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date: 04 April 2020

Casulana [Mezari], Maddalenalocked

  • Thomas W. Bridges


(bc1544, ?Casole D’Elsa, nr Siena; fl Vicenza, 1566–83). Italian composer, lutenist and singer. The name seems to indicate an origin in Casole d’Elsa; Giulio Piccolomini claimed her for Siena, but knew little about her. There is no evidence to tie her to any place except Vicenza: as early as 1569 she was described as ‘Vicentina’.

Her three books of madrigals are the first by a woman to be printed. They contain 66 madrigals, of which five had already appeared in anthologies; one more madrigal is found only in an anthology. Her Primo libro de madrigali a quattro voci (Venice, 1568) was dedicated to Isabella de’ Medici Orsini (a noted patron and musical amateur),

not only to give witness to my devotion to Your Eccellency, but also to show to the world (to the degree that it is granted to me in this profession of music) the foolish error of men who so greatly believe themselves to be the masters of high intellectual gifts that [these gifts] cannot, it seems to them, be equally common among women....

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A. Einstein: The Italian Madrigal (Princeton, NJ, 1949/R)
F.-J. Fétis: Biographie universelle des musiciens
A. Newcomb: The Madrigal at Ferrara, 1579-1597 (Princeton, NJ, 1980)
O. Mischiati: Indici, cataloghi e avvisi degli editori e librai musicali italiani (Florence, 1984)