Renaissance Political Music
1980, Cowell College, UCSC, CA
The poster for this election year special (1980) read: "Leadership, Alliances, Victories and Catastrophes reflected in music from 1400 - 1625. Includes: Madrigals by Machiavelli himself! Schultz's commemoration of the Assembly of Electors of Saxony! Polish lament on the capture of Hungary by the Turks! Josquin's praise of Louis XII! Celebration of Spain's defeat of the Moors in 1492! Isaac's dirge on the death of Lorenzo de' Medici! and much, much more!"
To Anacreon in Heaven, John Stafford Smith (1750-1836)
This popular tune of the 18th century was the official song of the Anacreontic Society of London, which met at the Crown and Anchor Tavern. Each of the six original stanzas end with the text, "And besides, I'll instruct ye, like me, to intwine/ The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine." Although the original song had no political connotations whatsoever, a later and more politically significant version is the one we are most familiar with today.
- O Dolce Nocte, Music: Phillipe Verdelot (d. c. 1540), Text: N. Machiavelli
- Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 - 1527), Italian statesman and writer, founded the science of political theory with his famous treatise, "The Prince," a practical guidebook for contemporary autocrats. Less known today is his skill as a playwright. This song was composed for act five of his notable comedy, "La Mandragola," a study of stupidity and baseness. It was composed by Machiavelli's collaborator, Verdelot, the "father of the madrigal" and the most famous composer in Florence at the time.
- Vive le Roy!, Josquin des Prez (c. 1445 - 1521)
As the most famous composer of his day, Josquin had many royal patrons, the last of which was King Louis XII of France. This fanfare, composed for Louis XII, is a "riddle piece," in which the music for three (of four) parts is identical, but shifted in time and pitch, while the notes of the remaining part correspond to vowels in the title of the piece (V=U=ut, I=mi, etc)!!!
- Mielic Bogaci Wegrowie, Anonymous (c. 1558)
The empathetic text of the Polish song from the Zamosc Song Book laments the sad captivity of Hungary during the period of conquest by the Turks.
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