‘Portrait of Gaffurio’ is an apposite title for this collection of essays edited by Davide Daolmi. There is no intention to be comprehensive; instead the six authors have chosen aspects of Franchino Gaffurio’s life and works that have not received much attention, supplemented by a discography by Cecilia Malatesta and a translation by Guido Mambella of Lancino Curzio’s poem on the seven planets and their associated modes, published in Gaffurio’s De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum opus of 1518. Born in Lodi in 1451, Gaffurio had a long career as singer, music theorist, choirmaster, professor of music, and composer. It was also peripatetic, from his schooling in Lodi, where he had become a priest by 1473, to Mantua, Verona, Genoa, Naples, back to Lodi, Monticelli d’Ongina, and Bergamo, returning briefly to Lodi before becoming maestro di cappella at the Duomo of Milan in 1484, a post he held until his death in 1522. His career is traced in Davide Stefani’s ‘Le vite di Gaffurio’. Our knowledge of his multiple lives depends in the first place on the fortunate survival of a contemporary biography by his pupil Pantaleone Malegolo, written c.1500 and attached to the manuscript in Lodi of the De harmonia and its published version. Stefani documents every aspect and refutes earlier suggestions that can now be disproved. The most interesting new find is of Gaffurio’s two wills, of 1510 and 1512, of which more below. Gaffurio was the most prolific music theorist of his time. He was also an assiduous collector of books, many of which he left to the library of the Incoronata in Lodi in 1518. Since he was in the habit of noting his name and the date of purchase in the books, and sometimes the price, it has been possible to trace books belonging to him that are now scattered. Martina Pantarotto surveys ‘Franchino Gaffurio e i suoi libri’, a preliminary result of her ongoing attempt to reconstruct Gaffurio’s library. Thirteen autograph manuscripts are noted, listed in chronological order from 1473 to the last of the four Libroni that Gaffurio had copied for the Duomo, which is not precisely datable (a list that predates the conflagration that burnt it gives the date 1507). They comprise both treatises of other theorists that he copied, many including his annotations, and the preliminary versions of his own books. Next follow eight manuscript books that he owned, some by him, some by copyists who transcribed works for him. Then follow sixteen printed books, including the copy of Ramos’s Musica practica that Gaffurio annotated (much to the outrage of Giovanni Spataro, who vowed to throw it in the fire if he could get another copy), and others that can be identified from the inventory of the Scuola dell’Incoronata. They show Gaffurio’s wide reading in non-musical works, ranging from Peter Lombard’s Sentences to Petrarch’s De remediis to a book published as late as 1521. I agree with Pantarotto (p. 70 n. 9) that a copy of the De harmonia offered for sale by Philobiblon in 2013 has an opportunistically falsified autograph signature to make it appear that Gaffurio sent the copy to ‘amico Ambatie’, a friend in Amboise—a feeble attempt to connect the book with Leonardo da Vinci (at a price of $550,000; see https://issuu.com/philobiblon/docs/15_new_york_2013_book_fair/46, acc. 2 Jan. 2018; it is not in their 2017 catalogue). Caveat emptor! Two more manuscripts connected with Gaffurio follow, including yet another manuscript of the De harmonia (there are five in all; p. 72 n. 10). It is painful to see Gaffurio’s travailed search for patrons as he sought to publish his treatises, from the first to the last; the De harmonia in particular was completed about eighteen years before it was finally published, under the patronage of Jean Grolier. Francesco Saggio discusses the understudied manuscript containing the earliest compositions by Gaffurio, Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, MS 1158, which includes three treatises (one anonymous, and two by Gaffurio when he was gathering teaching material on plainchant) and nine compositions, of which six are signed by Gaffurio. Saggio concludes that the manuscript was most likely copied while Gaffurio was in Mantua, in 1474. Only one of his six compositions had been published up to now, so Saggio’s edition of the others is very welcome. Two suggest a connection with Guglielmo VIII of Monferrato, though the precise occasion remains mysterious. All six compositions, on Italian texts or textless, are for three voices. It comes as a shock to discover that they are patently incompetent (consecutive fifths, awkward dissonances on strong beats, a soprano voice that goes a fifth beneath the contratenor, slow sixths between the lower voices, miscounted tactus in the one composition in tempus perfectum, inconsistent modal orientation); Saggio is too kind to characterize the dissonances as typical of the style or youthful works (p. 82). This makes one wonder how much Gaffurio could have learnt from his teacher Johannes Bonadies (Godendach)—and also how he managed to improve by the time he got to Milan, for the compositions in the Libroni are quite different; did he possibly study informally with ‘his great friend’ Johannes Tinctoris in Naples? Up to that point (1478) he had not written about counterpoint but concentrated on ancient theory and cantus planus. Gianluca D’Agostino sheds welcome light on ‘Il soggiorno di Gaffurio a Napoli e il contesto musicale locale’. This was the period when Gaffurio wrote his first major treatise, the Theoricum opus musice discipline, published at the end of his stay in Naples in 1480. In that city he was immersed in a totally different environment, where he came to know the works of northern composers. But most of all he enjoyed a warm friendship with Johannes Tinctoris; in his Epistula secunda of 1521 he vaunts that Tinctoris gave him his treatise on proportions to correct (p. 106); one suspects that the composer was bending over backwards to be kind to his younger colleague. In fact, one can see from an early draft of Gaffurio’s own treatise on proportions, the Tractatus practicabilium proportionum (Bologna, Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica, MS A 69), later to become Book 4 of the Practica musicae (1496), that he borrowed heavily from Tinctoris, but dropped many of the references to composers and compositions in the printed version. One major difference, however, is that Gaffurio’s examples of proportions are all for two voices, unlike those in Tinctoris, which are monophonic. This makes one suspect that the treatise as we now have it may be later than the c.1482 date assigned by Pantarotto (p. 60), though it is logical from the dedication to Corradolo Stanga that it was written while he was in Cremona (1480–3). It is clear from his two four-part hymns in the Montecassino codex 871 that Gaffurio had improved as a contrapuntist while in Naples, though he allows an uncomfortable cross-relation in the example on p. 113 (the dissonance in the third bar may be a misprint). D’Agostino considers the connection with Ycart, which may have originated in the circle of Bonadies, and the mysterious Fleming Gulielmus Guarnerius, listed among the ‘iucundissimi compositores’ in Gaffurio’s Practica musice. Lastly, he traces no fewer than ten passages from Gaffurio’s Theoricum opus that have strong resemblances to Tinctoris’s Complexus effectuum musices, which seems more than coincidence, though the standard classical sources are quoted; he concludes that it is not clear who came first (p. 123). Even into the early sixteenth century, theorists worth their salt thought it incumbent upon them to write in Latin. Thus it comes as a surprise that Gaffurio decided to publish a treatise in Italian in 1508, though he gave it a Latin title, Angelicum ac divinum opus musice. This is the subject of Denis Forasacco’s essay, ‘Latino e volgare allo specchio nell' “Angelicum ac divinum opus musice”’. Gaffurio hoped to bridge the gap between readers who had a modicum of Latin (or none, as he implies in the case of nuns) and those who were not fazed by the Greek terminology of, say, Boethius. If that is so, he must have disconcerted readers who began with the first book, which though in Italian (except for the dedication) retains Greek terminology and plunges the reader immediately into the abstruse world of proportions and the genera from a theoretical point of view, replete with diagrams. Even when he gets to notation in Book 2, Gaffurio retains Latin terms, which thin out a bit as he proceeds, but clearly Latin comes to him first of all (‘La Parte remota e dicta quella inter quam et suum totum se ritrova in ordine una sola nota’, ch. 5). All the marginal notes remain in Latin. Fornasacco maintains that the following four books are more than a simple translation of the Practica musice; rather they present ‘a case of rewriting and reinvention tout court’ (p. 137). The comparison of passages between the Practica, his pupil Francesco Caza’s vernacular Tractato (a preliminary version of Book 2 of the Practica), and the Angelicum (pp. 138–41) is revealing but marred by erratic transcription (all the abbreviated letters are simply dropped). The longest contribution is Davide Daolmi’s ‘Iconografia gaffuriana’, divided into three sections: the woodcuts in his books, the possible portraits, and the controversial funeral monument. Daolmi suggests that Gaffurio designed the images, and perhaps even cut the early ones himself (p. 144): they are not professional, and the lower-case letters resemble his handwriting. (All the images are presented in an appendix, pp. 191–211.) Gaffurio clearly kept the woodcuts, since they reappear in later versions, even by different publishers. If we consider the images in manuscript copies of his treatises, there are more portraits of Gaffurio extant than one might think. Leaving aside the controversial portrait of a musician ascribed to Leonardo, there are four youthful (the earliest with a beard) and seven adult portraits (the last from 1823), and one as an old man (the funeral monument). Late commemorative portraits of musicians are not likely to be accurate, and in some cases one can discern that they were copied from contemporary engravings, which is surely the case with the portrait in Lodi, taken from the woodcut of Gaffurio playing the organ. Of course the portrait of the musician in the Ambrosiana has to be discussed. Daolmi thinks it very unlikely that Leonardo portrayed Gaffurio soon after the theorist arrived in Milan, before he had published anything, and the singer resembles none of the other portraits (pp. 156–7). He proposes another candidate: Simon de Quercu, who dedicated his treatise Opusculum musices (Vienna, 1509) to the sons of Ludovico il Moro (this hypothesis was first aired in 2010, and can be seen on the website www.examenapium.it/leonardo). The two boys had fled to Innsbruck in 1500 after the French invaded Milan, and there is no evidence that Simon, from Brabant, was a singer at the Sforza court, let alone a pupil of Gaffurio, as Daolmi proposes; rather, he must have taught them at the court of Maximilian, who sheltered the Sforza sons. From at least Eitner on, bibliographical sources claim that Simon accompanied the sons to Vienna in 1508, but the dedication does not say that at all, and the idea that Simon was a singer of the duke of Milan must stem from a misreading of ‘cantorem Ducum Mediolanen.’ on the title page as ‘duke of Milan’ rather than ‘dukes of Milan’. My own suspicion is that the singer in the portrait is one of the highly favoured court musicians. It will come as a surprise to many (as it did to me) to learn that Gaffurio had a funeral monument. Sculpted by Bambaia, it is now in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Treviso, with a 1637 inscription explaining that it belonged to Mercurio Bua, an Albanian mercenary who served the Venetian Republic, who acquired it in Pavia as war booty (he died in 1542). The Milanese art historian Diego Sant’ Ambrogio proposed in 1897 that the tomb sculpture had originally been Gaffurio’s. What led him to this hypothesis was the number of musical connections displayed: Mercury, Apollo with his lyre, Marsyas, three women singing from a book. The tomb therefore had to belong to an intellectual musician, a composer, a maestro di cappella. Whom else but Franchino Gaffurio? Emilio Motta cast doubt on this hypothesis, since Gaffurio had no connection with Pavia; true, he was a professor of the university of Pavia, but in fact he was based in Milan. Daolmi traces the long history of the disputed origin of the tomb and accompanying sculptures, adding additional details that make the hypothesis seem plausible to him (pp. 159–68; the sepulchre is illustrated on pp. 204–9; photos will be on the website gaffurionline, which was not operational under that reference at the date of writing this review, but can be accessed at www.examenapium.it/). One of these details is Gaffurio’s testamentary disposition concerning his funeral monument. The rediscovery of Gaffurio’s two wills of 1510 and 1512, transcribed in the appendix (pp. 169–89), is of major significance. They reveal details about his family: his sister Bartolomea is designated his universal heir in both, but in the second her two sons are named as successors. In the first will Gaffurio allocates the income of 40 lire from a house he owns to his exequies and commemorative masses in perpetuity in the parish church of San Marcellino, of which he was rector (the payments to the priests and servers are detailed down to the last denaro). A mistranslation of the Latin of the second will (p. 169) makes it appear that he had sold the house to the widow Margherita Cambiago, but in fact he had bought it from her in 1509 for 400 lire and now leaves it to the church, this time specifying the notarial act of purchase and the exact location. Leaving property outright to a church was the safest way to guarantee the income to celebrate masses. The first will reveals Gaffurio’s particular devotion to the Eucharist: he requests that his heirs decorate the fenestra (grill) at the left side of the main altar where the Eucharist is kept, and on the side facing the altar have a ‘good master’ paint the figures of SS Peter, Marcellinus, and Erasmus, and on the side towards the church the figures of SS Ambrose and Bassiano and ‘the figure of myself the testator, kneeling in prayer and adoring the holy Eucharist’). No mention is made of this in the second will, so perhaps he had already had the frescoes made. The church no longer exists, so we cannot verify this, but Gaffurio’s devotion to his church and to San Bassiano (the patron saint of Lodi) are evident from the mention in his second will that in 1488 he had had the main altar rededicated to San Bassiano by the suffragan bishop of Milan. Thus it appears that Gaffurio became rector of San Marcellino soon after moving to Milan; heretofore the first mention was in 1495 (p. 41). Gaffurio’s financial situation needs assessing in the light of the grandiose sepulchre in Treviso. In 1510 he had estimated the annual income from his house in Porta Cumana (he himself lived in a house attached to the church) at 40 lire, in 1512 at 50 lire. His annual salary at the Duomo was 96 lire, and his income from his university teaching 77.10 lire, far below that of more illustrious professors. His salary as rector of San Marcellino was 32 lire. In 1494 and 1495, in an effort to augment his income, he petitioned Ludovico Sforza for benefices three times (pp. 41–2), without success. At least he could console himself that Ludovico had agreed to be the dedicatee of the second edition of his Theoricum opus, now called Theorica musice (1492), and his Practica musice (1496), which presumably entailed a financial contribution, but Gaffurio’s efforts to obtain subsidies via dedicatees for publishing his other treatises often were unsuccessful. To purchase this house he had, as he notes, to scrape and save (‘domum … quam propriis peccuniis [sic] labore, studio et vigiliis emi a domina Margarita de Cambiago’). All this casts some doubt on Gaffurio’s ability to order an elaborate (‘regal’, in the words of the Treviso inscription) funeral monument. But more to the point is the description of the sepulchre he himself requests, not in Pavia but in the small parish church of San Marcellino in Milan of which he was rector. In the first will a marble plaque is to be placed before the main altar with the inscription ‘Franchini Gaffurri Laudensis musici rectoris huius ecclesie reliquum est’ : a modest sepulchre indeed, with no mention of his post as maestro di cappella of the Duomo or as professor of music. Two years later he again wishes to be buried before the main altar, with a sepulchre to be built by his successors unless he has had it made before his death. This is an appropriate burial for a modest man of modest means. Thus it seems to me completely implausible that Mercurio Bua’s tomb should have once been that of Gaffurio. It is no doubt the tomb of someone to whom music was important, but of a completely different social class. If I have been doubtful about some aspects of the essays in the Ritratto di Gaffurio, the book nevertheless remains a welcome and worthy re-evaluation of a major figure in Renaissance music and a valuable source of new information; there are still many avenues to explore. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Music and Letters – Oxford University Press
Published: May 15, 2018
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