“… I would not be pleased with our courtier if he be not also musical …”
“… io non mi contento del cortegiano s’egli non è ancor musico…”
Castiglione, Il cortegiano I, xlvii
If the musical character and the requirements of San Pietro seem reflected in the contrapuntal artifice of the Fantasie, the brilliance of the toccatas—specifically designated for the secular harpsichord rather than the liturgical organ—points to Frescobaldi’s other Roman activity, his work as a free-lance musician and his service in the household of Enzo Bentivoglio.
Enzo Bentivoglio (ca. 1575-1639) has emerged as a key figure in Frescobaldi studies over the past half-century. His activities as an ideator and organizer of musico-dramatic-equestrian spectacles, especially the Parma wedding celebrations of 1628 where Frescobaldi sought employment, reveal him as a leading corago or theatrical impresario and director of seventeenth-century Italy, whose passion for elaborate chivalric combats was equalled only by his passion for actresses and singers. (In Enzo’s last years in Rome his relationship with the celebrated singer Leonora Baroni prompted him to a deathbed legacy “because of the many annoyances he has given her every day”).
A contemporary summed up the qualities that were to characterize Enzo in Frescobaldi’s relations with him: “Entio Bentivoglio: Quick-witted, intelligent, of great riches to succeed in every business and undertaking, big spender, sometimes without cash, an old custom of his family.” One of his contemporaries described Enzo’s nature to him as “founded on quicksilver, so that when you have to do something it is as if you have devoured it with your thought, thus you would wish to have it carried out with [all] its effects.” “Where Signor Enzo is,” the musician Cesare Marotta concluded, “there can be neither idleness, nor melancholy.”
As a concession to the Ferrarese pope Clement had permitted them to send an ambassador to Rome for a term of three years as the papacy had done a century earlier after the annexation of Bologna. Enzo was elected to the post by the puppet Consiglio dei Savi on 8 February 1608 (Fabris 1999, #131). (He had come to Rome at the end of November 1607 but returned to Ferrara at the beginning of February 1608 for the election.) By May of 1608 Enzo was negotiating to rent Palazzo Capranica, the Roman palace of Cardinal Acquaviva at Sant’Andrea della Valle. The transaction was concluded in June and in July Enzo paid sc. 500 for the first semester. His arrival as Ferrarese ambassador was expected in November, but he set out from Ferrara only on 19 November (Fabris 1986, 71) and finally reached Rome on 6 December.
Enzo did not remain in the Capranica Palace. On 12 August 1609 the lutenist Alessandro Piccinini wrote him:
In the meanwhile Your Lordship will be awaited at the house in [Piazza] Navona which, although from what I have understood appears did not please you much, I am sure that as it will please you it will succeed, and indeed the one at Capranica turned out to be unfortunate since it is not at all warm and other details.
(However, in January 1611 Enzo was still paying sc. 100 rent for Palazzo Capranica: Fabris 1997, 91.)
As Rondoni’s phrase “sometimes without cash, an old custom of his family” indicates, the Bentivoglio were well-known as both lavish spenders and debtors. In 1606 Enzo’s income was estimated at 22,000 ducats (almost 24,000 Roman scudi d’oro in oro), in addition to a dowry of 25,000 scudi from his wife, Caterina Martinengo, whom he had married in 1602. Nonetheless, living permanently in Rome en prince was beyond his means, already strained by his brother Guido’s expenses as nuncio in Flanders. (For July of 1609 Enzo paid sc. 55.83, about sc. 672 per annum, to his Roman household, which in December consisted of fifty-nine bocche or mouths.) By 1610 Enzo’s finances were so precarious that when he sacked Francesco Belfiore, his Roman maestro di casa, Belfiore had to accept a broken gold watch in lieu of back salary (Fabris 1999, 85).
Enzo’s greatest financial gambles were bonifiche or land-reclamation projects, especially appropriate to the ill-drained Ferrarese territory. In February-March of 1609, after two years of petitions for concessions, the Bentivoglio received papal sanction for a bonifica, granted by papal chirograph in return for their services to the Borghese papacy. The Bonifica Bentivoglio was overseen by the great engineer and architect Giambattista Aleotti (father of Suora Raffaella, the most famous of the Ferrarese performing nuns), who was appointed perito or expert by Enzo on 4 July 1609. The project was essentially complete in its first phase in 1612. In pursuing the bonifica, Enzo showed himself both avaricious and ruthless, redrawing boundary lines to his own advantage and usurping the property of other owners. As Enzo’s projects sank deeper into financial difficulties, to keep them going he floated monti or bond-issues with papal approval. However, these provided only temporary relief since they required the regular payment of interest on the shares (luoghi di monte).
After the expiration of his Roman ambassadorship at the end of 1610, Enzo spent most of his time in Ferrara, attempting to revive by chivalric spectacles the splendor of Estense artistic life in the cultural desert of the papal legateship. Even before his departure from Rome, he had often left his residences to be looked after by his family and household staff. The necessity for keeping Enzo in Ferrara in touch with happenings in Rome resulted in a rich trove of letters in the Bentivoglio archive. These show that the musicians in his own service were often employed for non-musical functions, and musical tasks were sometimes discharged by non-musicians, as in the earlier Estense court.
When Enzo arrived in Rome at the end of 1608, he aimed to recreate the Ferrarese concerto delle dame principalissime in its last incarnation, comprising three female singers and two male instrumentalists. This was intended to establish his credentials as a legatee of the glories of Estense culture rather than for his daily personal entertainment (Fabris 1999, 42). We learn from Bernardo Bizzoni’s letter of 5 November 1608 that Enzo brought two female singers with him from Ferrara. To complete the reconstitution of the concerto delle dame, in Rome he added a third female musician, as well as the lutenist Alessandro Piccinini (in service by spring of 1609) and Frescobaldi as keyboardist. Like the Ferrarese ladies, Enzo’s singers were intended to play as well as to sing: “… when You [Enzo] were here all three played together, but since Your Most Illustrious Lordship left they have only played once…”
The first of the singers was Angela (Anzola, Anzolla, Angiola) Zanibelli, a poor and untrained young woman who had originally entered the service of the Bentivoglio as a weaver or embroiderer. (The sensational hypothesis that she was the fruit of the successful trial of the virility of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua in 1584, whose other participant was then married off to Giulio Caccini, has unfortunately been discredited.) In 1606 Angela began her vocal training, starting more or less from scratch. Enzo’s mother Isabella Bendidio Bentivoglio, herself a singer, wrote to the Duke of Mantua on 26 December 1607: “I am sending you this young girl of ours who sings,” but she cautioned him:
… she has been here in the household for about eighteen months, and not only did she not know how to read but did not even know a syllable or a note of music to sing, having nothing good but the voice. It is true that in this time she has been taught to learn her letters and musical notes, whence she is beginning to read a bit and to sing the notes haltingly: everything that she sings are things learned by heart…
In Mantua Angiola performed in L’Idropica and may have sung the title role in Marco da Gagliano’s La Dafne (1608).
Failing to engage Virginia Andreini, the brilliant replacement for the deceased Caterina Martinelli in Monteverdi’s L’Arianna (1608), Enzo hired as a second singer a certain Lucia, described as “thick-witted” (“grossa, di cervello”). Enzo intended to bring Angiola to Rome with him, but she demurred at teaching Lucia and suggested that she study with Angiola’s teacher, a certain “Orazietto,” Orazio Crescenti:
Your Most Illustrious Lordship says that you wish to take into your household a young girl who is learning to sing … But in saying that she should then be my pupil … I don’t know that I am good for that purpose; but she can also learn, from that teacher who taught me.
“Oratietto” Crescenti may have been a Neapolitan contralto in the Cappella Pontificia (d. 1617), or the homonymous tenor of the Cappella Giulia (Fabris 1999, #178).
Enzo’s third female performer, who first appears in a letter of February 1609, was not primarily a singer (although he also had her trained in singing), but a virtuoso harpist: the Neapolitan Lucrezia Urbani. Lucrezia served at the Mantuan court 1603-08 and may have performed the double-harp solo in L’Orfeo. She was apparently no beauty (she was sometimes referred to as “la Goba,” “the Hunchback”). In Mantua she was paid a clothing allowance as well as her salary, and she left with the commendation of Duke Vincenzo.
Lucrezia’s distinction was acknowledged in the terms of her employment with Enzo. She was hired in February of 1609 along with her sister Camilla, provided with two waiting-women, “with a largish salary [equal to that of Enzo’s maestro di casa, the Centese mosaicist Ercole Provenzale, brother of the more famous artist Marcello: portrait by Ottavio Leoni], two brothers in the Household as pages, and at the end of five or six years I don’t know but that she will have money for a dowry gift.” Lucrezia was confided to Frescobaldi himself for instruction, “a discipline at levels well above those offered to the obtuse Lucia” (Fabris 1986, 78). In June of 1609 Caterina Bentivoglio’s younger brother, Marchese Gasparo Martinengo, who also studied with the lutenist and composer Alessandro Piccinini, reported to Enzo that Piccinini had composed “a Ruggiero, and a stupendous toccata” for the “Napolitana.”
Something of the pedagogic methods of the consertino teachers transpires from a letter of the composer and keyboardist Cavaliere Cesare Marotta (ca. 1580-1630) to Enzo in 1614:
… I am sending to Your Most Illustrious Lordship the [score of the] romanesca that you command me, although I have refrained from showing it to Signora Francesca, so that you might hear it from her in the manner in which I desired it to be sung, since I always think that it is not easy to show it to someone who does not have the practice of it well; for although it is a romanesca, nonetheless I call it a bastard romanesca, since in many places it must be sung with affetto, and in others with vocal tenute, accenti [a vocal ornament] and other attentions, which cannot be written but require the living voice [la viva voce].
Here again, the learning of the music in performance directly from the composer precedes the written score.
The choice of a Romanesca, a bass line and its consequent harmonic pattern employed as the basis of vocal and instrumental variations, is significant. Vincenzo Giustiniani wrote of it (1628): “the Romanesca air is unique and deemed most beautiful and is always sung with great pleasure, as [it is] exquisite and fit to receive every sort or ornament and [is] accompanied in every key and with great ease.” Suzanne Cusick (2009, xxv) has perceptively compared the Romanesca to the twelve-bar blues pattern, an aria “that improvising musicians used to perform narrative texts as self-accompanied song” (Francesca Caccini published no less than six Romanescas).
The progress of Enzo’s consertino, partly under Frescobaldi’s tutelage in performance and counterpoint, is described in letters written during the summer of 1609 from Enzo’s household in Rome to Enzo at Ferrara. (He had returned north temporarily in mid-May in connection with his bonifica, leaving his Roman establishment under the supervision of his younger brother Giovanni, Cavaliere di Malta [d. 1610]).
A member of Enzo’s famiglia, Cosimo Bandini, had taken over a role in supervising the musicians and wrote to Enzo on 8 July 1609:
I inform you that now messer Girolamo [Frescobaldi] is teaching the Napolitana, and they are attending to the lessons and Lucia is learning quite well from Orazietto so that when Your Most Illustrious Lordship comes here these young Women may sing the notes securely, Lucia will not be able to sing them because Your Most Illustrious Lordship knows that she is thick-headed, but you will find her in such state, that Your Most Illustrious Lordship will be able to judge if I have failed to teach her, and if not you may be informed by Signora Caterina. Signora Lucrezia will sing the words securely because she knew a bit from madonna Angiola; I don’t mix in there because messer Girolamo is teaching her.
On 11 July Bandini wrote to Enzo:
I wrote by the last post to Your Most Illustrious Lordship how messer Girolamo is teaching Sig.ra Lucretia, or rather is working on it; and he teaches her also a bit of Counterpoint, but to me it does not seem that the Musica goes forward as it did when you were here; and the reason is this, that when you were here all three played together, but since Your Most Illustrious Lordship left, they have not played except once, therefore Your Most Illustrious Lordship can judge if playing together is the real fundamental; Lucia is learning very well how to carry her voice from Oratietto and is also somewhat learning the Notes… 
Frescobaldi’s salary is not known, but in 1609 “the master who teaches singing to the ladies” (“il maestro che insegna cantar ale done”), Oratietto [Crescenti], received sc. 4.80 out of a total of sc. 55.83 monthly for the entire household. In 1613 a salary of sc. 4 was proposed for a teacher for two young musicians (Fabris 1999, #341). Perhaps Enzo paid Frescobaldi from Ferrara through the latter’s father Filippo: in a letter of 24 June 1609 Alfonso Verati in Rome wrote Enzo: “Yesterday I received seventy scudi from Frescobaldi, who says that Your Most Illustrious Lordship had them paid to his father in Ferrara.”
On 12 August 1609 Piccinini reported to Enzo from Rome his “opinion on the musica to fill up the sheet”:
The first thing you will find on your arrival [is] Lucia singing something with much grace: I say ‘much’ to those who believed. The other woman [Angiola] it seems to me does not care to sing in this manner and then as she is the bride [la sposa] I don’t speak of it. Sig.ra Lucretia [plays] toccatas and sinfonie and after assuring you how she has finished a tocata that I am teaching her I will give her a Corente.
He added in a postscript: “I write being in the house while Oracieto taught the bride: I heard her sing an aria with much grace.” (Does the reference to Angela as “la sposa” refer to the attempt on the part of the Bentivoglio to marry her off to Frescobaldi?) In December of 1609 the melomane Cardinal Montalto visited Enzo’s wife and mother to hear Lucrezia perform. The marchesa wrote that the cardinal “says he would go without eating to hear our Neapolitan play the harp.”
Instrumentalists notwithstanding, paired female voices were the basis of the ensemble. In late February 1609 Caterina Martinengo Bentivoglio wrote to an unknown correspondent: “say to [the poet] Alessandro Guarini that I kiss his hands and ask him to favor me with some beautiful madrigals to have set to music for two sopranos.” Cosimo Bandini in Rome to Enzo in Ferrara, 5 September 1609: “I have not neglected to attend to teaching the Notes to Lucia as also to Sig.ra Lucretia, exercising them together with certain two-part Madrigals as Your Most Illustrious Lordship may understand from Sig.ra Caterina.”
A letter to Enzo from Francesco Belfiore, his Roman maestro di casa, on 1 July 1609 hints at marriage problems in the household: “About a certain matter of marriage here in the House, I do not know how concrete it is, I will defer to the report of these Most Illustrious Padroni who have got themselves involved in it.”
In a letter to Enzo on the same day Frescobaldi reveals the rumors to which Belfiore refers and asks to be released from Enzo’s service:
I cannot fail to satisfy one and the other of these desires of mine, first by assuring you that I live as Your Most Illustrious Lordship’s servant, the other to inform you how I remain very displeased, having heard a certain rumor about me in the house of Your Most Illustrious Lordship about teaching these girls of yours, having also seen from their behavior that they suspect me; when you will be in Rome I will set Your Most Illustrious Lordship straight about this about whence it was produced, as also about the gossip of others. Now I do not lose hope that Your Most Illustrious Lordship may not consider me your true servant that I am and will be always. And to assist this I inform Your Most Illustrious Lordship how I will not converse with them wherever they are, since I do not intend to remain under similar suspicions in the house of Your Most Illustrious Lordship, where I have always been careful of my honor and especially in the house of Your Most Illustrious Lordship I am careful of it with the greatest attention of which I am capable. With the good grace of Your Most Illustrious Lordship I ask for a good release from the service of Your Most Illustrious Lordship, assuring you that I will live the everlasting servant of Your Most Illustrious Lordship and your House and I make you a most humble reverence. From Rome 1 July 1609.
The meaning of “honor” to a middle-class Ferrarese like Frescobaldi is clarified in the words of a former secretary to Alfonso II: “many citizens, although not noble, are called respectable men and honored persons, each one prizes his honor, to maintain which even the common people of the lowest condition shed their blood, and often lose their lives.” For women like Angela, the situation was more ambivalent:
You must know that honor or blame does not consist principally in doing something or not doing it, but in believing or not believing that it is done; because honor is placed in nothing other than the esteem of men […] And this equally is to be said of a woman, whose honor does not consist, as I have said, in doing or not doing (for this matters little) but in being believed or not being believed.
On 15 July Frescobaldi wrote a second letter to Enzo, essentially filling in the blanks in his previous communication:
Since I must not only obey the commands of Your Most Illustrious Lordship, as I know how much Your Most Illustrious Lordship has always held me to be that true servant which I am and shall be always, thus I do not despair that for your kindness and generosity you will not disdain this resolution that I have made that until now you had understood how much [many?] served Signora Caterina and also me, seeing that many indeed all said their opinion of me, but it is enough only to believe that Your Most Illustrious Lordship believe as you will find in fact that I had proceeded with those true terms as one should in the house of Your Most Illustrious Lordship, and what I have done, although it was my thought to marry Angiola, however I wished to reserve myself to say so at the arrival of Your Most Illustrious Lordship in Rome, but to disenchant the evil-speakers, who murmur greatly against me, I have made known what I intend to do. But it only remains to me to beg you from now on that this has been the will of God that you wish to regard my poverty to intervene with the uncle of Angiola, which the Signora Caterina wrote me as far as time goes [?in quanto il tempo] I resign myself to Your Most Illustrious Lordship for everything that you destine me to do. In the meanwhile I shall not fail to teach them, and especially the Neapolitan … 
The existence of quite another marriage project of the Bentivoglio for Frescobaldi is revealed in a letter of 31 July 1609 from Giulio Caccini in Florence to Enzo Bentivoglio in Rome:
As I already replied to Your Most Illustrious Lordship on the matter of the marriage that you proposed for my daughter with that young Ferrarese now Organist down there at St. Peter’s these Serene Highnesses [the Medici] do not wish to deprive themselves of this subject [his daughter], although they are content, that I find her a Husband, who is a virtuoso, and of her profession so that they will give the salary to both, concerning which I am moved to beg Your Most Illustrious Lordship kindly to give me to understand as from yourself if such a marriage would please that person [Frescobaldi], and give me some certain and sure news, of which I will feel a special obligation receiving this favor with highest thanks; since in any case from mid-October on we shall all meet at Rome in the house of the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Don Virgino Orsini, if only for this respect since having made a great acquisition to be able to give some pleasure[;] I hope therefore to attain my end, she will have a dowry of one thousand scudi, and I believe that between the two the provision will be at least twenty-five scudi a month, with great Princes as Your Most Illustrious Lordship already knows are able to reward them since they are all young, in a service of little duty, and less trouble. It remains nothing except only to add that I beg you to pardon my great zeal, moved by the great trust I have in your kindness, in the meanwhile begging you to remember me as most humble servant to the Marchesa your Mother as do all these daughters of mine … 
Enzo had apparently planned not only to settle Frescobaldi’s matrimonial future, but also to acquire a stellar female musician for his musica—presumably the beautiful and talented eighteen-year-old Settimia Caccini, since her older sister Francesca was already married and their half-sister Dianora was not yet ten and was in any case deformed (“storpiata”). In the event Enzo was checkmated by the Medici counterproposal. Settimia was also being wooed by Ferdinando Gonzaga for Mantua—unsuccessfully, since the Grand Duchess Christina wanted her for Florence. Christina achieved this by marrying Settimia to the musician Alessandro Ghivizzani, whom Caccini himself called “both crazy and evil.” Unwilling to lose Frescobaldi, Enzo increased the pressure to force him to marry Angiola.
Frescobaldi’s father Filippo was apparently a man of pride and some social standing (he is qualified as “illustrissimo” in a notarial document), and his real feelings are suggested in a damaged letter of 27  August 1609 to Enzo from an unidentified correspondent:
Girolamo of the spinet is saying that he does not wish to marry Anzolla because his father his written him that he will give his curse to both of them … I went to find him in Capranica [? illegible, but Enzo rented Palazzo Capranica] and made great threats; he does not know what to answer except that he will do … he will be reasonable but that he thought that Anzolla had a larger dowry and that her family were better.
Giovanni Bentivoglio put it more bluntly in a letter to Enzo (2 September 1609): “I’m afraid lest here this Girolamo will make it necessary to trick him.”
Ippolito Fiorini, the former capo di tutte le musiche of Alfonso II and first maestro of the Ferrarese Accademia della Morte, went as an intermediary from Enzo (apparently himself in Ferrara) to Girolamo’s father (letter of 9 September 1609):
I have spoken with [Filippo] Frescobaldi and showed him the letter that his son wrote to Your Most Illustrious Lordship, from which he is half dead; I urged him to write on this matter, and he answered me that he had done it this morning and that he did not wish to write more until Saturday [presumably the next post-day], and when I grew warm in the service of Your Most Illustrious Lordship he tells me that he does not know what to do and that he leaves thinking and the care of the matter to his son to correct the fault that he has committed, in the manner that will appear best to him, feeling regret and great affliction for Your Most Illustrious Lordship’s displeasure, which would not have happened had his son informed him before he came to the betrothal contract and touching the hand of that young girl; now that he had gone so much further and ruled himself by his own whims let him find a remedy since he himself [Filippo] does not want to think about it any more. I will come tomorrow to find Your Most Illustrious Lordship to tell you some other details in the conversation between the said Frescobaldi and myself.
Filippo Frescobaldi’s reference to “the betrothal contract and touching the hand” had a technical meaning. Before the Council of Trent in the mid-sixteenth century, marriages were regarded as juridically valid through the completion of a series of actions. These included signing a marriage contract, joining hands in the presence of the family (“nor did he even touch my hand with my relatives [present] as is customary,” one jilted girl complained), the presentation of gifts, and a nuptial kiss, all of which constituted a formal betrothal permitting semi-connubial relations. By the decree Tametsi of 1563 the Council distinguished between betrothal and marriage. It affirmed the sacramental nature of marriage and proclaimed it valid only if celebrated in church by a priest in the presence of witnesses, preceded by the publication of banns of marriage on three consecutive holy days. The two procedures seem to have co-existed, since the contract and joining of hands are depicted at least as late as 1625. (In rural Sicily betrothals are still sealed by a handclasp.)
An all too frequent scenario was the rape or abduction of the young woman, followed by a continuation of the relationship sweetened by promises of marriage. In cases like that of Angela, young and poor, such arrangements often resulted in pregnancy, and not infrequently in consequent infanticide. The perils of young female servants in a mixed household are hinted at in a letter of August 1641 from the composer Marco Marazzoli in Rome to Enzo Bentivoglio’s son Cornelio in Ferrara concerning a young singer: “I believe that the Signora Marchesa [Cornelio’s wife] will be pleased with her, both for her modesty [ …] as well as for the fact that she is ugly, which is a quality that cannot fail to be of good satisfaction to the Signora.”
These letters transport us to the world of I promessi sposi. The Bentivoglio were resolved to make an honest woman of Angiola, either by the provision of a dowry or by coercion verging on the criminal. Indeed, their anxiety has aroused the suspicion that they were using Girolamo to conceal a scandal involving one of the family, perhaps Caterina Martinengo Bentivoglio’s young brother Gasparo. Pressure was placed both on Girolamo and Filippo, whose consent was indispensible (27 August 1609, unidentified correspondent):
I gave him this answer and said that Your Lordship would have spoken to his father. Let Your Lordship speak to him and threaten him soundly, and induce him to consent that Girolamo marry her, and let Your Lordship promise serious things and make him write him, because otherwise we will have great trouble with this fool because we are in Rome and I cannot take him by force and make him marry her … I cannot threaten him … [Let] Your Lordship convince his father also to write him that he is content because otherwise we will have unpleasantness.
The disorder that this scandal caused in the Bentivoglio household in Rome breaks out in an almost incoherent letter from the long-suffering Caterina to her husband on 9 September:
My Lord: Your Lordship is not right to tell me that I become angry over small matters since there is nothing I can desire more than keeping your things in this absence of yours which is so long, and seeing myself bereft and not knowing the cause of it, I am afraid when I knew that the magnanimo if now [illegible] … forgotten I have not spoken to you … I do not know what Your Lordship wishes me to do about this musica of yours, there being no other masters than Oratietto. I am not a maestra and cannot teach music and it has gone to ruin through your sig.r Girolamo who has put everything into confusion and then quit. Your Lordship should not complain of me, but rather of him who so tied up the mess that if Your Lordship had believed me you would have remedied it and at this time the conserto would be in good condition; but in this fashion he has taught no one but Angiola, but not music, but other, merrier things, which I promise you I believe he knows backwards and forwards.
Giovanni Bentivoglio in Rome to Enzo Bentivoglio in Ferrara, 16 September 1609:
[Francesco] Calcetto to whom I gave the letter for Girolamo has still not been able to find him and I am almost sure that he will say that he doesn’t want to do anything until Your Most Illustrious Lordship comes…”
The Bentivoglio continued their pressure, and Girolamo continued to refuse, citing to Enzo and Enzo’s emissaries the misrepresentation of his proposed bride by Isabella Bendidio. On 19 September Frescobaldi wrote to Enzo:
I believe that Your Most Illustrious Lordship will have received another letter from me, and with the present one I come to greet you and tell you at length what to my mind is involved in taking Angiola, I say to Your Most Illustrious Lordship that I have revered and esteemed the honor of Your Most Illustrious Lordship as much as my own life, that if I had not done so I believe that you would have seen signs of the results, if I had carried affection to evil or good ends. Your Most Illustrious Lordship knows that I asked to be released for this reason, then it happened that moved by compassion for her as well as that you promised me a thousand scudi as dowry I let myself be induced to do this, to touch her hand [= betroth her], begging Your Most Illustrious Lordship and the Signora Marchesa that this not be spoken of until at the coming of Your Most Illustrious Lordship to Rome we could have spoken of everything. Accordingly, if the Signora Marchesa knew that what I had done was for compassion of her and that this was not a reasoned action, at least she ought to have told me about her family, that they were of such reputation, which if she had done it I would have been content, but she told me the complete opposite of what I supposed, that this woman was of a quality appropriate to my honor. I tell Your Most Illustrious Lordship that after I learned this not only from my father but from others that I would no longer bring myself to look at her let alone take her. I only beg Your Most Illustrious Lordship to take me in truth for your true servant that I have always been to your house and deign [sic] and to compose this matter for the best of one and the other parties and to consider only God.
The Bentivoglios’ emissary Francesco Calcetti attempted to answer these objections. He had been entrusted with a letter for Frescobaldi by Giovanni Bentivoglio, but “he still hasn’t been able to find him” (“non la [lo ha] ancora potuto trovare”). Calcetti reported in a letter of 23 September:
I spoke to m. Girolamo on Sunday morning at the order of the s.r Cavaliere [Giovanni] and the sig.ra Marchesa giving him the letter of Your Most Illustrious Lordship, since previously I had not been able to find him anywhere, and proposing to him all those considerations for which I thought to be able to persuade him to take Anzola for his wife in conformity with the promise made first to God and then to Your Most Illustrious Lordship and to these gentlemen. I found him more stubborn than ever; and because he told me that his father was not content, I showed him a letter where Your Most Illustrious Lordship wrote the s.r Cavaliere that his father had not written him in this vein, but had written him that he wanted to know nothing more about it [see letter of 9 September], and that if he did wrong the loss would be his, and finally he said to me that since the s.ra Marchesa had promised him that Anzola was born of honest parents, and finding her otherwise as to her mother and sisters; that he did not intend to be bound to keep his promise, if this proviso were not observed, and finally he said to me [sic] telling me also further that he had written his opinion to Your Most Illustrious Lordship and to s.r Goretti, and that he was awaiting an answer. The s.ra Marchesa says that it is not true that she had promised him anything, and adds that he made the promise freely without asking anything else, whence I have not failed to point out … to the said m. Girolamo the harm that could befall him, whence it behooves him to consider well, since he seems unwilling to do otherwise about it.
(Here there appears a character already encountered in Ferrara: Antonio Goretti, whose answer Frescobaldi awaits.)
In the end, the determination of Girolamo and his father prevailed. The controversy seems to have estranged Frescobaldi from the service of the Bentivoglio by the end of September 1609, and there is no further evidence of his teaching Enzo’s household musicians until 1613.
Despite Girolamo’s absence (or perhaps because of it), the consertino rapidly improved, so that by the end of 1609 it was regularly visited by Cardinal Montalto and his celebrated singer, Ippolita Recupito (1577-ca. 1650: fig. 6/2: Tordella 2011, fig. 114), together with her husband Cesare Marotta. Enzo’s burgeoning musica must have been a source of satisfaction to him at this period, since he wrote his brother Giovanni in July 1610: “Signor brother all men have their lively humor: at present I have mine in music and perforce I must satisfy myself there.”
However, the progress of the consertino was uneven. Caterina wrote her husband on 5 December 1609: “… your musica is going on very well now and I hope that when you come you will find something… ” Isabella Bentivoglio reported to Giovanni in early June of 1610:
Here they neither play nor sing and the solfa is already finished[;] as you must have heard the lady of the harp [Lucrezia] has got a bit of mange and since she needs to be scratched she has decided to take a husband so that he may serve her but she has not yet married. The Husband is a young man in the service of Cardinal [Andrea] Peretti; he has nothing in the world.
The husband of the pregnant Lucrezia was the penniless harpsichordist and composer Domenico Visconti, a protégé of Giovanni Battista da Gagliano and a dependent of Andrea, the younger Cardinal Peretti Montalto. The wedding caused a somewhat cynical stir in Enzo’s household. Francesco Belfiore wrote Enzo:
… the Neapolitan harp player has decided in these last days to take a husband as good-looking as she is: since I only knew about it the day before yesterday, I have not given Your Most Illustrious Lordship that account which would have been given more clearly by a much better announcement, since I don’t care about these details about the women of the household one way or another …
Caterina wrote Giovanni:
… the other news is that our Neapolitan has married that young man who comes here to play the harpsichord … as soon as she is married she will go to her husband’s house with her whole family [;] God be praised that we will be delivered from this expense …
This turned out not to be the case, as Isabella wrote Giovanni:
… I believed that the harpist should go get her mange scratched somewhere else than in our house, but she wanted to do anything except go off: instead, she begged Enzo that he allow her to stay with him until the fulfillment of her five years [contract] with her husband, who has come to serve Enzo, and he [Enzo] has not increased her more than what he gave originally, except his [the husband’s] provision in addition …
Caterina wrote Giovanni (23 June 1610): “Not only is the musica not finished but it is flourishing more than ever since [Enzo] has taken her husband into the household …”
Because Lucrezia was contractually obliged to Enzo for five years, Visconti became a virtually unpaid domestic servant for the Bentivoglio. (In 1612, with Lucrezia pregnant and penniless, the two were fired by Enzo, after which they moved to the Florentine court, where they served Don Antonio de’ Medici. Would the musical couple Girolamo/Angiola have met a similar fate?)
With the expiration of Enzo’s term as Ferrarese ambassador and his departure from Rome in 1610 (he was back in the city by July 1611, returning to Ferrara by 5 November 1611), he could no longer afford to maintain a household of fifty-nine members. He solved the financial and practical problems of staffing his musica and maintaining contact with Roman musical circles from Ferrara by borrowing performers from the greatest of Roman melomanes, Cardinal Alessandro Montalto Perretti. The performances of Enzo’s musica depended largely on such borrowed artists, chiefly Montalto’s singer Ippolita Recupita and her husband Cesare Marotta, with other more casual performers such as Alessandro Piccinini (who left Rome in 1611 but continued in contact with Enzo), “Orazietto,” and the composer and theorbist Ippolito Macchiavelli (1568-1619).
A series of letters from Lucrezia’s husband Domenico Visconti in Rome to Enzo Bentivoglio in Ferrara beginning in November 1611 appears at first glance to concern Frescobaldi in an all-too-familiar role. The writer is involved in a conspiracy to conceal the birth of an illegitimate child fathered by “Gironimo.” The details of the case, however, show that the culprit was not Frescobaldi, but an occasional member of Enzo’s household, a computista or accountant named Girolamo Fioretti.
However, under the date 2 June 1612, the parish register of San Lorenzo in Lucina records the baptism of “Francesco the son of Girolamo Frescobaldi Ferrarese and Ursula born at Rome the daughter of Giovanni Travaglini, Milanese [;] they lived in the parish of Sant’ Eustachio … Born the 29th day of the preceding month.” This time there was no escape feasible, although the union of Girolamo and Orsola was not regularized until the following year. Little is known of Orsola del Pino (as she is usually called) by comparison with Girolamo’s earlier prospective brides (for what has been suggested as a sketch of her see Cat. 2. 1615a). She was six or seven years younger than Girolamo, and her family consisted of her father Giovanni, mother Alessandra, and siblings Margherita and Stefano. She was reputed to be better educated than her husband, and she presumably brought as her dowry the house on Piazza Colonna where her family had lived since 1610. Piazza Colonna was a center of revelry, especially at Carnival time, and was also inhabited by numerous prostitutes, who in 1639 numbered 1,152 out of a female population of 46,888.
Claudio Annibaldi discovered Frescobaldi’s marriage license, a printed form with blanks to be filled in, sent by the Vicariato di Roma to one Fra Pietro da Pesaro, the curate of the bride’s parish church, Santa Maria in Via (where Cardinal Aldobrandini had restored a family chapel: fig. 6.3): the text in italics has been added by hand to the printed form:
Permission is granted to the Rev. Father fra Pietro da Pesaro Curate of the Church of S. Maria in Via to be able to participate in the celebration of the Matrimony, that they desire to contract between Girolamo son of the late Filippo Frescobaldi sonatore living in Rome for about twelve years, and Orsola daughter of Giovanni del Pino, Milanese spinster & since the due declarations have been made, and for the information taken for the documents of the undersigned Notary, there is found to be no impediment among them: but the said Curate must have this Matrimony celebrated in Church, in the morning, & first exhort the Contracting Parties to confess themselves, & communicate, before the said celebration, diligently observing all that is ordered by the Sacred Council of Trent
From home the 15 of the Month of February 1613 / Cesar Fidelis vicegerens/ For D. Stephano Spada notary / Felix Maciottus subscripsit / Angelus Baldus / Exposita pro me Roccum Paginum.
On the morning of 18 February Girolamo and Orsola were married in the sacristy of Santa Maria in Via with two Servite friars of the parish as witnesses. Orsola was already pregnant with a second child, born 22 July 1613 and appropriately baptised Maddalena six days later. The first of the Frescobaldi children to achieve the respectability of legitimate birth and a godparent other than a midwife was Domenico, born 8 November 1614 and held at the font of the basilica of the Holy Twelve Apostles on 16 November by Cardinal Domenico Ginnasi, the titular cardinal of the church (in the baptismal register the Frescobaldis are listed as living in Piazza Colonna). The next child, Stefano, whose baptismal act has not been found, was probably born in 1616 or 1617. Caterina, born 21 September 1619, had as godfather Canon Mons. Evangelista Carbonesi, papal referendary and Inquisitor of Malta, and one of Frescobaldi’s supporters in the organists’ election of 1608.
Frescobaldi’s new family responsibilities may have prompted him to a rapprochement with his former patrons. Enzo now employed his Roman musica as a training-gound for singers whom he could then transport to Ferrara to perform in the elaborate chivalric spectacles with music, opere-tornei, that he had instituted. (Already in 1610 Enzo had memorialized the defeat of his Roman hopes by a tourney held in Ferrara at the beginning of Carnival, an orgy of autocelebration.) He had hoped to introduce these opere-tornei to Rome in 1612, but without success. Vincenzo Landinelli, Enzo’s dispensiere or steward (“che stava per dispensiere con V. S. Ill.ma”: Fabris 1999, #408), wrote to Enzo in Ferrara on 21 January 1612:
The news has spread all over Rome of the torneo and the challenge that Your Most Illustrious Lordship wishes to sustain in honor of the Roman ladies, for which, from what Cardinal Mellini tells me, they are greatly puffed up, and are displeased that the padroni [Paul V and the Curia] have not given permission to perform it in Rome.
The spectacular production originally planned for 1612 in Rome, La Filli di Sciro of Guidobaldo Bonarelli, was now programmed for the Ferrarese Carnival of 1614. Transformed first into L’Alceo of Antonio Ongaro to be performed in Carnival of 1613, it failed through the absence of Ippolita Recupita and Cesare Marotta, whom Cardinal Montalto for once refused to lend to Enzo. Battista Guarini’s intermedi, revised by his son Alessandro and set to music by Marotta, were finally performed with L’Idalba of Maffeo Venier on 6 February 1614. In 1615 the computista Girolamo Fioretti reminded Enzo that Landinelli, “… has often sought to turn your spirit from such expenses, which he deems are thrown into the sea.”
Landinelli’s letter of 21 January 1612 continues with an account of the consertino whose wildly inflated figures reflect the importance of the ensemble as a propaganda tool:
Yesterday, being requested, I brought the Ambassador of Flanders with three or four other of the principal Flemish gentlemen to hear the Napolitana play, and it pleased him greatly, and he wished to know her name and the name of her Husband, and wrote it down in a book, he also desired to hear Signora Hippolita, but because Sig. Cesare [Marotta] is in bed with a slight illness in one leg, and he should ask permission of Cardinal Montalto, they will not be obliged so soon. I told these gentlemen that maintaining this Napolitana with her brothers and sisters cost Your Most Illustrious Lordship more than a thousand scudi a year, and you spend as much again in maintaining other similar virtuosi who sing, and Piccinini [brother] of Girolamo well known by them, that they may be assured of what sort of person they have as Nuntio in Flanders although this is not new to them, since they know quite well the quality of this House … 
A subsequent letter from Landinelli to Enzo dated 8 February 1612 hints at some sort of crisis involving Lucrezia:
As to the Neapolitan I have already written with the previous letters what is happening how she is constrained to leave her sister[;] one cannot avoid everything being discovered, and Charity urges that this affair be kept concealed for the love of God if not for any other reason, and Your Most Illustrious Lordship must consider [if] she is not to have an unhappy life. Further, one knows that the Signora Caterina is most afflicted for these people and therefore it is not good nor does she deserve receiving greater displeasure… 
By the spring of 1613 Girolamo, who “knows all the musicians,” was again employed to teach two of Enzo Bentivoglio’s singers. The principal student was Francesca Massiccia, sometimes called “la pitora” as the wife of the painter Guglielmo Grumminck, for whom a harpsichord was acquired “because it suits her voice” (“per che si confor[me] alla sua voce”). A bass, Francescone, a pupil of Ippolito Machiavelli, was also instructed. Frescobaldi’s colleagues included Machiavelli and Marotta, who wrote music for Francesca and went to teach her every day that he was not employed by Cardinal Montalto (letter of 27 vii 1613: Hill 1997, 327).
In May of 1613 the harpist and papal cameriere segreto Luca Antonio Eustachio evaluated Francesca’s prowess, according to a letter of Ercole Provenzale to Enzo:
… I do not fail according to the orders of Your Most Illustrious Lordship to go every day to Sig.ra Francesca, who shows a desire to learn. Also last Sunday I was at dinner with S.re Luca Antonio [Eustachio] and his wife, the which S.re Luca Antonio made her sing and told her that she was much better than la Grecietta. Tomorrow I will see to being there with Cavaliere Marotta or with S.re Girolimo and I will take a harpsichord, so that the said Cavaliere may give her a lesson. Signor Annibale [Roca, Enzo’s Neapolitan maestro di casa with Marotta?] does not fail of his usual diligence.
Ercole Provenzale, a mosaicist from Cento who had become Enzo’s new maestro di casa in 1611, wrote his master on 29 May 1613:
After the departure of Your Most Illustrious Lordship Cavaliere Marotta has given her a lesson only twice: and because there has only been a harpsichord for a week, which harpsichord has been rented and satisfies S.ra Francesca, because it suits her voice … S.r Girollimo has given her [Francesca] lessons a few times because he is taking a purge but he told me now that the purge is finished he will give her a lesson every day … I told these teachers of Sig.ra Francesca that I will write every day they give her a lesson, so that they have a bit of a spur.
At the end of May the Neapolitan Annibale Roca left for Naples (Fabris 1999, #339) and was replaced by Arrigo Vilardi, “the Hunchback” (“il Gobbo,” Rome ca. 1570-after 1630), who had served as a singer at the Mantuan court and has been claimed as the Roman teacher of Monteverdi’s Caterina Martinelli. (At this time, Vilardi, who was forty-five in 1616, lived near Santa Maria del Popolo with his aged sister, a widow, and her two daughters, who were described as “cortegiane.”) On 1 June 1613: Anibale Roca told Provenzale:
[Francesca] is not about to gain any profit under him [Roca]… I answered him [Marotta] that he should propose to Your Most Illustrious Lordship someone who would be good to teach her. He answered me that Your Most Illustrious Lordship has Sig. Girolimo who knows all the musicians, that Your Most Illlustrious Lordship may choose whom you will for her … S.re Girolimo gave her a lesson Friday and told me that he will not fail from now on to give her a lesson every day.
Provenzale’s subsequent letters to Enzo make it clear that Frescobaldi’s promise was short-lived. 5 June 1613: “S.re Girolimo did not come either Saturday or Sunday or Monday or Tuesday nor today which is Wednesday …” 8 June 1613: “Thursday neither S.re Girolimo nor the S.r Cavaliere has been here; Friday there was the Cavaliere; today [Saturday] there has been no one although I waited from ten on.” 18 June 1613: “and Girolamo has been here only on Tuesday.” 26 June 1613:
… that S.ra Francesca go to stay at the house of the Most Excellent S.r Francesco [Borghese], so that the Hunchback might have the convenience of giving her a lesson two or three times a day: … As for Girollimo he never comes here and when he comes he shows her two chords and runs off. But now that the Hunchback comes we don’t need him [Frescobaldi] because he [Vilardi] also teaches her the harpsichord. Believe me Your Most Illustrious Lordship, this Girollimo is half crazy.
Vilardi eventually took over teaching Francesca harpsichord as well as singing (letter of Provenzale, 5 July 1613):
S.r Girolimo came here little, now he doesn’t come at all, even though I have gone to find him many times and told him that he is wrong to treat Your Most Illustrious Lordship in this manner. He always promises me to do well, but the poor man is half crazy, as it appears to me. The Hunchback is satisfactory to the Cavaliere [Marotta] and teaches her to play the harpsichord, so that we have little need of Girolimo.
21 July 1613: “Girollimo no longer comes here to teach, with all that I have begged him many times.” In late September 1613 Francesca left for Ferrara and arrived there in mid-December (Fabris, 1999, #374, misdated). She seems to appear for the last time in the Bentivoglio correspondence in a letter from Enzo in Rome to Antonio Goretti in Ferrara dated 25 April 1615): “… the aria that Francesca was learning recently, I never had it from the Cavaliere [Marotta] …” 
The details of this household instruction, as they emerge from the Bentivoglio correspondence, recall the course of study outlined by Giovanni Andrea Angelini Bontempi in his Historia Musica (Perugia: Costantini, 1695) which describes the training of a Roman singer by Virgilio Mazzocchi (like Frescobaldi, in the service of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1635-45) during the reign of Urban VIII:
The Roman Schools obliged the Students to employ every day an hour in singing difficult and awkward things, to gain experience; another [hour] in the exercise of the Trill; another in that of Passaggi; another in the study of Letters; & another in the instruction & exercises of Singing, both under the sight of the Teacher and before a Mirror, to accustom themselves to make no inappropriate movement, neither of the body, or of the head [fronte], nor of the brow, nor of the mouth. And all these were the employments of the morning. After midday a half hour was employed in the instruction belonging to Theory: another half hour in Counterpoint [Contrapunto] on a Cantus firmus; another hour in receiving and putting in action the documents of the Contrapunto on the Cartella; another in the study of Letters; and the remainder of the day in practising the Harpsichord; in the composition of some Psalm, or Motet, or Canzonetta, or other sort of song. And these were the ordinary exercises of the day in which the Students did not leave the house.
The exercises outside the house were to go often to sing and hear the answer of an Echo outside of Porta Angelica, toward Monte Mario, to judge for oneself one’s own singing [accenti], to go to sing in almost all the Music that was done in the Churches of Rome, and to observe the manner of Singing of so many famous Singers who flourished in the pontificate of Urban VIII ….
By the end of July 1613 Frescobaldi had again left the service of his first patrons, to return briefly in 1615. He apparently maintained some contact with the household, since on 3 March 1614 Marotta wrote to Enzo, “I have heard from S.r Geronimo that Your Most Illustrious Lordship will shortly go to Venice” (“Ho inteso del S.r Geronimo che V. S. Ill.ma in breve anderà à Venetia” [Hill I, 331]).
Here we may insert an event out of chronological order. In February of 1615 Frescobaldi accepted an invitation to the court of Mantua; his reception was unsatisfactory and he returned to Rome before mid-May of the same year (see Chapter 7). Enzo Bentivoglio was in Rome by 18 April 1615 and had left for Ferrara by 1 June. During that period he acquired a boy soprano, Baldassare, with vocal problems (faulty “intonation” and incipient change of voice) and an insufficient musical background, whose training is described in a series of letters written by various correspondents from the household in Rome to Enzo Bentivoglio in Ferrara between June and September of 1615.
Giovanni Bernardino Nanino (ca. 1560-1623, brother of the better-known Giovanni Maria) taught Baldassare every morning for two hours: one hour of singing, and one hour of improvised counterpoint, composition, and harpsichord playing, as well as playing on a part (i.e. basso continuo). Every afternoon Baldassare went to Frescobaldi for a harpsichord lesson, chaperoned by the singer Giovanni Ghenizzi (d. 1620). Cesare Marotta made Baldassare sing for him three of four times a day and composed pieces to teach the student. Ippolita Recupita taught Baldassare solfeggio and playing the Spanish guitar.
Girolamo Fioretti to Enzo Bentivoglio, Rome, 8 June 1615:
They continue to teach him while lamenting the defects of his intonation … for the boy is older than what was told Your Most Illustrious Lordship, and consequently his voice has little time to last … The Cavaliere [Marotta] has finished teaching him the sonnet, even though all the same he is waiting to make him practice it to reduce it completely to perfection; and in the meanwhile he is composing a new aria to teach him. Sig. Nanini also continues to teach him with all diligence … and in addition to the customary lessons that he gives Baldassare to sing, and compose, he also teaches him to play continuo … I will also do my duty with S.r Frescobaldi, as I did with S.a Ippolita.
Fioretti to Enzo, Rome, 13 June 1615: “… Baldassare, who continues to go to take lessons from S.r Nanini, accompanied always by Ghenizzi, as he does when he goes to study playing with S.r Girolamo. Cavaliere Marotta has resolved to give him lessons three and four times a day.”
Fioretti to Enzo, Rome, 20 June 1615:
For the rest he continues to go to Nanini every day, where I find myself every morning, and he gives him two good hours of lessons spending one of them in making him sing and intone well, and the other in making him attend to the study of Counterpoint alla mente and Composition for which I have provided him with two other books, which were necessary. The Cavaliere [Marotta] continues to make him sing several times a day … He goes likewise to take lessons with S.r Girolamo Frescobaldi every day at 16 o’clock [eight hours before sunset].
On 27 June 1615 Fioretti wrote to Enzo:
Tomorrow I will bring Baldassare to the Chiesa Nuova, and I will recommend him warmly to Father Girolamo [Rosini] … for the rest he has no occasion to leave the house, except when he goes to take lessons from S.r Girolamo, which for the moment I don’t promise to go with him for the inconvenience of the hour, which is immediately after dinner toward the 16th hour, and for the future I believe that it will also be little convenient for the boy, since walking in the greatest heat of the day and going on, will cause not a little damage to his voice.
Fioretti to Enzo, 8 July 1615:
Of Baldassare I can tell you, that he no longer has mange in his hands since they have made him wash them with a little bar of soap, which in two or three times has healed him; he will now be at the disposal of S.ra Hippolita to teach him to play the Guitar … so that Baldassare must have a Guitar to be able to study, since the Sig. Hippolita does not have a Guitar to lend him … For the rest he continues his usual studies and I have recommended him again to the Cavaliere, to S.r Nanini, as also to S.r Frescobaldi, who says that he will teach him to play on the part [basso continuo] as Your Most Illustrious Lordship commands … Although S.r Nanini is still making him practice the same study.
As reported to Enzo by Fioretti, Baldassare’s studies continued without the participation of Frescobaldi. 18 July 1615: “Baldassare has been for two days without taking lessons … Now he will take up again his usual studies, and tomorrow as usual he will go to sing at the Chiesa Nuova.” 29 July 1615: “Cavaliere Marotta has set to music the madrigal O solenne Vittoria having adorned it with with ornamentations proportional to the capacities of Baldassare” for Enzo to use in a commedia. 22 August 1615:
The Cavaliere [Marotta] until now has taught him a sonnet, the aria ‘Non haver…,’ the madrigal ‘O solenne Vittoria’ and now he is making him practice a romanesca … Sig. Nanini has taught him some motets with passaggi, as well as giving him lessons in contrapunto, both written and improvised, and taught him to play the same motets.
After a brief mention in a letter of Provenzale to Enzo Bentivoglio, 11 July 1616, Frescobaldi disappears from the surviving Bentivoglio documents for eleven years.
The relationship between Frescobaldi and Enzo Bentivoglio has been summed up by Dinko Fabris:
there is reason to be skeptical about the real reciprocal trust of the relationship of artistic collaboration, since the organist is constantly depicted as negligent, not very persevering, and not at all interested in the progress of his young pupils. In reality, the almost token pay for the lessons on one side, and the lack of interest on the part of the marchese in employing a musician not appropriate for the theater, are additional explanations of a relationship that drags on so superficially.
Despite the repeated insinuation of mental instability (“questo Huomo e mezzo pazzo”), Frescobaldi may have had more cogent motives for distancing himself from the perilously solvent Enzo. In 1615 Frescobaldi dedicated the Recercari, et canzoni franzese (Rome, Zannetti) to Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, who “without any merit of mine, has already deigned to honor me, by numbering me among your present Servants.” This marked a change in the level of Frescobaldi’s patronage, since the Bentivoglio themselves were clients of the cardinal: for the rest of his life Frescobaldi would serve only cardinal-nephews or sovereign princes.
A letter of 9 November 1622 from Girolamo’s sometime associate Alessandro Costantini to Cardinal d’Este post-dates Frescobaldi’s entrance into the service of Cardinal Pietro:
If I had been in Rome I would have entered [into service] with Cardinal Ludovisi as Your Most Illustrious Lordship saw from a letter that Sudenti wrote me many days ago; and in my place there entered Stefano Landi, who now finds himself with eighty scudi of income and has not served more than four or five months; the violinist has one hundred [scudi], Sudenti seventy, Geronimo Frescobaldi who has now been a servant in Casa Aldobrandini for ten years has never had his salary or his fringe benefits removed, although the old Cardinal Aldobrandino went to Frascati or Ravenna, and he [Frescobaldi] always remained in Rome.
Costantini’s letter would place Frescobaldi’s enrollment between February of 1610, the date of Aldobrandini’s return to Rome from Ravenna, and his retirement there from 3 October of 1612 until 27 April 1614. This would correspond roughly with the expiration of Enzo Bentivoglio’s triennial appointment as Ferrarese ambassador to Rome and his return to Ferrara, leaving his Roman servants housed in lodgings. Further, there was a vacancy in Cardinal Pietro’s musica in 1612 since “Filippo [Piccinini] dal liuto,” who had been paid through December 1611, took service with the Duke of Savoy, along with the poet Giovanni Battista Marino. Cardinal Aldobrandini also lost another celebrated musician at this time, the virtuoso singer and composer Giovanni Domenico Puliaschi (d. 1622), who was apparently dismissed by the cardinal for re-entering the papal chapel on his wife’s death and was snapped up by Cardinal Borghese, despite efforts to hire him for Mantua.
Cardinal Pietro’s entourage, which numbered 140 bocche in 1598 (Robertson 2015, 58), included musicians. (He arrived in Ferrara in 1597 with only the composer Ruggiero Giovannelli but five months later had at least seven musicians in his suite: Annibaldi 19871, 55). For the 1600 proxy wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV, Aldobrandini was accompanied to Florence by a six-part vocal ensemble: Ludovico Gualtero (falsettist), Girolamo Rosini (soprano), Orazietto Crescenzi (contralto), Ruggero Giovannelli (tenor), Orazio Griffi (tenor), and Paolo Facconi (bass), plus the harpist Trematerra and the three Piccinini brothers. Cardinal Pietro presided at a nuptial mass, “the same one celebrated at Ferrara for the wedding of the Queen of Spain” (“l’istessa celebrata a Ferrara per lo sposalitio della Regina di Spagna”): “the music was excellent” ( “la musica fu ottima”). Aldobrandini apparently sponsored regular musical academies: on 9 November 1602 the singer Paolo Faccone wrote to the Mantuan court: “I have not been able really to penetrate Cardinal Aldobrandino’s house because there has not arisen the occasion of his usual musical recreations which are customarily done twice a week.” The cardinal was the dedicatee of music by Luzzasco, G. F. Anerio, Philippe De Monte, Ludovico Viadana, Ruggero Giovannelli, and others.
In 1610, four months after his return from Ravenna, Cardinal Pietro employed three musicians in addition to Filippo Piccinini: G. F. Anerio (entered the Cappella Pontificia in 1594), Rosini (entered 1601), and Giovan Battista, a“castratino.” Their daily allowances were four libbre (327 grams) of bread and five fogliette (.30 liter) of wine, a libbra of candles a week, a monthly companatico of sc. 3-3.10, a servant for each, and summer and winter outfits (at an average cost of sc. 5) for the “castratino” (Annibaldi 20112, 49-50, n. 34).
Frescobaldi is first mentioned as a servant of Cardinal Pietro in a letter of Paolo Facconi dated 1 November 1614 stating that Girolamo had an unspecified salary from the cardinal (see Chapter 7). Few details of his employment survive in the Aldobrandini papers since servants of Frescobaldi’s rank were named only in the lower reaches of household accounts—bills (giustificazioni), payment orders (mandati), lists of those who received salaries and provisions (salariati, companatici)—while most of the surviving records of Cardinal Pietro’s household are libri mastro generale, registers in which such items are entered as lump sums. (The tangled history of the Aldobrandini inheritance accounts for the disappearance of other documents.)
A list of fifty-four members of Cardinal Aldobrandini’s household who remained in Rome at his departure for Ravenna—as Costantini reported—in December 1620 includes “D. Gironimo Organista.” Frescobaldi’s service was therefore apparently limited to the cardinal’s Roman residences: the palace on the Corso (now, greatly altered, Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj) and the favorite garden-villa at Monte Magnanapoli. Although Costantini says that Girolamo was not required to follow the cardinal to the Villa Belvedere at Frascati, the Aldobrandini archive records in 1620: “And on the 18th [June] sc. 24 in cash paid to Girolamo Frescobaldi, who must pay so much, that is sc. 21 to seven musicians who went to the Villa in Frascati on the occasion of the Banquet that was made for the Cardinal of Savoy, for the music sung by them, and sc. 3 given to a Maestro who tuned the harpsichord used that evening sc. 24.” The guest of honor, Cardinal Maurizio of Savoy, was a noted music lover and the patron of Michel Angelo Rossi. Again on 12 September 1621, sc. 6 was paid “To Girolimo Frescobaldi musician sc. 6 gratuity to pay to five musicians who came to serve at the last banquet sc. 6.”
Some idea of these entertainments is given by an account of a banquet offered by Cardinal Aldobrandini on 26 June 1620 to Cardinal Maurizio’s brother Tommaso of Savoy. The dinner was held in the Stanza d’Apollo of the Villa Belvedere, frescoed by Domenichino and containing the water-organ (constructed by Giovanni Guglielmo and maintained by Nicolò Borbone), which was inaugurated on that occasion. The table of honor was set up near the statue of Mount Parnassus that dominated the room (fig. 6.4: MacDougall 1994; Villa Aldobrandini organ in Kircher Musurgia, 1650). The banquet began with a blessing and ended with a thanksgiving, both accompanied by “refined music” (“musica regalata”). “In addition to the continuous music, which there was from time to time from the Muses of Mount Parnassus, who all played musically with various instruments, as also the organ, which played by the force of water, with many entertainments of various plays of water.”
The apparatus is described by Patrizio Barbieri:
On the back of Mount Parnassus a small recess housed an organ furnished with about eight registers and with a keyboard that could be activated either manually or automatically, having the classic extension of 45 notes. One of the registers consisted of a Flute in octave, whose 45 pipes—all sounding—were however placed on the Mount, partly in the mouths of the nine muses and partly on the wind-chests hidden behind the shrubs and the artificial flowers which adorned its slopes (they were fed by 45 little lead pipes in part embedded in the Mount).
Apollo’s lyre was simulated by a psaltery with some thirty strings played by little brass hammers. The concert of the automata began with an organ solo, after which the muses intoned an aria with organ accompaniment, ending with an aria by Apollo’s psaltery, the whole accompanied by cuckoo and nightingale effects.
It is pleasant to imagine Girolamo and his singers at the Villa Aldobrandini, whose torrent “rushes, cascades, hurls, jumps, dances, retreats and advances, seethes and a thousand other things,” or enjoying the splendid views of the Apennines, the Campagna and distant Rome, and the sea (fig. 6.5: Frascati, Villa Aldobrandini).
On the surface these years testify to Girolamo’s increasing Romanization: his commitment to the post at St. Peter’s, his emancipation from his father and Filippo’s subsequent death, his break with his Ferrarese patrons in favor of one of the most powerful Roman cardinals, and his marriage to a native-born Roman. But it is perhaps a sign of the instability of his character that he was about to entertain a proposal that would have meant cutting professional and personal ties with Rome.