In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Ritratto di Gaffurio ed. by Davide Daolmi
  • Bonnie J. Blackburn
Ritratto di Gaffurio. Ed. by Davide Daolmi. Pp. 244 Studi e Saggi 3. (Libreria Musicale Italiana, Lucca, 2017. €30. ISBN 978-88-7096-910-8.)

'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, 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...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 104-107
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.