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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 1 (1995) No. 1

Far il buon concerto:
Music at the Venetian Scuole Piccole in the Seventeenth Century**

Jonathan Glixon*

1. Introduction

2. The Venetian Scuole Piccole

3. The Scuola dello Spirito Santo


1. Introduction

[1.1] Accounts of sacred musical life in Italian cities have usually tended to focus on the activities of the court or cathedral chapel while ignoring other institutions or considering them only in passing. Though the central chapel was certainly the most prestigious of the musical establishments in these cities, recent work has shown that other institutions were vital contributors to cultural life, bringing polyphonic music to great numbers of citizens who might never have had the opportunity to hear court or cathedral musicians. In some cases, these smaller institutions were, in fact, centers for a separate and distinct musical culture that also had significant influence on the better known chapels. The Florentine laudesi companies, the subject of a study by Blake Wilson, offer a prime example of this phenomenon: their cultivation of the Italian lauda provided an important counterpoint to the Latin musical culture of the Duomo and other city-supported churches.(note 1)

[1.2] The situation in Venice is more complicated. The chapel of the Ducal Basilica of San Marco has, deservedly, long been the focus of musicological studies: it was the musical home of some of the era's most important composers and one of Europe's best known musical establishments.(note 2) More recently, following pioneering work by Denis Arnold, I have demonstrated that a small group of other organizations, the lay confraternities known as the scuole grandi, played a major role in Venetian musical life.(note 3) These six institutions sponsored performances of a polyphonic repertory that included both Latin motets and liturgical music and Italian laude.(note 4) Through processions and visits to churches throughout the city, the musicians of the scuole grandi, salaried and freelance, were heard by a large slice of the population.(note 5) In their use of instruments with voices in performances as early as the late fifteenth century, the scuole grandi might have provided inspiration for the development of the distinctive musical style of late-sixteenth century San Marco. The singers of the Cappella of San Marco itself received important supplemental income for performing at the scuole grandi(note 6) -- this additional money may well have been an important recruiting tool when the Venetian government was hiring new musicians.

[1.3] As one looks more closely, however, the Venetian musical situation begins to resemble one of those Russian matryoshka dolls, with smaller, but otherwise identical dolls secreted inside; in this case however, instead of a single doll, each layer contains an increasing number of them. The outer, visible layer, is of course, the Cappella of San Marco. The next, containing six smaller, but in many ways nearly identical establishments, is the scuole grandi. My most recent research has shown that significant musical activities occurred also at a third level. There were several hundred usually lesser confraternities, known as scuole piccole, in churches throughout the city . The previous assumption was that these were either too small or too poor to have had independent musical activities, but I will demonstrate here that the situation was quite the opposite.

2. The Venetian Scuole Piccole

[2.1]The term scuola piccola was used in Venice to designate any confraternity (either lay or religious) other than the six scuole grandi.(note 7) In the period between the founding of the earliest confraternities in the thirteenth century and the fall of Venice at the end of the eighteenth, there were approximately 450 scuole piccole, with over 200 active at times in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.(note 8) These confraternities were, of course, not all identical in purpose, organization, or functions, but fell into several fairly distinct types, not all of which were present at all times, some with greater interest in music than others.

[2.2] The largest group of scuole piccole, including all of those I will discuss in this article, were those that can be described by the general term "devotional confraternities."(note 9) Members of such organizations gathered together in their devotion to a patron saint or to the Virgin, centered at an altar in a parish or monastic church. Members, sometimes including women, were required to pay an entrance fee and dues and to attend regular meetings and religious ceremonies. The benefits to members were primarily spiritual, most importantly after death: the scuola provided a burial (with the members in attendance), a funeral mass, and anniversary commemorations (usually endowed in the deceased's will). Such masses, and as many as could be afforded, were considered essential for the salvation of the soul, and were the primary raison d'etre for these scuole. While many such confraternities match the appelation "piccola", with memberships of fewer than fifty, a number had over a hundred brothers, and some were actually larger than the legal limits for the scuole grandi (set by the Council of Ten at 500 to 600).(note 10) The Scuola di Sant'Orsola (famous for its cycle of paintings by Carpaccio), for example, not only had its own meeting hall outside (though adjacent to) a church, a characteristic of the scuole grandi, but numbered, at times, over 800 brothers and sisters. The Scuola di San Gregorio had a statutory limit of 500.(note 11) The members of devotional confraternities were mostly of the middle classes, ranging from workmen to such professionals as lawyers and notaries, but some also included the poor and, occasionally, nobles. Members of a given scuola could come from any part of the city, though the majority probably resided near the church that housed the scuola's altar.

[2.3] Among the first actions necessary for the founding of a confraternity were the drafting of a set of bylaws, known as a Mariegola, and the conclusion of an agreement with a host church.(note 12) It is in these two documents that the earliest indications of music at the scuole piccole can be found. As with the scuole grandi, these smaller confraternities established a calendar of religious occasions to be celebrated by the members. However, while the calendars of the scuole grandi were quite extensive, including occasions for frequent public processions as well as regular services in the church or scuola itself, those of the scuole piccole were usually limited to the commemoration of the feast day of the patron saint, but sometimes included a few other major feasts, one Sunday a month, or, rarely, a smaller weekly function, either a Sunday mass or, in later years, a Friday Compline service.

[2.4] At most of the scuole piccole, the section of the mariegola specifying the celebration of the feast day was accompanied with a limitation on the amount of the scuola's funds that could be spent, as in the 1622 mariegola of the Scuola della Beata Vergine della Pietà in the church of San Silvestro:

Also, we desire and order that the feast of Our Lady of Mercy shall be celebrated, that the mass should be sung with singers and organ, and that the Guardiano [the elected leader of the Scuola] [. . .] may spend for the celebration of that feast ten ducats of the Scuola's money and no more [. . .](note 13)

While some scuole apparently kept fairly rigidly to these restrictions, often using the funds to pay the cappella of their host church, when one existed, at others the practice arose in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries for the officers to supplement the scuola's funds with their own, in order to provide more and better musicians. They hired ensembles of singers and instrumentalists, sometimes of the highest quality. At the Scuola della Trinità, for example, as I have discussed elsewhere,(note 14) the musicians employed in the last decades of the sixteenth century included Giovanni Croce and Baldassare Donati leading choirs, the wind companies of Gerolimo da Udine and the Favretti, and such organists as Vincenzo Bell'haver and Giovanni Gabrieli. The expenses beyond the statutory eight ducats, sometimes totaling 24 ducats, were borne by the officers.

[2.5] In the early seventeenth century, the splendor of the music began to increase at some of the scuole, sometimes to an extraordinary extent. At the Scuola della Beata Vergine Assunta in San Geremia, new regulations of 1626 attempted to alleviate the burden on the officers who were saddled with the expenses for the annual ceremonies on the feast of the Assumption, which, according to the decree, had risen to "hundreds of ducats," as each newly elected group of officers wished to match or exceed its predecessors. The solution, rather than try to reduce the expenditures, was to increase the number of officers from three to six, thus reducing the individual responsibilities.(note 15) This Scuola had also begun, in 1604, the practice of providing a "musical Compline" every Sunday, and employed salaried singers and instrumentalists for that purpose.(note 16) In the same 1626 decree referred to above, they fired one singer, Zuanne Arzignan (a member of the Cappella di San Marco),(note 17) who had been receiving an annual salary of 20 ducats, and replaced him with two priests of the parish church of San Geremia who had sung at the Compline services for twelve years without pay, and were now officially hired at eight ducats each. The instrumental ensemble was also to be cut: "among the number of instrumentalists, everybody judges that the trombone is superfluous," so that position, with its twenty-ducat salary, was eliminated.

[2.6] In 1639, for the first time, the Venetian government attempted to regulate music at the scuole piccole, and issued an extraordinary decree that was copied into the mariegola of every confraternity. By this, the government, at the recommendation of the clerical authorities, tried to reform the music at the scuole, which had begun to function more as entertainment than as an aid to devotion:

The most illustrious Lords . . . [the] Provveditori di Comun, have learned from the exposition made by the Patriarcal Court of this City how, with the zeal of Christian religion, they have tried to return the music ordinarily performed at solemn festivals to that decorous and devout practice that well corresponds to public piety. The abuses have reached such heights that not only the clothes of the musicians, but also the musical instruments and the words that are sung seem designed more for the pleasure of the listeners than for the devotion for which such solemnities were piously instituted. [Therefore,] the Illustrious Lords, supporting the religious request of the said Patriarcal Court, have ordained that, in future, the Guardiani, Gastaldi, and any other sort of leader of the scuole subject to our magistracy are obligated in the musical solemnities to forbid the use of instruments other than those normally employed in churches, abstaining in particular from the use of warlike instruments, such as trumpets, drums, and the like, [which are] better suited for use in armies than in the House of God. Similarly, they are obligated to ensure that the musicians, both ecclesiastics and secular, wear choir robes, the dress appropriate for use in Churches. Finally, [they are obligated] not to permit that in this music the words be transposed, nor that newly written words, not found in holy books, be sung, except that at the Offertory, at the Elevation, and after the Agnus Dei, and similarly at Vespers between the psalms they may sing motets with pious and devout texts, which are taken from holy books or from ecclesiastical authors. In this regard, [officers] who do not have sufficient knowledge can and must receive instruction from the Reverend Parish Priests and priests of the churches or other learned persons, under penalty for each infraction of 25 ducats . . . (note 18)

[2.7] The results of this decree are uncertain, but extravagant music continued unabated, at least for a few years, as illustrated by the Scuola di S. Catterina di Siena at Santa Maria Zobenigo. At this Scuola, which had earlier in the century usually allocated five ducats for music at its festa, and only once, in 1630, spent as much as thirty ducats,(note 19) the years 1641 and 1642 saw music as elaborate as that at far wealthier confraternities.(note 20) In the first of those two years the officers divided an expenditure of 48 ducats for the festa. In 1642, they hired Nadal Monferrato (soon to become Vice Maestro di Cappella and later Maestro at San Marco), who had earlier that year provided music for the ceremony at which the outgoing Guardiano turned over authority to the newly elected one, and paid him 100 ducats for music at two vespers and mass.(note 21) It should be noted that this is an illustration of the new method for providing music for the celebrations of the scuole that obtained in the seventeenth century. Instead of hiring individual performers or separate companies of instrumentalists and singers, as had been the practice earlier, the scuole now hired a maestro, who bore full responsibility for providing all the necessary performers, as well as the music itself, perhaps even composing new works for the occasion. The sudden rise in expenditures on music for this two-year period at the Scuola di Santa Caterina also demonstrates the central role of the tastes and ambitions of the individual elected officers of the scuole.

3. The Scuolo dello Spirito Santo

[3.1] The continuing importance of music for some of these institutions can perhaps be best illustrated by examining the history of one particularly active confraternity. The Scuola dello Spirito Santo and the convent of the same name had operated, since 1492, under an agreement in which the Scuola provided the music and decorations for their common celebration of the three days of Pentecost when, in the late sixteenth century, a series of disputes erupted. In a declaration to the Provveditori di Comun, the government body that supervised the scuole piccole, the nuns of Santo Spirito complained that

. . . one time several years ago they wanted to sing the great mass . . . but it was done with such little solemnity and music, that the result was rather derision than devotion. Even though a down payment had been made, and the church all prepared, and the best musicians of the city, both singers and instrumentalists, as was the custom, were ready, to spite us the Guardiano of that year decided not to let them do the usual music, but rather remain silent; the next two days, however, having slept on it, he put on the music in the church as had been usual in other years.(note 22)

In 1619, the nuns stated, the scuola had failed entirely in its obligation to provide the music for Pentecost.(note 23)

[3.2] As a result of these disputes, the Provveditori required in 1637 that the Scuola deposit thirty ducats with them before Pentecost to guarantee that the music would take place.(note 24) Though the deposit was made as required, the Guardiano seemingly wanted nothing further to do with it, and after Pentecost the Provveditori had to turn over the money to the maestro who had been engaged to arrange for the music: Francesco Cavalli.(note 25) This was not, however, Cavalli's full payment for what was clearly an elaborate three days of music. Not until the following March did he receive the remaining 100 ducats of his fee. The documents show, however, that even then he was not paid by the scuola:

Note of the expenditure made by the Reverend Mother Sister Faustina Dolfin, Abbess of the monastery of the Spirito Santo on the occasion of providing the festa and solemnity of Pentecost, that should have been made by the Scuola of the Spirito Santo. For the music--D.100 . . .(note 26)

The same problem occurred in 1638, and the maestro for that year, Giovanni Rovetta, was once again paid by the Abbess, this time not until August of 1640.(note 27) It is clear that, though the Guardiano of the moment felt differently, music was an essential (and expensive) aspect of the celebrations of both Scuola and Monastery.

[3.3] The expense, borne in great part by the Rector (as the elected leader was sometimes called at this Scuola), could at times be a real burden. The scuola decided in 1682 to reelect the outgoing Rector, a practice usually forbidden, so that he could have the opportunity to recoup some of his personal funds expended during the two years of his term for music and decorations for the Pentecost festivities.(note 28) In 1690, in an attempt to control the burden, which was discouraging brothers from running for office, a new system was established, specifying not only the total obligation of the officers for the festal expenditures, but how that should be divided: of the 150-ducat sum (it should be remembered that a singer's annual salary at San Marco was considerably less), the Rector would contribute fifty, the Vicario twenty-five, the Cancelliere eleven, and the members of the council one each; the remaining thirty-one ducats came from the Scuola's treasury.(note 29)

[3.4] The next year, 1691, the council voted to reform the method for hiring their maestro di cappella.(note 30) Noting that good results had been seen when such skilled maestri as Giovanni Battista Facin and Giovanni da Pesaro (both singers in the ducal cappella)(note 31) had been hired, they decided to establish a five-year term (instead of the more usual one-time only appointment), in an effort to attract the best person. They also established the duties and obligations of the future maestro (see Table 1, first column):

The said maestro di cappella is obligated to have sung, entirely at his expense, on the three days of Pentecost, at the usual hours, mass and vespers on each day. On the first day [this should be done] with twelve singers [selected] from the best of the Cappella di San Marco, that is, three sopranos, three altos, three tenors, and three basses, [and] with three organs, a violone, two violas da gamba, four violins, four violas, two cornetti, a theorbo, and a trumpet, and also these instrumentalists shall be among the best of the said Cappella. And on the two subsequent days, there should be one eighth fewer singers and one third fewer instrumentalists than on the first day. In each of the said masses there should be motets and sonatas as is usually done [. . .](note 32)

[3.5] There were apparently some problems over the next few years, as a decree of 1695 refers to "maestri" (in the plural) having, despite all diligence, found it to be impossible to hire the required musicians at the specified fee of 90 ducats.(note 33) This amount was increased to 100, and the required forces reduced, as can be seen in column two of Table 1. At the same time, the officers expressed their support for the maestro who had served for the past few years, the young Antonio Lotti, who had been appointed in 1689 a singer in the Cappella Ducale at San Marco, and in 1692 its second organist.

[3.6] Ten days after his election to a five-year term, Lotti presented a petition to the council, thanking them for their confidence, and pledging "all of his weakness to the good service of this Venerated Archconfraternity". He also indicated, however, that he needed to make some changes in the legislated specifications for music at the feast (see also Table 1, third column):

[. . .] having observed the distribution of the voices and instruments, it is necessary on the first day, [in order] to create a good sound ["far il buon concerto"], to increase the number of instruments, and to regulate also the voices on the following days so as not to exceed the decreed expenditure. Therefore, for the good order and practice of the Scuola, I will observe the following distribution [. . .](note 34)

The changes proposed by Lotti are notable in several ways. I will examine first the specifications for the feast of Pentecost itself. The vocal ensemble was apparently to be left unchanged, but Lotti suggested that the orchestra should be enlarged, and changed, to provide better balance. Restoring the number of violins and violas (violette) to four each (the numbers before the most recent reductions), was only the beginning. More interesting are the modernizations. The old-fashioned viole, that is, probably, viole da gamba, were replaced by a cello (violoncino), and the by-now essentially obsolete cornetto was eliminated. The alterations for the second and third days were also significant. While the earlier practice had been to preserve the choral nature of the vocal ensemble, maintaining a balance among the four parts, but simply reducing the numbers from three to two each, Lotti proposed a more radical change, dropping the number to five, perhaps emphasizing soloistic possibilities. The instrumental ensemble was, as with the feast of Pentecost, enriched, particularly as regards continuo instruments. The earlier specification called for an ensemble of seven, including only two continuo players, that is, an organist and a viola da gamba player. The new nine-part ensemble replaced the viola da gamba with cello, as in the large ensemble, but also retained the violone and theorbo. As before, the cornetto was eliminated. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to establish whether any of Lotti's surviving works might correspond to his specifications, though large-scale settings of psalms appropriate for Vespers at Pentecost do appear in his works list.

[3.7] At the conclusion of Lotti's five-year term, the Scuola, because of increasing financial obligations, was forced to reduce their expenditures for music from 100 ducats to 80

[. . .] with the employment of those voices and instruments that can be managed proportionate to the [reduced] expense [. . .](note 35)

Lotti, by now established at San Marco not only as an organist (he would in 1704 become first organist and later Maestro di Cappella) but as a composer, was reelected, but this time, whether at his insistence or the Scuola's is unknown, for a period of only three years. An account of the changing musical situation at the Scuola dello Spirito Santo during the eighteenth century will have to wait for another occasion.

[3.8] Clearly, the inner dolls of the Venetian matryoshka, though smaller, were no less splendid and complex than the better-known outer ones. The scuole piccole were hosts for elaborate musical celebrations that must have made a considerable impact on the overall musical life of the city. Perhaps most importantly, as a result of their efforts to enhance their devotions, and to compete with one another in splendor, the scuole piccole brought music performed by the city's best singers and instrumentalists to Venetians of the middle and even lower classes, allowing them to share in the cultural riches of the Most Serene Republic.

< Return to beginning of article

Table 1: Musical Ensembles at the Scuola dello Spirito Santo

Note: The first figure in each column is for the feast of Pentecost itself; the following figure is for the two following days

               ---1691---       ---1695---      -1695/Lotti-
Singers               12   reduced       12    8          12    5
sopranos             3   by one         3    2
altos                3   eighth         3    2
tenors               3                  3    2
basses               3                  3    2
Instrumentalists     18   reduced       13   7           15    9
organs               3   by one         3    1           3    1
violone              1   third          1    -           1    1
viole                2                  -    1           -    -
violins              4                  3    2           4    2
violette             4                  3    2           4    2
cornetti             2                  1   (1)          -    -
theorbo              1                  1    -           1    1
trumpet              1                  1   (1)          1    1
violoncino           -                  -    -           1    1
Expenditure              D.90              D.100            D.100

Source: Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Scuole Piccole e Suffraggi, Busta 670.

[Editor's note: An alternative view of the Table is available: Formatted table (requires WWW browser with html 3.0 tables support)]

Return to paragraph 3.4; paragraph 3.5; paragraph 3.6

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*Jonathan Glixon (MUSGLIX@UKY.EDU) is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Kentucky. He holds the Ph.D. from Princeton University and is now completing work on a monograph about musical activities at the Venetian confraternities from the thirteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Return to Beginning

**I would like to thank The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the University of Kentucky for their financial support for this research. The staffs of the Archivio di Stato, the Biblioteca del Museo Correr, and the Archivio Storico Patriarcale (especially Dr. Manuela Baraus) provided invaluable assistance. Valuable supporting information was generously provided to me by Giulio Ongaro. A version of this study was read at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, in Danville, Kentucky. Portions of the material will also appear in Glixon, "Con canti et organo: Music at the Venetian scuole piccole during the Renaissance" (forthcoming), and in Glixon, "The Musicians of the Cappella and the Scuole : Collaboration or Competetion?", Giulio Cattin, Francesco Passadore, and Franco Rossi, eds., La Cappella musicale di San Marco nell'eta moderna (Venice, Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi), forthcoming. Author's addendum (11/27/2002): "Con canti et organo . . .” appeared in Jessie Ann Owens and Anthony Cummings, eds., Music in Renaissance Cities and Courts: Studies in Honor of Lewis Lockwood (Warren, MI, Harmonie Park Press, 1997), 123-40. “The Musicians of the Cappella . . .” appeared in 1998; see pp. 301-312. Return to Beginning

1. Blake Wilson, Music and Merchants: The Laudesi Companies of Republican Florence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992). Return to text

2. For music at San Marco through 1562 see Giulio Ongaro, "The Chapel of St. Mark's at the Time of Adrian Willaert (1527-1562): A Documentary Study" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1986). The years through the mid-1580s are discussed in Rebecca Edwards, "Claudio Merulo: Servant of the State and Musical Entrepreneur in Later Sixteenth-Century Venice" (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1990), 68-158. For the early seventeenth century, see James H. Moore, Vespers at St. Mark's: Music of Alessandro Grandi, Giovanni Rovetta, and Francesco Cavalli (Ann Arbor: UMI Press, 1981). Return to text

3. These activities were first uncovered by Denis Arnold in two articles: "Music at the Scuola di San Rocco," Music and Letters 40 (1959), 229-41, and "Music at a Venetian Confraternity in the Renaissance," Acta Musicologica 37 (1965), 62-72. Another treatment of the material on San Rocco appeared as Chapter 8 of Denis Arnold, Giovanni Gabrieli and the music of the Venetian High Renaissance (London: Oxford University Press, 1979). The first broad study was Jonathan Glixon, "Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi, 1440-1540, (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1979). Other general studies of mine include: "Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi, 1440-1540," in Iain Fenlon, ed., Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 193-208 and "Music at the Scuole in the Age of Andrea Gabrieli," in Francesco Degrada, ed., Andrea Gabrieli e il suo tempo (Florence: Leo F. Olschki, 1987), 59-74. A complete history of musical activities at the Venetian confraternities from their origins to the fall of Venice will be published as Music at the Venetian Confraternities, 1260- 1805, in the series Studi di Musica Veneta, (Florence, G. Olschki, forthcoming.) Return to text

4. On Venetian laude see Glixon, "The Polyphonic Laude of Innocentius Dammonis," The Journal of Musicology 8 (1990), 19-53, and ibid., "Textual and Musical Forms in the Laude of Innocentius Dammonis," in John Knowles, ed., Festschrift for Paul Brainard (New York: Gordon and Breach, in press). A discussion of the laude of the Venetian Leonardo Giustinian and associated music can be found in Francesco Luisi, Laudario Giustinianeo (Venice: Fondazione Levi, 1983); but see also my review and communication in Journal of the American Musicological Society 41 (1988), 170-179 and 200-205). Return to text

5. See Glixon, "Far una bella procession: Music and Public Ceremony at the Venetian scuole grandi," in Richard Charteris, ed., Altro Polo: Essays on Italian Music of the Cinquecento. (Sydney: The University of Sydney Press, 1989), 148- 75, and ibid., "Music and Ceremony at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista: A New Document from the Venetian State Archives," in Konrad Eisenbichler, ed., Crossing the Boundaries: Christian Piety and the Arts in Italian Medieval and Renaissance Confraternities, Early Drama, Art, and Music Monograph Series, 15 (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 1991), 56-89. Return to text

6. See Glixon, "A Musicians' Union in Sixteenth Century Venice," Journal of the American Musicological Society 36 (1983), 392-421. Return to text

7. Important work on the scuole piccole has been done by the historian Richard Mackenney. See, in particular, "Devotional Confraternities in Renaissance Venice," in Studies in Church History: Vountary Religion, ed. W.T. Sheils and D. Wood (New York: Ecclesiastical History Society, 1986). His most recent views were presented in a paper entitled "The scuole piccole of Venice, ca.1250-1600," delivered at the conference "Renaissance Venice: Continuity and Change" held at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C., 1993. On the scuole piccole as patrons of art, see Peter Humfrey, "Competitive devotions: the Venetian scuole piccole as donors of altarpieces in the years around 1500," The Art Bulletin 70 (1988), 401-423. Return to text

8. Exact counts are difficult, because of the incomplete state of the records and the tendency of scuole to join, absorb one another or fade to oblivion and be recreated under a new name. Return to text

9. For descriptions of the remaining types of scuole piccole see my forthcoming article "Con canti et organo: Music at the Venetian scuole piccole during the Renaissance." Return to text

10. This legal limit, however, was often exceeded. See Brian Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971), 86ff. Return to text

11. Venice, Archivio di Stato, Provveditori di Comun, Registro z. Return to text

12. The records of the scuole piccole were scattered at the time of their suppression after the fall of Venice, and much was lost. As these manuscripts were often beautifully illuminated, they quickly found their way to auction houses and private collectors when Venice collapsed. They can now be found in libraries throughout Europe and America. The largest collection of Mariegole is now in Venice at the library of the Museo Correr (henceforth Vmc), which owns over 100. Fortunately, the Provveditori di Comun, the government body with responsibility for the scuole piccole, copied the mariegole into twelve large volumes during the eighteenth century, and these still survive in the Archivio di Stato di Venezia (henceforth Vas) in the fondo Provveditori di Comun (henceforth PC) as Registri n-bb. The Archivio di Stato also retains a large collection of other documents of the scuole piccole in the fondo Scuole Piccole e Suffraggi (henceforth SPP). Other documents are preserved in the Archivio di Stato in the archives of monasteries that housed scuole. Finally, some records have remained in the archives of the parish churches. Many of those archives are still in situ (that is, in the consolidated parishes of the Napoleonic era), and are difficult or impossible to consult, but some have been brought to the Archivio Storico Patriarcale (henceforth Vasp); the plans are ultimately for all the parish archives to be housed there. Return to text

13. "Ittem volemo, et ordinemo che nel giorno, che si farà la Festività della Madonna nostra di Pietà, sia cantata la messa con cantori, et organo, et che il Guardian, che sarà di tempo in tempo possa spender per far detta Festa delle danari della nostra scola ducati diece et non più [. . .]" Vas, PC, Reg. BB, ff. 228v-229. Return to text

14. Glixon, "Con canti et organo," 132- 133. Return to text

15. Vas, PC, Registro N, ff. 377v-378v. Return to text

16. Vas, PC, Registro N, f. 374v. Return to text

17. Arzignan was a singer at San Marco from 1600 until at least 1620 (Ongaro, personal communication) and also served at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco around 1641. Return to text

18. "L'illustrissimi Signori . . . Proveditori di Comun, havendo dall'esposittione fatta per parte della Corte Patriarcale de questa Città conosciuto quanto con zelo proprio di Christiana religione si procurir di ridur le musiche solite farsi nelle solenità festive a quella regola decorata e devota che ben corisponda alla Pietà publica, mentre massime sono passati per gli abusi a tal segno che non sono ne gl'habiti de musici medemi ma etiamdio negl'instrumenti musicali et nelle parole che si cantano si vede anzi riguardasi il dileto de gli ascoltanti che la divotione, alla qualle è ordinato l'instituto pio di simili solenità. Hanno li Signori Illustrissimi, confirmandosi con la religiosa applicattione della corte medema patriarcale, ordinato che in avenire siano tenuti li guardiani, gastaldi, e ogni altra sorte di capi delle dette scole all nostro maggistrato soggiete, nelle solenità di musiche non permettere che siano usati instromenti se non gli ordinarii usitati nelle Chiese, astenendosi particolarmente dal uso d'instrumenti bellici, come sono trombe, tamburi, et simili più acomodati ad usarsi ne gli esserciti che nella casa di Dio, similmente obligandosi medesememente a fare che li musici tutti, così ecclesiastici come secolari, vadano vestiti con le cotte, habito proprio da usarsi nelle Chiese, et finalmente a non permettere che in esse musiche sia fatta traspossittione di parole, overo cantate parole inventate da nuovo e non descritte sopra libri sacre, salvo che all'Offertorio, all'Ellevattione, et doppo l'Agnus Dei, et così alli vesperi tra li salmi, si possano cantar motteti di parole pie et devote, et che siano cavate da libri sacri, o auttori ecclesiastici sopra il qual particolare potrano et dovrano quelli che non havessero cognittione bastevole ricever l'instruttione da Reverendi Parochi, et sacerdoti delle chiese, o altre persone inteligenti, sotto pena per cadauna volta contravenendo di ducati 25 . . ." (This transcription is from the copy in the Mariegola of the Scuola dei Milanesi at the church of I Frari: Vas, Monastero di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Busta 100, no. 1, f. 93.) This document is also transcribed, from another source, as doc. 124 in Moore, Vespers at St. Marks, 1:278-79. Return to text

19. Vasp, Parrocchia di Santa Maria del Giglio, Scuola di Santa Catterina, Libro di Amministrazione 1620-91, folios unnumbered. Return to text

20. Vasp, Parrocchia di Santa Maria del Giglio, Scuola di Santa Catterina, Capitoli 1642-1703, Copia deli Rodoli, folios unnumbered. Return to text

21. Monferrato served at San Marco as Vice Maestro di Cappella (1647-76) and later Maestro di Cappella (1676-85). Return to text

22. ". . .Et una volta già pocchi anni volevanno far cantar la messa granda . . . ma con si poca solennità et musica, che causò più tosto derisione che devotione, se bene havevano incaparati, et apparechiati, e pronti li migliori musici della Città, si da voce, come da instrumenti, come è antico costume, et per disprecio non volse il guardian di quel anno lasciar far la musica solita et ordinaria, ma li fece tacere, se ben poi li dui dì seguenti, havendo egli dormito su quella sua opinione, si fece in chiesia la musica consueta delli altri anni . . ." (Vas, Monastero dello Spirito Santo, Busta 16) Return to text

23. Vas, Monastero dello Spirito Santo, Busta 16, no. 9, f. 6. Return to text

24. Vas, Monastero dello Spirito Santo, Busta 17, no. 1. Return to text

25. Vas, Monastero dello Spirito Santo, Busta 16, no. 9, f.11v. Cavalli's autograph receipt, dated 10 June 1637, is on f. 13. Return to text

26. "Notta de spese fatte della reverenda Madre sor Faustina Dolfin, Abbadesa del monasterio del Spirito Santo, per occasione de far far le feste et solenità dele Pentecoste che tocava far la Scola del Spirito Santo. Per la Musicha---D.100 d.-- . . ." (Vas, Monastero dello Spirito Santo, Busta 16, no. 9, f. 17) . This latter document and some of those discussed below are cited in Antonio Niero and Gastone Vio, La Chiesa dello Spirito Santo in Venezia (Venice: Collana Venezia Sacra, 1981). Return to text

27. Vas, Monastero dello Spirito Santo, Busta 16, no. 9, f. 20. This is Rovetta's signed receipt. Rovetta was at this time serving in San Marco as Vice Maestro di Cappella, a post he assumed in 1627. In 1644 he was promoted to Maestro di Cappella, a post he held until 1668. Return to text

28. Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, f.36. Return to text

29. Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, f.95. Return to text

30. Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, f.107v. Return to text

31. On their service in the Cappella, see Reinmar Emans, "Die Musiker des Markusdoms in Venedig 1650-1708," Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 65 (1981), 45-81. The information on Giovanni da Pesaro and Facin is on pp. 76 and 69, respectively. Return to text

32. "Che sia obligato esso Maestro di Capella di far cantare a tutte sue spese nelle tre feste delle Pentecoste ogni giorno, le solite hore Messa et Vespero, cioè la prima festa con dodeci musici de' migliori della Capella di San Marco, che saranno tre soprani, tre contralti, tre tenori, e tre basssi, con tre organi, un violon, due viole, quatro violini, quatro violette, due cornetti, una tiorba, et una tromba, et che anco detti sonatori habbiano ad essere de' migliori della sudetta Capella. Et nelle altre due feste susseguente vi doveranno esser delli sudetti musici parte otto, et sonatori il terzo di meno del primo giorno. In tutte le sudette tre messe vi gabbiano ad essere li Mottetti e Sonate solite praticarsi [. . .]"Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, ff.110v-111. I have here translated "viole" as viole da gamba and "violette" as violas. Though terminology in archival documents is always uncertain, the unusual precision and apparent musical knowledge of the author of this particular document gives me confidence that precise meanings can be determined. Return to text

33. Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, ff.147v-148v. Return to text

34. "[. . .] havendo oservata la distributione delle vocci, et instrumenti, necesario, che il primo giorno per far il buon concerto acresca il numero degli instrumenti, et regalli per li due giorni suseguenti le vocci in suplimento di detto primo giorno per non ecceder alla decretatta spesa, et per buon ordine, et regola della Scolla far la sotto scrita distributione [. . .]"Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, ff.153-153v. Return to text

35. "[. . .] sola spesa di ducatti ottanta D.80:-- al'anno con l'impiego di quelle voci et instrumenti che proportionalmente potranno entrarvi a misura della spesa da esserne praticatti [. . .]"Vas, SPP 670, Notatorio 1679-1701, ff.193v-194. Return to text

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