Monday, November 01, 2010

No-one expects the Italian Inquisition

The title page of Giulio Caccini's songbook 'Le Nuove Musiche, published in Venice (and available online from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France). It's a classic work, introducing the new style of solo song with figured bass continuo, and containing such favourites as 'Amarilli mia bella'. Caccini was one of the first players of the newly-invented chitarrone, and explains in his preface how the songs are to be accompanied by this instrument. The preface also sets out in some detail the ways in which the singer can ornament the vocal line, and the songs themselves show this in elaborate practice.

But before getting to this, there's a hurdle to be jumped...

"I, Brother Francesco Tibaldi Fiorentino of the Minori Conventuali have read these madrigals in music by Signor Giulio Caccini Romano, and being composed in the matter of worldly love, I have found nothing in them repugnant to the catholic faith, nor against the precepts of the holy church, republics or princes, and in faith of this I have written these four verses in my own hand in Santa Croce of Florence, on the last day of June 1602, with the dedicatory letter to Signor Lorenzo Salviati and another to the Readers.

The printing is allowed, with the permission of the Father Inquisitor, the 1st of July 1602. Cos. Vicar of Florence.

Granted licence to print them in Florence. In quorum fidem. Florence, the 1st of June 1602. The Inquisitor of Florence."

The title page shows a date of 1601. So it looks as though the censorship process delayed the publication by at least six months. Bureaucracies, always reliably slow.