duke Alfonso I. Their daughter, Leonora d'Este - composer, singer, and nun - was to prove one of the most remarkable and influential musical figures of the 1500s. But for now, the court of Ferrara rang with the frottole, or popular songs, of Bartolomeo Tromboncino - a composer who had fled his home city of Mantua after murdering his unfaithful wife. Donald Macleod explores how the frottola was hugely influential in the development of the madrigal - the most celebrated secular vocal form of the age - and explores the legacy of a giant of the Ferrarese Renaissance, the Flemish composer Cipriano de Rore, and his murky relationship with the notorious Protestant duchess, Renée of France.

Bartolomeo Tromboncino
Nel foco tremo
Clare Wilkinson, mezzo
Musica Antiqua of London
Philip Thorby, conductor

Bartolomeo Tromboncino
Vergine bella
Emma Kirby, soprano
Consort of Musicke
Anthony Rooley, director

Cipriano de Rore
Hor che'l ciel e la terra e'l vento tace
Musica Secreta

Cipriano de Rore
Mia benigna fortuna; O sonno, o della queta humida ombrosa
The Hilliard Ensemble

Cipriano de Rore
Amor se cosi dolce
Musica Secreta

Cipriano de Rore
Se ben il duol
Huelgas Ensemble
Paul van Nevel, conductor

Giaches de Wert
Dolci spoglie; Il dolce sonno
Musica Secreta

Suor Leonora d'Este
Sicut lilium inter spinas
Music Secreta.

The musical legacy of Lucrezia Borgia and her favourite composer, Bartolomeo Tromboncino.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

St Catherine of Bologna2017030620181126 (R3)

Lust, murder, sex, intrigue - and a host of music written by, and for, virtuoso women. BBC Radio 3 lifts the lid on the secret world of the singing ladies of Renaissance Ferrara.

Throughout the 1500s, the northern Italian city of Ferrara was one of Europe's political and cultural powerhouses: ducal seat of the celebrated d'Este family, and home for a time to perhaps the Renaissance's most notorious femme fatale: Lucrezia Borgia. Yet it also had a thriving musical culture - one founded upon the unique talents of a set of quite extraordinary women, who honed their musical gifts in almost total secrecy in convents and at secret concerts held in a tiny room within Ferrara's vast Castello. These women had a huge influence on Monteverdi, Gesualdo, and other luminaries of the early Baroque - yet when the Duchy of Ferrara fell in 1597 they faded into legend. This week, Composer of the Week puts that right. Recorded in studio and on location in modern-day Ferrara, Donald Macleod is joined by Renaissance musical scholar Laurie Stras to explore more than a century of female musical genius.

Donald and Laurie begin the week with a selection of gems from Ferrara's golden age - and hints of the dramatic story to come - before taking us right back to the mid-15th century and the first key figure in our story: composer, poet and mystic St Catherine of Bologna. Famed as a composer, poet, singer and violinist, musicians and poets from around Europe would come to the doors of the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara for an audience with Catherine, who - according to legend -would play for days at a time, and move between song and speech, music and chant.

Suor Leonora d'Este
Salve Sponsa Dei
Music Secreta

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Non sa che sia dolore
Doulce Memoire
Denis Rasin Dadre, conductor

Luzzasco Luzzaschi
I'mi son giovinetta
Toccata del quarto tono
O dolcezz' amarissime d'Amor
Musica Secreta

Anon, words St Catherine of Bologna
Giardino I: Madre che festi
La Reverdie

Anon, words St Catherine of Bologna
Giardino III: Benedicamus Domino; Deh, dime se'l piace
La Reverdie

Anon, words St Catherine of Bologna
Giardino VI: O Yesu Dolce
Giardino VII: O Dilecto Iesu Christu
Adiastema, La Reverdie

Heinrich Isaac, words St Catherine of Bologna
Giardino X: J'ai pris amours

Anon, words St Catherine of Bologna
Giardino XI: Ciaschaduna amante
Adiastema, La Reverdie.

Donald Macleod explores the work of composer, poet and mystic St Catherine of Bologna.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.