Christoforus [Cristoforo] de Monte [de Feltro]
- Margaret Bent
(b Feltre, fl 1406–37). Italian composer. Two single-texted motets for four voices are found in the old layer of I-Bb Q15. The text of Dominicus a dono (I-Bc Q15 no.220) includes autobiographical information that he was ‘in Feltro natus’ and that he learned singing in his native mountains. New documentation (provided by Paolo Da Col) suggests that he may not be the same Cristoforo who was employed at Padua Cathedral between 1402 and 1426, as was previously suggested (S. Clercx: Johannes Ciconia, Brussels, 1960). While a sojourn in Padua is not necessarily incompatible with the known facts, and would fit well with the presence of his works in Q15 in the 1420s, an identification is premature in the absence of a more specific name.
He is already described as a priest by 1406 and must therefore have been born by 1383. His patronymic (son of Antonius Donatus) is given in documents from Belluno of 1407 and 1411; archival sources and the fragment D-Mbs Mus.ms.3224, which includes an incomplete Credo by him (ed. in Wolf), call him ‘de Feltro’ (the name ‘de Monte’ seems to have been derived from the scribe of Q15 from the text of Dominicus a dono). A notarial act of February 1406 calls him ‘plebanus’ and, in the same year, Clemente Miari’s Belluno chronicle (Padua Biblioteca del Seminario, MS 627) calls him ‘cantor’, ‘presbyter’, and ‘plebanus de Petra Rubea’ (i.e. Pederobba). Miari refers to an occasion when Christoforus was summoned from Feltro to Belluno, together with other musicians, to provide music at the celebration of the first Mass in Belluno of the new bishop, Enrico Scarampi. From 1407 Christoforus was salaried by the Belluno Cathedral chapter, first (until 1411) as magister cantus and later (from 1412 to 1415) as mansionarius and sacristan. His name is absent in 1416–17; from 1418 to 1420 he was paid as cantor. After an absence from the Belluno archives (which includes the period when one and possibly both his motets were composed and copied into Q15 in Padua) he next appears at Udine, where he is documented from 17 May 1432 to 29 April 1437 as mansionarius of that cathedral; various domestic records record some of his activity in 1432. In the same year Nicolaus de Capua was also present in Udine.
His two motets (both ed. in Cox), are single-texted motets for four voices with equal discantus parts notated in tempus perfectum and show strong signs of Ciconia’s influence; the lower parts of Dominicus a dono (in honour of the Dominicans) are in major prolation. Plaude decus mundi (no.215) was evidently written for the installation of Doge Franceso Foscari in 1423 and is the latest composition to be copied in the old layer of the manuscript. The first half of a Credo (Cantus and tenor) attributed to Cristoforus de Feltro is preserved in Munich, D-Mbs Mus.ms.3224, no.6, p.2.
- J. Wolf: Geschichte der Mensural-Notation von 1250–1460 (Leipzig, 1904/R), vol.2/3, 129–30, 172–3
- R. von Ficker, ed.: Sieben Trienter Codices VI, DTÖ, vol.76, Jg.40 (1933/R)
- B.W. Cox: The Motets of Manuscript Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografica Musicale, Q15 (diss., North Texas State U., 1977)
- R. Nosow: The Florid and Equal-Discantus Motet Styles of Fifteenth-Century Italy (diss., U. of North Carolina, 1992)
- P. Da Col: ‘“In montibus nutritus”: il compositore Cristoforo da Feltre nelle fonti di cronaca e d’archivio’, Umanisti bellunesi fra Quattro e Cinquecento, ed. P. Pellegrini (Florence, 2001)
- M. Bent and R. Klugseder: Ein Liber cantus aus dem Veneto (um 1440): Fragmente in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München und der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek Wien – A Veneto Liber cantus (c. 1440): Fragments in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, and the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna (Reichert, Wiesbaden, 2012)