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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 19 (2013) No. 1

Published 2017

Maurizio Cazzati (1616–1678) musico guastallese: Nuovi studi e prospettive metodologiche. Studi e ricerche per la storia della musica a Guastalla 1. Edited by Paolo Giorgi. Guastalla: Associazione culturale “Giuseppe Serassi,” 2009. [272 pp. ISBN: 978-8-890-30204-6; 8-890-30204-6. €40.]

Reviewed by Gregory Barnett*

1. Introduction

2. Essays Toward a Biography of the Composer

3. On the Editing of Cazzati’s Music

4. Documents from the CazzatiArresti Polemic

5. A Bibliography of Secondary Literature


1. Introduction

1.1 Maurizio Cazzati ought to command our attention: he was one of the most prolific composers of the seventeenth century, one who produced copiously in every genre of his day except for opera (and among his sixty-six published works are the earliest known trumpet sonatas); he held the prestigious position of maestro di cappella at the Bolognese basilica of S. Petronio; and he was the target of a bitter and damaging attack made by his resentful colleagues, Giulio Cesare Arresti and Lorenzo Perti. And yet, Cazzati has received mostly glances from scholars rather than stares. Little of his abundant music is available in modern edition, and most of that exists in facsimile reproductions. And aside from Ursula Brett’s published dissertation on the so-called CazzatiArresti polemic, there has been no book on Cazzati until this one, a multiauthor volume edited by Paolo Giorgi.

1.2 The scope of this book is not to recount the composer’s life and works exhaustively, but instead to prepare the way for what is hoped to be sustained scholarly attention in the future by providing an updated catalogue of Cazzati’s published music, transcribed documents not previously published, and a handful of articles that afford us a glimpse at Cazzati’s musical life and its consequences. Giorgi thus intends this book to be, as he says (Introduzione), “il primo passo di un ben più ampio progetto” (8) [the first step toward a much more ample project] that will include a critical edition of the music.

2. Essays Toward a Biography of the Composer

2.1 The content of this hopeful book, typical of multiauthored works on the whole, ranges in quality. The essays begin with Antonio Moccia’s biographical sketch of Cazzati, which is updated from a 1993 article in the Rivista internazionale di musica sacra that exists in an even earlier version as the second chapter of Moccia’s tesi di laurea (1992). Moccia’s biography offers no less than the authoritative study of Cazzati’s life: it is painstaking in its research and thus rich in detail about the composer and the institutions that shaped his career. Even those familiar with Cazzati’s biography will learn from this essay, particularly about Cazzati’s early activities before his 1648 transfer to Ferrara, and his final years, after his return to Mantua. As Moccia convincingly argues, the crucial ingredient in Cazzati’s professional success—beyond his sheer productivity and ambition—was his managerial skill and adeptness at cultivating good relations with the local aristocracy that enabled him to lead a succession of musical ensembles in Mantua, Ferrara, Bergamo, and Bologna with distinction. It was in Bologna, however, that Cazzati’s reforming zeal caused a backlash that led to the polemic over his competence as a composer.

2.2 Following the biography is Paolo Giorgi’s catalogue of Cazzati’s published works. This is more than just the detailed listing of works; Giorgi also includes a substantial essay on Cazzati and music printing, where he points out how a few Bolognese publishers—Benacci, Pisarri, and Dozza—took up music printing in the late 1650s and early 1660s at Cazzati’s initiative and printed only his music. In 1665 Cazzati began to publish with Marino Silvani, but, according to Giorgi, he revised that relationship in 1667 so that he could act as his own editor/publisher but still use Silvani’s presses. Giorgi shows this by comparing systems of alphanumeric designations—Silvani’s and that used for Cazzati’s publications without a printer’s name—that were used to keep track of what to print on each section of a folio. Giorgi’s observations and discoveries add valuable insight into Cazzati’s impact on Bolognese music publishing at the very moment in which Bologna began to challenge Venetian dominance of music publishing. On the basis of Giorgi’s research, we can now see that it was Cazzati himself who led the way, with younger composers following his example to publish their music too.

2.3 The catalogue lists all Cazzati’s publications, including reprints, with complete title-page inscriptions and dedications, plus contents, source information, and bibliographic references (e.g., RISM; Sartori, Bibliografia della musica strumentale; Gaspari, Catalogo del Liceo Musicale). By compiling this list, Giorgi has been able to eliminate or correct a few RISM listings and to discover editions that were published but do not survive today. Thus the larger picture of Cazzati’s oeuvre has been significantly updated. In spite of Giorgi’s painstaking work, however, I have two criticisms of this catalogue: first, Giorgi has chosen not to include manuscripts; and second, he does not include incipits. Giorgi pleads a lack of information (scarsa reperibilità di informazioni [29]) about manuscripts containing Cazzati’s music, but the detailed list of sources that Oscar Mischiati included in his entry on Cazzati in the Dizionario biografico degli italiani—including library shelf numbers and some concordances with the published works—offers an excellent point of departure. The decision not to carry that important work forward is a missed opportunity. And then, incipits from Cazzati’s published oeuvre would have furnished a valuable tool for a more systematic study of his music in manuscript, helping to determine whether there are further concordances with the printed music.

3. On the Editing of Cazzati’s Music

3.1 The essay that follows the catalogue is Francesco Saggio’s “Prime osservazioni e alcune proposte per l’edizione critica delle opere di Maurizio Cazzati” [Initial observations and some proposals for a critical edition of the works of Maurizio Cazzati]. The observations pertain largely to the past treatments, here deemed poor, of Cazzati’s music among twentieth-century editors, and the proposals center on criteria for a future critical edition. As reasonable as this might seem, many editors will know that this is the territory of debates engendered by strong opinions on how to edit music. And Saggio has a few of his own strong opinions, mainly concerning the need for firm musicological guidance in the performance of this repertory. Of the Garland series of seventeenth-century Italian masses, including a few by Cazzati, he writes (204–5),

l’eccessiva tendenza diplomatica qui praticata è insidiosa particolarmente per l’esecutore che, posto di fronte ad una scrittura alquanto ambigua, corre il rischio di scadere in interpretazioni poco coerenti [the excessively diplomatic tendency practiced here is particularly insidious for the performer, who, placed before a rather ambiguous text, runs the risk of falling into incoherent performances].

Facsimile editions are similarly problematic in Saggio’s estimation because they lull performers into a sense of fidelity to historical performing standards that is necessarily false without musicological intervention. While Saggio mentions (207) the usefulness of a critical edition for the diverse purposes “del musicologo, del filologo, del critico musicale e anche dell’italianista che si occupa di poesia per musica” [of the musicologist, philologist, music critic, and also the Italianist who studies lyric poetry], it is his distrust of presumably inexpert performers that comes through as the strongest need for critical editions.

3.2 His standard for the critical edition, although described almost entirely in abstract terms, likewise comes across as uncommonly severe. For example, he stipulates (211)

Per ottenere una buona edizione del testo poetico il fattore più importante è la competenza dell’editore; per questo si invoca la necessità di affidarla ad un filologo italianista, quando il musicologo non possegga le necessarie competenze linguistiche [In order to obtain a good edition of the poetic text, the most important factor is the competence of the editor; for this the necessity of entrusting the work to a philologist-Italianist is invoked in the event that the musicologist lacks the necessary linguistic competence].

Lest we not comprehend Saggio’s seriousness of purpose and its ramifications, a footnote appended to this sentence adds, “Non parliamo poi del caso in cui l’edizione sia curata da un musicologo non di madre lingua italiana” [Let us not speak then of the case in which the critical edition is handled by a musicologist whose native tongue is not Italian]. Hands off, non-Italians!

3.3 But a reader who might be impressed or even daunted by Saggio’s standards should instead be galled by his example: all this idealistic rigor collapses in the face of Saggio’s own difficulties with the musical notation. In an attempt to explain Cazzati’s rhythmic notation in his first example, he simply gets it wrong (see Esempio 1).

The archaisms of the notation are 1) half notes with flagged stems (see mm. 19, 22, 24, and 27)—he calls them”minimae caudate,” but they were instead known as crome bianche (white eighth notes) or simply as semiminime (quarter notes)—and 2) black whole notes, known at the time as semibrevi nere (or negre, or oscurate). The white eighth notes present no problem here; Saggio correctly interprets them as equal in duration to normal (black) quarter notes. But the black whole notes trip him up (213):

Si veda la mis. 18: la voce ha il ritmo di due minime seguite da due semiminime, e di conseguenza nel continuo la prima brevis [recte semibrevis] nera vale il quadruplo delle altre due … La stessa situazione si ripete alle miss. 21, 24, 27 [Observe measure 18: the voice has the rhythm of two half notes followed by two quarters, and, as a consequence, the first blackened whole note in the continuo is worth four times the other two … the same is repeated in measures 21, 24, 27].

Pace Saggio and to be clear, each and every one of the black whole notes is to be read as a normal whole note (i.e., worth two half notes). Cazzati uses the blackened form to clarify that these whole notes are imperfect, rather than perfect—that is, worth only two and not three half notes—in the context of the hemiola passages where they appear. Saggio may have gone wrong because he wanted each bar line to define a 3/2 measure, but, in fact, Cazzati switches between measures of 3/2 and 3/1.

3.4 Saggio’s error is a serious one, and while it is the only such mistake that he makes in the three examples that he includes, it is symptomatic of the larger problem of this chapter as not adequately thought through: in general discussion, Saggio comes across as overly zealous in the pursuit of scholarly rigor, but, in dealing with some of the specifics, he is not quite equal to the job at hand.

4. Documents from the CazzatiArresti Polemic

4.1 The final chapter presents new transcriptions of documents related to the most famous event of Cazzati’s life: the polemical attacks on the Kyrie of Cazzati’s Op. 17 mass made first by Lorenzo Perti and then by Giulio Cesare Arresti. The transcribed documents are Perti’s “Viglietto,” a letter of criticisms he sent to Cazzati in September of 1659 (I-Bc, MS H.75, pp. 102–3). It was later copied into a manuscript containing Arresti’s criticisms of Cazzati in dialogue form written in 1661 (I-Bc, MS C.55, 3r–v), and it is this non-autograph version that is transcribed here. The second document is Cazzati’s lengthy Risposta alle oppositioni fatte dal Signor Giulio Cesare Arresti, published in 1663. The Risposta names Arresti but first responds, point by point, to the criticisms of Perti’s “Viglietto,” before addressing the contrapuntal solecisms in Arresti’s own music in a postscript to the Risposta. These transcriptions, added to those already made in Ursula Brett’s dissertation, make the complete set of documents in the Cazzati–Arresti polemic available to readers.

4.2 The transcribed documents are prefaced by a short summary of the polemic. No new insights are presented, and a few points reiterated here from earlier studies bear updating. Cazzati’s mass in which the criticized Kyrie is found is given on p. 218 as Missa I Toni (Mass in Mode 1), which is how it is listed in the Cazzati articles by Oscar Mischiati (Dizionario bibliografico degli italiani) and Anne Schnoebelen (New Grove Dictionary). However, Cazzati gave no modal designation to his mass in either the 1655 print or the 1667 reprint; it is simply Messa in both. This is significant because Cazzati was strategically disinclined to name the mode of his Kyrie when challenged about it, probably in order not to be pinned down by his critics to the compositional requirements of a specific mode.

4.3 The later impact of the polemic on Bolognese musical life is another point to examine: specifically, did the Accademia Filarmonica “in fact arise as a type of official league of Bolognese musicians in opposition to the figure of Cazzati [di fatto sorse come una sorta di ‘lega’ ufficiale di musicisti bolognesi in opposizione alla figura di Cazzati]” [220]? William Klenz’s biography of Giovanni Maria Bononcini first advanced this idea,[1] which is also found later in Mischiati’s Cazzati article. But this is debatable, first, because one of the founding members of the academy, Giovanni Battista Vitali, proudly acknowledged Cazzati as his teacher, and second, because Cazzati had a good enough relationship with the academy’s aristocratic protector, Vincenzo Carrati, to dedicate a publication to him. This is interpreted here (220n201) as Cazzati’s futile attempt to become a member. However, an opposing and, I believe, more plausible reading of the dedication—that the academy was cultivating good relations with Cazzati—is given in Moccia’s biographical sketch earlier in the book (25).

5. A Bibliography of Secondary Literature

5.1 A final portion of this volume is a bibliography of sources compiled by Noemi Ancona, which she divides into works of a general nature and works devoted specifically to Cazzati. I welcome the inclusion of Italian doctoral theses, but a fuller account and an updating of Anglophone scholarship would improve this list: to start, Willi Apel’s study of Baroque-era Italian violin music, which was revised and translated into English by Thomas Binckley; Arthur Hutchings’s book on the Baroque concerto; and Michael Talbot’s more recent treatment of the Italian Baroque concerto in The Cambridge Companion to the Concerto.[2] And while Ancona does include what amounts to a rebuttal article by Sandra Mangsen, she omits the important earlier work by John Daverio that Mangsen engages.[3]

5.2 The Italian volume from Howard Smither’s seminal study of the oratorio deserves inclusion, as does Victor Crowther’s book that focuses on Bolognese oratorios.[4] I would also add Stephen Bonta’s work on the use of instruments in sacred music during the seventeenth century, and chapters on sacred and secular vocal music and on instrumental ensemble music from The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music, edited by Tim Carter and John Butt.[5]

5.3 To conclude, there is good scholarship in the chapters by Moccia (biography) and Giorgi (catalogue), and this book offers a useful research tool for anyone interested in Cazzati, with its catalogue of his publications and transcribed documents from the polemic. But there are also weaknesses that leave me hoping for another, better pass at Cazzati.

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