Date(s) - 05/26/2018
9:00 pm - 10:00 pm
L'Oratorio del Ceppo
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The Rome in which, in the first decades of the seventeenth century, Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) found himself, was a gravitational center around which some of the main protagonists of the history of Italy revolved, attracted by illuminated figures like Pope Urban VIII ( Maffeo Barberini), under whose pontificate the arts enjoyed a period of unprecedented splendor that was reflected in the “academies” and in the private apartments of the cardinals (the same who promoted the talent of masters like Bernini, Borromini, Pietro da Cortona or Caravaggio ), where the Roman élite of the time gathered to both satisfy the senses and elevate the spirit.
Pope Urban VIII, however, was not born in Rome, but in Florence, another city where, from the time of the Renaissance, art and patronage had contributed to an explosive development of architecture, visual arts and music. Cultural exchanges between the two cities were flourishing and often the princes or nobles visiting Rome hired painters and musicians with very high fees to bring them to their service.
And so Frescobaldi, organist in S. Maria in Trastevere from 1607, and from 1608 organist in the Basilica of S. Pietro, after the visit to Rome of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando II, found himself in 1627 at the service of the grand-ducal court in Florence until April 1634. On his return to Rome, thanks to his acquired fame, he found his place in St. Peter’s, receiving an increase in monthly salary and some gifts, perhaps to incentivize his stay there.
Seventeenth-century Rome saw all areas of artistic endeavor reach vertiginous heights in every medium. Whether architect, painter, sculptor or musician, every practitioner was called to celebrate its highest peaks. The way of seeing the world coincided with that of listening to it, and the daring prospects, the breathtaking views, the optical illusions that guided the figurative disciplines were translated from the standpoint of sound into harmonies greedy for space and amazing effects.
In this context Frescobaldi first set himself as an incomparable virtuoso of the keyboard, by someone considered the first true initiator of instrumental music; in fact the influence on his compositional style had by Girolamo Kapsberger is now proven and undeniable.
Kapsberger, born in Venice, German of origin, arrived in Rome in 1604 and entered the service of the Barberini in 1624, in the same years as the harpsichordist from Ferrara.
The reciprocal influence is expressed in a typically Italian stylus phantasticus, where even the shapes are often identical: not only the touches, but the dances (the two Bergamasques) the fantasies about the names (the Kapsberger, the Frescobalda) are some of the works that the two composers would have certainly performed together, one in the harpsichord, the other in the theorbo, in the presence of private parties for the whole Barberini family.
– Diego Cantalupi, English translation by Jessica Gould