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date: 13 December 2019

Florentius de Faxolis [Fiorenzo de’ Fasoli]free

  • Clement A. Miller
  • , revised by Bonnie J. Blackburn

(b c1461; d 18 March 1496). Italian theorist, son of a Jacobus. He entered the service of Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza during his exile in Naples and Rome (1481–2). From 1482 he was a canon at S. Florenzio in Fiorenzuola d’Arda, becoming chaplain of S. Maria della Stella in Milan in 1483. By papal dispensation he was promoted to priest in 1484 at the age of 23. Some time between 1485 and 1492 he wrote a theoretical work of 95 folios entitled Liber musices (I-Mt 2146). This treatise, commissioned by the cardinal for personal use, is notable for its finely executed miniatures by Attavante degli Attavanti or a member of his school; gilded notes on blue staves are used for the music examples. The title page merely gives the name ‘Florentius’; the identification with Florentius de Faxolis, first proposed by Motta (1899), has been contested by Rossi (2007, 2009), who believes Florentius was a Spanish musician in Naples. The work is divided into three books; it begins with an extended treatment of the value, uses, and effects of music and continues more summarily with the elements of music, plainsong, counterpoint, composition, and rules of mensural notation. As authorities Florentius cited many ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval writers, including music theorists, but did not name any contemporary theorists except for Blasius Romero, whom he must have known in Naples and who may be the source of many of his citations (Holford-Strevens, 2009). Nor does Florentius name any composers of renown. He describes briefly such musical practices of his time as fauxbourdon, imitation, and, more extensively, canon. The treatise contains short polyphonic pieces for discant and tenor to illustrate the five genera of proportions; some examples are missing. To conclude the work a Latin poem by the Milanese secretary Francesco Tranchedino praises the treatise as a valuable guide to musical understanding.


  • Faxolis, Florentius de: Book on Music, ed. B.J. Blackburn and L.A. Holford-Strevens (Cambridge, MA, 2010) [incl. commentary]


  • MGG1 suppl. (K.-J. Sachs)
  • E. Motta: ‘Dell’autore probabile di un prezioso codice musicale della Trivulziana’, Bollettino storico della Svizzera italiana, vol.21 (1899), 76–7
  • A. Seay: ‘The “Liber Musices” of Florentius de Faxolis’, Musik und Geschichte: Leo Schrade zum sechzigsten Geburtstag (Cologne, 1963), 71–95
  • E.E. Lowinsky: ‘Ascanio Sforza’s Life: a Key to Josquin’s Biography and an Aid to the Chronology of his Works’, Josquin des Prez: New York 1971, 32–75, esp. 47–9
  • M. Pellegrini: Ascanio Maria Sforza: la parabola politica di un cardinale-principe del rinascimento (Rome, 2002)
  • F.R. Rossi: Un manuale di musica per Ascanio Sforza: il Liber Musices di Florentius (Ms. 2146 della Biblioteca Trivulziana di Milano) (diss., U. of Pavia, 2007)
  • F.R. Rossi: ‘Auctores in opusculo introducti: l’enigmatico Florentius musicus e gli sconosciuti referenti teorici del Liber Musices (I-Mt 2146)’, AcM, vol.80 (2008), 165–77
  • L. Holford-Strevens: ‘The Erudition of Florentius de Faxolis and Blasius Romerus’, Uno gentile et sottile ingegnio: Studies in Renaissance Music in Honour of Bonnie J. Blackburn, ed. M.J. Bloxam, G. Filocamo, and L. Holford-Strevens (Turnhout, 2009), 751–9
  • F.R. Rossi: ‘Di Florenzio de Faxolis, presunto autore del Liber musices (I-Mt, 2146): ovvero “chi era Florentius musicus?”’, Fonti Musicali Italiane, vol.14 (2009), 7–16
  • F.R. Rossi: ‘Excursus sulla coniuncta: ovvero prolegomeni all’indagine sul Liber Musices della Biblioteca Trivulziana di Milano’, Studi musicali, vol.38 (2009), 23–44
  • F.R. Rossi: ‘Leonardo, Boezio o David? Li immagini miniate nel Liber Musices di Florentius (I-Mt 2146) e le loro (im)possibili letture iconografiche’, Fonti Musicali Italiane, vol.15 (2010), 7–15
  • F.R. Rossi: ‘Val più la pratica della grammatica: l’approccio mensuralistico del Liber Musices di Florentius’, RIM, vol.48 (2013), 9–39
  • F.R. Rossi: ‘De modo figurandi notulas: cenni di canto fratto nel quattrocentesco Liber Musices di Florentius’, Gli spazi della musica, vol.3/1 (2014).
  • B.J. Blackburn: ‘“Notes Secretly Fitted Together”: Theorists on Enigmatic Canons – and on Josquin’s Hercules Mass?’, Qui musicam in se habet: Studies in Honor of Alejandro Enrique Planchart, ed. A. Zayaruznaya, B.J. Blackburn, and S. Boorman (Middleton, WI, 2015), 743–60
Milan, Biblioteca Trivulziana e Archivio Storico Civico
Acta musicologica
Rivista italiana di musicologia
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart