Additional Info on our Florence Program
Visit this helpful website for background information on Florence:
And here are the texts and translations from our program:
List of images from the slideshow for Trobár's "Music at the Birth of the Renaissance: Four Seasons in Florence"
Opening: detail of fresco, Way of Salvation by Andrea di Bonaiuto. Spanish Chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence. 1365-1367.
L’Estate: detail of fresco, Ciclo dei Mesi, attr. Venceslao. Torre del Aquila in Buonconsiglio Castle, Trento, Italy. c. 1397.
Spirito Sancto: interior of the Basilica di Santo Spirito, Florence.
Nell’aqua chiara: 1) page from Tacuinum Sanitatis manuscript MS: Nouvelle acquisition latine 1673. Milan, Italy. 1390-1400. 2) detail of fresco, Effects of Good Government in the City by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. 1338-39.
Je port amiablement: detail of Effects of Good Government in the City.
Gridavan li pastor: detail of fresco, Effects of Good Government in the Countryside by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. 1338-39.
Che cosa è quest’amor: birth tray depicting Venus being worshipped by Achilles, Tristan, Lancelot, Samson, Paris, and Troillus, attr. Master of Charles of Durazzo. c. 1400.
L’Autunno: detail of Ciclo dei Mesi.
Da l’alta Luce: detail of aisle frescoes depicting Christ, St. Miniatus, and Julian by Jacopo da Firenze. San Miniato al Monte, Florence. 1409.
A poste messe: page from Tacuinum Sanitatis.
Isabella: detail of fresco, The Three Dead and the Three Living and the Triumph of Death by Buonamico Buffalmacco. Camposanto, Pisa. 1338-39.
Godi, Firençe: marble statue, Florence Triumphant over Pisa by Giambologna. Florence. 1565.
A voi, gente: fresco, The Last Judgment by Giotto. Cappella Scrovegni, Padua. c. 1305.
L’Inverno: detail of Ciclo dei Mesi.
Agnus Dei: fresco, Scenes from the Life of Christ: Crucifixion by Giotto. Cappella Scrovegni, Padua. c. 1305.
La neve: Tuscan woods covered in snow.
Benedicamus: detail of Way of Salvation.
Lamento di Tristano, La Rotta: pages from Tacuinum Sanitatis.
Verbum caro: panel, Madonna con Bambino, attr. Altichiero Da Zevio. Verona. c. 1390.
La Primavera: detail of Ciclo dei Mesi.
Victimae paschali: 1) detail of panel: The Resurrection by Andrea di Bartolo. Siena. c. 1390-1410. 2) detail of fresco Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb by Fra Angelico. Basilica di San Marco, Florence. 1440-42.
Ortorum virentium: detail of panel: La Maestà di Massa Marittima by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Massa Marittima, Italy. c. 1335.
Lucida pecorella: lambies.
Saltarello, Ecco la primavera: page from Tacuinum Sanitatis.
Confusingly, the period known as the Trecento refers to what we call the fourteenth century. Trecento, or 1300s, actually makes a bit more sense.
The Romans who founded the city originally named it Florentia, a Latin word meaning “flourishing” or “flowering,” but over the centuries its name took on various forms including Fiorentia, Firençe, and the modern Italian spelling, Firenze.
Candles were essential to laudesi companies who most often met at night, after dark, either in their churches or on the street for processions. Most companies actually had a separate account book just to track the money spent on candles.
Originally, laude were fairly syllabic and simple and probably sung by the whole assembled company. According to surviving account books from some of the Florentine laudesi, they began hiring boys as solo singers in the mid-fourteenth century. By the turn of the century, most laudesi companies employed a few boys, at least three male singers, and a fiddle player.
We know very little about the practices of medieval performers and must glean information from whatever sources we can. One source for the trecento is the Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, himself a native of Florence or its environs. His characters flee for ten days from the plague, which has taken over Florence, and to while away the time take turns singing songs and telling tales, some of which mention musical performance as well. Boccaccio describes singing and dancing to ballate, dancing a carol, performing istampitte, and accompanying voices on the lute and the vielle.
The madrigal was the most popular form for Italian secular song in the first half of the fourteenth century. It usually has two terzetti or stanzas followed by a concluding ritornello.
In the mid-fourteenth century, the more simple form of the polyphonic ballata rose in popularity. The ballata shows its roots in dance music by its name which comes from ballare, to dance. A refrain song, it shares its form with the French virelai: AbbaA.
Sacred and secular rubbed shoulders in trecento Florence: church clerics also wrote secular polyphony, lay merchants belonged to laudesi companies and composed ballate, and professional composers also played or sang for local churches and lauda services. In the Decameron, Boccaccio’s ten story-tellers first meet in the Church of Santa Maria Novella, itself home to laudesi.