Musical oratory: Johannes Ciconia’s “Con lagreme bagnandome”

I was pleased to see that my article on Johannes Ciconia’s lament Con lagreme bagnandome was published in Plainsong and Medieval Music earlier this month. This article arose from some of the research that I have been undertaking as an associate investigator with the Australian Research Council’s Centre for the History of Emotions. I became interested in how Johannes Ciconia was using using musical elements in this song to emphasise certain textual features, and the relationship between this approach and the revived practice of public oratory in Padua. In the meantime, a better (albeit mostly dry and legalist) picture of Ciconia’s contacts with members of the humanist community at Padua has emerged in recent publications and in my own archival research, although this is not a primary focus of this article. Instead, by looking at humanist literature and intertexts with other Italian sources, I outline my case for Ciconia’s participation in an emotional community of musicians and humanists at Padua, as part of a larger project looking at this trend over several decades in this Veneto city.

Stoessel, Jason. “Con lagreme bagnandome el viso: Mourning and Music in the Late Medieval Padua.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 24, no. 1 (2015): 71–89.

In the years before his death, Johannes Ciconia (1370–1412) set to music several poems penned by the young Venetian humanist Leonardo Giustinian. One of the earliest of these settings is Con lagreme bagnandome el viso. This article proposes that both the poem and its setting by Ciconia operate within the emotional community of early humanists active at Padua in the decades around the year 1400. The public funeral oratory of one of the high-profile humanists active in this community in Padua, Pier Paolo Vergerio, reveals a renewed interest in ancient rhetoric that was instrumental in the development of new modes of self-expression within this emotional community. Different types of musical repetition in Ciconia’s setting of Con lagreme serve as musical analogues to rhetorical figures of pathos witnessed in the orations of Vergerio.

The author agreement entered into with Cambridge University Press prevents me from posting the article directly on this blog. Anyone interested reading this article can contact me using the contact form in the “About” section of this blog and I shall send a link for accessing the article for personal use.

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