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Charles E. Brewer

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 3, 1472). Italian humanist, architect and writer. His formal studies began at the gymnasium of Gasparino Barzizza at Padua, where he became friends with Tommaso Parentucelli (later Pope Nicholas V). He went to Bologna, probably in 1421, to study law but became increasingly interested in mathematics, and met the polymath Paolo Toscanelli. In 1431, Alberti joined the Papal civil service in Rome, becoming Papal inspector of monuments (1447–55). He held various ecclesiastical posts, becoming successively prior of S Martino in Gangalandi at Signa, near Florence, rector of Borgo San Lorenzo and canon of Florence Cathedral.

Early in his career, Alberti was influenced by Filippo Brunelleschi, to whom he dedicated the De pictura (1435). While in Rome, Alberti expanded his knowledge of classical architecture and sculpture through his survey of the city's monuments (Descriptio urbis Romae...


Nino Pirrotta

(b Rome, 1465; d San Gimignano, 1510). Italian humanist. He was the son of Antonio Cortese, a papal abbreviator (i.e. a writer of papal briefs) and the pupil of Giulio Pomponio Leto and Bartolomeo Platina, both abbreviatores. In 1481 he was appointed to the papal chancery to the place vacated on Platina’s death. He was promoted to papal secretary in 1498, resigned in 1503 and spent the rest of his life in a family villa called Castel Cortesiano, near San Gimignano. There he was the host to such guests as Duke Ercole I of Ferrara, Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, later Pope Paul III. He must also have had a comfortable house in Rome in which in the early 1490s there were learned discussions, interspersed with strambotti sung by Serafino Aquilano. Cortese may have known Josquin, who was a papal singer at this time. He praised Josquin highly as a mass composer in his ...


Albert Dunning

(b Rotterdam, 27/Oct 28, 1469; d Basle, July 12, 1536). North Netherlandish humanist. According to Glarean, Erasmus said that as a boy he sang in the choir at Utrecht under the direction of Jacob Obrecht. There is no archival evidence for this, and no extant documents show that Erasmus had any particular affinity with music. The familiarity with musical terminology implicit in his works may be attributed partly to the teaching of music customary within the framework of humanistic education. Erasmus’s text for the déploration for Johannes Ockeghem (composed by Johannes Lupi, first published in 1547) suggests from its tone of warm admiration that he was personally acquainted with the composer. Erasmus himself was honoured at his death with a dirge by Benedictus Appenzeller, court composer in Brussels to Queen Mary of Hungary.

As far as can be deduced from the various observations made by Erasmus in his writings (often only in passing) his outlook on music was based mainly on his own understanding of the world of antiquity. Thus, even in musical matters, Pliny, Plato and Aristotle are cited as his authorities. Another element that influenced his views on music was theological: his puritanism in music must be understood as a combination of his belief in biblical doctrine on the one hand, and his reaction to the abuses of contemporary church music on the other. He condemned the chansons of his day without exception on the grounds that they had obscene texts, and, following from this, the use of secular melodies as cantus firmi in sacred polyphony. He deplored the use of the organ in church, and considered that magnificent polyphonic music consorted ill with the monastic ideal of silence with which he was familiar from his student years in the Augustinian monastery at Steyn. He also strongly criticized the manners and behaviour of the singers. He called for ‘harmonias sacris dignas’, a ‘music worthy of holy things’; with this dictum he anticipated the statements on music made by several synods and provincial councils. The spirit of Erasmus’s ideas is fully reflected in the musical policy of the Council of Trent....


[Federicus ]

(b Zadar, 1472; d Zadar, 1538). Croatian cosmographer, mathematician, astrologer and physicist. He is known particularly for his ingenious theory of ebb and flow. In 1507–8 he taught astrology and mathematics at the university of Padua and was later active as a physician in his own town. His ideas on music are contained in two published treatises: Speculum astronomicum terminans intellectum humanum in omni scientia (Venice, 1507), which includes a chapter ‘De musica integritate’, and De modo colegiandi, pronosticandi et curandi febres (Venice, 1528). He was not an original thinker and recapitulated some late-medieval ideas, mostly concerning neo-Pythagorean speculative numerology and the theory of musical ethos as conveyed by Boethius.

I. Supičić: ‘Glazba u djelu Federika Grisogona’ [Music in F. Grisogono's writings], Zbornik radova o Federiku Grisogonu, zadarskom učenjaku [Collection of essays on F. Grisogono, the scholar from Zadar] (Zadar, 1974), 143–9 S. Tuksar: ‘Federik Grisogono-Bartolačić (Federicus Chrisogonus): Pythagorean Cosmology and the Mysticism of Numbers’, ...


F. Alberto Gallo

revised by Gianluca D’Agostino

(b Florence, 1325; d ?1405). Italian chronicler . He completed his law studies in Florence in 1360, was chancellor of the city of Perugia 1376–81, and was lecturer on Dante in the University of Florence 1391–1404. His writings include a continuation of the Nuova cronica (ed. G.C. Galletti, Florence, 1847), begun by his uncle Giovanni and continued by his father Matteo, a commentary (surviving incomplete) on Dante's Commedia, and the two-volume Liber de origine civitatis Florentiae et eiusdem famosis civibus (ed. G.C. Galletti, Florence, 1847; ed. G. Tanturli, Padua, 1997). The second volume mentions several 14th-century musicians, including Bartolo, Lorenzo da Firenze, Giovanni da Cascia and Jacopo da Bologna; it also includes a biography of Francesco Landini. For the latter this is the most detailed account to survive (although some of it is now thought to be spurious) and was used as a source of information for references to the composer throughout the 15th century....