“The Great Conjunction is the meeting of the two superior planets in the same degree of the firmament.”
Ibn Khaldun, fourteenth century
The failure of Frescobaldi’s Mantuan venture bound him more firmly to Rome. He returned there probably in mid-April of 1615, perhaps in time for Easter on 19 April (having been absent for Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday, 5 and 12 April) and did not leave again until late November of 1628.
Publishing: Recercari et canzoni
The Recercari et canzoni, comprising ten ricercars and five canzonas, was first issued some time in 1615 (Rome: Zannetti) and reprinted in 1618. Frescobaldi’s return to the service of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini may have occasioned the publication of the Recercari and their dedication to the newly-rehabilitated cardinal. Unlike the first book of toccatas, written in keyboard intavolatura and engraved on copper plates, the Recarcari and the Capricci (1624) were notated in open score or partitura and printed from movable type, a less expensive if less elegant process.
The appearance of the Recercari marked Frescobaldi’s entry into the world of professional Roman music publishing, as contrasted with the self-published Toccate. The bibliographer Saverio Franchi has written of the Roman publishers:
… figures like Soldi, Robletti and others, were not simple artisans with their own print-shops, but real musical editors, with a specific and at times cultivated competence, and it should be recognized that they shared, with a contribution that was not only material (that too of primary importance), in the flowering of the musical activity of the period.
Robletti was “the most prolific and important among the Roman printers publishing music in the first half of the Seicento” (Franchi, 2006, 1650/1). Between 1609 and 1636, the year of his death, he is credited with one-hundred-nine surviving volumes of music. Bartolomeo Zannetti succeeded his brother Luigi (+ 1607) and published regularly from then until his own death in Rome, February 1621; some fifty-three editions survive. Zannetti was succeeded by Luca Antonio Soldi, who maintained a shop in the Santo Spirito complex, where Frescobaldi was hospital organist in 1620-1621. Soldi was active 1615-1625 until his death at Rome on 13 Jan. 1627 in the nobles’ ward of the Santo Spirito Ospedale; he is credited with some fifty surviving editions. Frescobaldi’s Liber secundus was one of the comparatively few but significant musical publications of Andrea Fei, one of the printers to Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano. A former apprentice of Zannetti, Paolo Masotti, began publishing in 1626. His output increased in the years 1629 until his death in 1637 – never less than four editions per year – for a total of some fifty-four volumes. Frescobaldi also published single sacred and secular vocal works in anthologies issues by Zanetti (1616, 1618), Robletti (1621, ), and Soldi (1625).
A letter of 26 May 1618 from Francesco Toscani in Rome to the young Florentine organist Francesco Nigetti (1608-81), brother of Toscani’s wife Alessandra, gives some idea of Frescobaldi’s relations with the Roman music printing industry:
This morning I went to find Girolamo Frescobaldi to ask him about the book of ricercari to buy it and to send it [;] I found that he has none of them but all the same he is about to print a quantity of them and he says that the whole book is seventy [recte: sixty] pages with some figures, in Rome it will cost 12 lire at least [;] from what he told me I believe that after the feast of St. John Baptist our protector [24 June] they will be finished being printed and I will buy it and will send it to you. I thought that it was to be found at the booksellers’ but there is no one other than he, who sells it as his own work, therefore be patient if you are not obliged at present.
From this we can deduce that by three years after its appearance the Recercari was sold out; a reprint had been ordered by Frescobaldi and was expected in about a month. The surviving catalogues of Roman booksellers confirm that “there is no one other than [Frescobaldi], who sells it as his own work”: the 1621 inventory of the bookseller Giovanni Domenico Franzini contained only Toccate I, while Franzini’s inventory of 1633 (in fact 1625) included nothing by Girolamo. Other letters show Frescobaldi selling his publications from his own house. His stated price of twelve (Florentine) lire for the Recercari would have equalled something less than two scudi in Roman currency, since in the 1620s one Roman scudo d’oro in oro was valued at 7.5 lire.
The only authenticated portraits of Frescobaldi date from these years and convey the impression of an artist in his prime. The original of these seems to be a drawing in black chalk (retouched for engraving) by Claude Mellan (1598-1688), a French artist and engraver active in Rome between 1624 and 1636 (fig. 8.1). This formed part of a series of drawings of Mellan’s friends and associates including Alessandro Tassoni (1565-1635), author of the heroic-comic epic La secchia rapita, Urban VIII’s court jester Raffaello Menicucci (d. 1637), Guido Bentivoglio (1633), and Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani, who in 1628 praised Frescobaldi as the keyboardist surpassing all others. Beginning in 1626, Mellan employed these drawings as the basis of portraits engraved within an oval frame; in 1631 he was paid sc. 12 and sc. 18 for a portrait of Giustiniani. In 1630-32 Mellan was employed by Giustiniani to engrave statues from his collection for the two-volume Galleria Giustiniana.
Mellan’s drawing of Frescobaldi shows a man of physical distinction with a large aquiline nose, heavy-lidded eyes, a rather haggard face, tousled dark hair, a wide sensitive mouth, and an alertly poised head. He is dressed soberly in the Spanish style—a dark doublet with a plain white collar. Two engravings, both reversed, seem to be derived from this original. The crude and uninformative likeness that appeared in the second book of toccatas of 1627 (fig. 8.2) is attributed to “F. Io. Salianus Augustinianus” (the Augustinian Jacques de Saillant) and was engraved by “Christianus Sas,” previously known to have been active in Rome only from 1628. Mellan’s own engraving (fig. 8.3), an altogether finer piece of work, follows his oval frame format. He modified his original drawing by softening the prominence of the nose and the angularity of the face, and de-emphasizing the generous mouth. Both of Mellan’s portraits are ‘speaking’ likenesses in which we are confronted with a strong and perhaps not wholly sympathetic personality. (In addition to Toccate II, the portraits also appear in other Frescobaldi volumes, perhaps added later. The Sas oval, minus its other decorations, is reproduced in the London copy of Bartolomeo Grassi’s 1628 edition of the Canzoni in score; the portrait plus its accompanying material is tipped into the Lüneberg copy of Grassi. The basso generale part-book of the 1634 London Canzoni [Venice: Vincenti] contains the Mellan portrait with its inscription: Silbiger 2012: see Catalogue).
These depictions present several anomalies. The inscriptions around the frames of both engravings give the subject’s age as thirty-six, which would date them as 1619—five years before Mellan’s arrival in Rome and eight years before the appearance of the portrait in Toccate II. On stylistic grounds the Mellan drawing has been dated 1626-27. A later inscription on Mellan’s original drawing names Girolamo as a musician of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, a post he did not occupy until 1628. Bernini’s friend Lelio Guidiccioni owned a portrait of Frescobaldi that showed one hand of the subject. This may have resembled a portrait at Schloß Ambras in Innsbruck from the collection of Antonio Goretti, depicting Frescobaldi holding in his right hand a paper displaying a canon and the emblem “Discordia concors” apparently invented by Adriano Banchieri; its origin and meaning are still being explored. Silbiger 2012 attempts to trace the filiation of these various images. (fig. 8.4). (It is possible that an unidentified caricature by Bernini [fig. 8.5: BAV, Cod. Chigi P. VI. 4, fol. 9, an album dated ca. 1640-45] records Girolamo’s appearance in his later years.)
Under the Sas portrait in Toccate II is printed a sonnet in praise of Frescobaldi. The author, Pier Francesco Paoli, was born in Pesaro and lived in Rome, where he worked for the Savelli family. He was still alive in 1637 but died before 1642. With Guarini, Tasso, Marino, and Guidiccioni, Paoli was a member of the Accademia degli Umoristi under the patronage of Francesco Barberini, an accademico of Cardinal Maurizio of Savoy’s Accademia dei desiosi, and also a socio of a private academy that included the oratorio librettist Francesco Balducci. In addition to the academicians of the Umoristi, Paoli’s wide circle of cultivated friends included Guido Reni, Bernini, and the highest ecclesiastics. Ottavio Leoni included Paoli in a series of engravings made from his portrait drawings in which his companions included Francesco and Antonio Barberini, Giovanni Ciampoli, Galileo, Marini, and Paolo Quagliati. In 1631 the poet Antonio Abati dedicated to Paoli Il Forno (Naples: Francesco Savio), a small volume of poems on the recent eruption of Vesuvius. Paoli contributed an epithalamium to the Barberini-Colonna wedding celebrations in 1627 and frequently wrote poems on music and dance subjects, often as performed by lovely women (including Leonora Baroni). He also provided the texts for three serenate by Frescobaldi’s pupil Barolomeo Grassi, editor of Frescobaldi’s 1628 Canzoni in score. Paoli’s Rime (without the Frescobaldi sonnet) appeared in several editions: Ferrara, 1609; Part II, Modena, 1619; Pesaro, 1621; Venice 1623; and the revised Rime varie (Rome: Corbelletti, 1637). This last edition was dedicated to Cardinal Antonio Barberini, who presumably underwrote its publication.
Professional activities and reputation
Aside from the Cappella Giulia payment records, information on Frescobaldi’s professional activities during these years is sparse. In 1615 (June-September) he accepted as a pupil the young soprano Baldassare, a protégé of Enzo Bentivoglio. In a letter of 11 July 1616 Ercole Provenzale informed Enzo: “S.re Girolimo in any way possible wants to send Your Most Illustrious Lordship a contralto. I will not fail to keep in touch with the matter so that Your Most Illustrious Lordship may know his intent.” In 1618 Frescobaldi purchased an organ from the estate of Cardinal Innocenzo del Bufalo (d. 1610) for the considerable sum of sc. 120. (The only other musical instrument in the sale was “an old theorbo” [“una tiorba antica”] which was bought for four scudi by a rigattiere or junk-dealer: information kindly supplied by Patricia Waddy). In 1619 the noted contrapuntist Romano Micheli (ca. 1575-1659) published in Venice a letter addressed to Frescobaldi and to his superior Francesco Soriano, the maestro of the Cappella Giulia, containing a canon based on one by Giovanni Paolo Cima.
A new light is cast on Frescobaldi’s Roman activities by two letters recently discovered in the Faber Archive of the Academia dei Lincei in Rome and kindly communicated by Dr. Anne-Marie Dragosits:
Friedrich Fugger in Augsburg to Johannes Faber in Rome, 24 October 1619:
Rome, Accademia de Lincei, Fondo Faber, Filza 420, 183r:
Però pregho VS di voler fare instantia appresso Il Sig.re Girolamo organista di S. Pietro in Roma a volere comporre con belle variationi il salmo 84 Benedixisti d[omi]ne terra[m] tua[m] auertisti capitiuitatem Jacob p[rim]o Et un Canzone [183v] et un Mutetto 2.do il suo humore et piacere che ne contentauo con ogni satisfattione et farò cantare et suonare, quando Iddio mi concederà ch’ hauere li miei sposalitio però faccia cosa buona che ne sarà lodato come gia ebbe vn grandissi.mo nome d’un valente Musico, hauendo udito qua quel [in marg: contrapu[n]to sopra] Salue Regina ch m’ha co[m]posta a Roma auanti la mia partenza….
But I beg Your Lordship to please entreat Signor Girolamo organist of St. Peter’s to be willing to compose with beautiful variations Psalm 84, Benedixisti domini terram tuam auertisti captiuitatem Jacob, first, and a Canzone and a Motet according to his humor and pleasure, that I might be pleased with every satisfaction and will have it sung and played when God allows me to have my nuptials. But let him make a fine thing that will be praised as he already had the greatest reputation as an expert Musician, having heard here that [counterpoint on] Salve Regina that he composed for me in Rome before my departure….
The same to the same, 13 December 1619, Fondo Faber, Filza 420, 170r-171v:
No[n] dubito ch’ il Sig.re Girolamo organista di S. Pietro porrà studio et diligenza a quello che ne ho fatto da lui richierdere tanto per il suo maggior vanto che per il mio contento….
I do not doubt that Sig. Girolamo organist of St. Peter’s will put study and diligence into what I have had requested from him, as much for his own greater praise as for my satisfaction….
The author of the letters, one Friedrich Fugger, was a member of the famous Augsburg banking house. Since his marriage was imminent he was presumably a relatively young man. He had visited Rome, where he commissioned from Frescobaldi a “counterpoint on Salve Regina.” It is notable that Fugger knew Frescobaldi above all as a composer of sacred vocal music, requested from him in addition to the Roman Salve Regina a setting of Psalm 84 and an unspecified motet, as well as an instrumental canzona.
Friedrich Fugger’s correspondent Johannes Faber (1574-1629, born Johann Schmidt in Bamberg), was one of the most prominent intellectuals in Rome. In 1600 Faber became professor of botany and reader in anatomy at the Roman university of the Sapienza, and in the same year he was named Semplicista apostolica, (papal herbalist) and supervisor of the papal herbarium. This made him a member of the papal court, where he became a regular intermediary for communication with German intellectuals and ecclesiastics. For thirty years he also served as an agent for the Fugger family. On 29 October 1611 Faber was elected a member of the prime Italian scientific society, Prince Federico Cesi’s Accademia dei Lincei (Galileo had been elected the previous 25 April), and in 1612 he became Chancellor of the academy. Faber’s intellectual mission has been described as that of weaving the Lincei into the fabric of Roman culture. Augsburg, the Fuggers’ native city, was the communications-center for the Europe-wide scholarly network of the Lincei.
In 1608 Faber had been sent by pope Paul V Borghese to Naples for two months, ostensibly to study local herbs (but really to report on the condition of the imprisoned Tommaso Campanella), where he met the botanist Fabio Colonna (elected Linceo on 27 January 1612). In 1618 Colonna published under the auspices of the Lincei his Sambuca lincea, (see Chapter 11), which proposed a keyboard instrument dividing the octave into thirty-one parts. The Sambuca was offered to Paul V in a dedication dated 18 November, 1618, and Prince Cesi entrusted Faber with its promotion at the papal court, where Colonna journeyed in the first half of 1619. (Faber was literate enough musically to provide the transcription of a popular Flemish song sung by a parrot for the showcase publication of the Lincei, the Tesoro Mexicano of 1651). Along with his fellow art connoisseur Giulio Mancini (1559-1630, Caravaggio’s doctor), Faber worked at the Ospedale S. Spirito, where Frescobaldi would become organist in 1620-21. In any case, the erudite Faber and Frescobaldi knew each other well enough for Faber to ask a considerable favor of him: another nail in the coffin of Doni’s picture of Frescobaldi as unlettered and socially inept.
Psalm 84, which Fugger chose for Frescobaldi to set, is a song of divine forgiveness, redemption, and gratitude. In the Roman liturgy it occurs in three different second-rank contexts: Christmas matins, matins of Good Friday, and sext for All Souls’ Day, November 2. The opening verse is employed more prominently as the Offertory antiphon for Advent III. Fugger seems to envision a setting for voice(s) and instruments, to be performed at his wedding: verses such as “misericordia, et veritas obviaverunt sibi: iustitia, et pax osculatae sunt” (“mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other”) would have been particularly appropriate for such an occasion. I have been unable to trace any previous polyphonic settings.
It has been conjectured that the sixteen volumes of keyboard music copied in New German keyboard tablature by a professional scribe between 1637 and 1640 (see Catalogue of Works, Turin) were assembled for some member of the Fugger family. Eight of the volumes contain works by Frescobaldi, not only copies of printed editions but also nine unpublished toccatas and three original correnti. It is tempting to assign to Friedrich Fugger, with his Roman experience and Frescobaldan connection, some role in the creation of this corpus.
Frescobaldi’s services for Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, as we have seen, included providing musicians for banquets at the cardinal’s villa in Frascati. He also performed for other patrons. Musical gatherings or “academies” were held regularly for the melomane Ferrarese Cardinal Alessandro d’Este (1568-1624, cardinal from 1599, the half- brother of Don Cesare d’Este), in his Roman palace at San Lorenzo in Lucina. At least one of these gatherings featured a special instrument, perhaps like Vicentino’s archicembalo, sent by the cardinal from Modena. In September of 1619 one of the cardinal’s household officials wrote him:
… here the first virtuosi of every sort of this Court come very often, and among the other things at least once, and often twice a week an academy of musicians is made where there gathers a good part of the Knights and gentlemen such that I believe that Your Most Illustrious Lordship would not be displeased that they came to your house … I will not omit to say that last Thursday there were many skilled people there, and among them were Messers [Ottavio] Catalani and Innocentio [perhaps the theorbist Innocentio Menghi] sent by Cardinal Borghese to see and play the harpsichord that Your Most Illustrious Lordship sent, which in truth is a divine thing and amazes all who hear it. In Rome there is no one who can play it save for Girolamo Frescobaldi of Ferrara, organist of St. Peter’s and pupil of Luzzaschi, and even Frescobaldi does not do so except with great study.
In 1620 Agostino Superbi included Girolamo among the “Illustrious Men of the City of Ferrara” in his Apparato:
At the present there still lives to the honor of his native city Girolamo Frescobaldi, a man of most beautiful talent and elevated spirit. He distinguished himself not only in music and in composition, but especially on the organ so that he acquired a name and reputation, and now belongs among the most eminent and most distinguished men. Already in his first youth he played the organ in his native city and performed sublime things. Then he was brought to Flanders, where he made himself talked of for many years, but now he resides in Rome, as organist of S. Pietro, and possesses such ability, that at the present he must be numbered among the first organists of our time. There exist many works by him, which were printed, some in Flanders, some in Milan and in Rome; in addition many Madrigals and innumerable works for the Church, which are circulated in manuscript.
In 1622 the Confraternity of the Rosary in Bologna attempted unsuccessfully to hire Frescobaldi at a salary of fifty ducatoni a year (Cavicchi in Frescobaldi 1983, 29-30). By 1624 Frescobaldi’s skill as a teacher was acknowledged in the Discorsi musicali of the Viterbese doctor Cesare Crivellati, whose son Domenico, thanks to Girolamo’s diligence, “was not unsuccessful” (“non vi habbi fatto cattiva riuscita”) in singing and harpsichord playing. Frescobaldi himself is said to have judged Domenico “the best in the art of music” (“ottimo nell’arte musicale”: Franchi 2006, 1628/3). Domenico went on to publish the first Roman cantatas to bear that designation in 1628.
The little surviving evidence of Frescobaldi’s personal life in these years shows that circumstances and his own choice continued to weaken his ties with Ferrara and to consolidate his establishment in Rome. His 1613 marriage act refers to him as “Girolamo son of the late Filippo Frescobaldi,” which indicates the breaking of Frescobaldi’s most important family tie with Ferrara. This is confirmed by a notary act of July 1619 referring to Girolamo’s half-sister Vittoria as the daughter “of the late Filippo.” In November 1615 Frescobaldi’s sister Giulia was engaged to marry, and by a notary act executed in Rome Girolamo ceded to her his share of the family house in Ferrara as part of her dowry. Girolamo’s own family continued to increase. A fourth child, Stefano, was born to Orsola del Pino in 1616 or 1617, and their last child, Caterina, arrived in September 1619 and was baptized in San Marco near Palazzo Venezia, with the Inquisitor of Malta as godfather.
A series of legal documents dating between 24 November 1617 and 16 July 1618 details an extraordinary event in Frescobaldi’s continuing relationship with his patron Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The Frescobaldis owned a house on Piazza Colonna, probably Orsola del Pino’s dowry, where her family had lived since 1610; it contained a cortile and faced onto a street leading up to Montecitorio. The house (“domuncula”: Annibaldi 1987 132) was separated from the piazza proper by the Isola Colonna, an untidy collection of rental properties in the NW corner of the piazza, visible in Jan Miel’s Carnival of 1645-50 (fig. 8.6) and demolished in 1659-60. A fresco in the Salone Sistino of the Vatican shows Piazza Colonna around 1590, including the Isola Colonna: a jumble of miscellaneous buildings two to four stories in height, some in wood some in stone, with the balcony-corridors the Romans call mignani and pergolas of greenery (fig. 8.7). A parish register of 1616 records that the Frescobaldis had rented out their house and were living nearby, perhaps in the Isola Colonna itself (Annibaldi 1987).
In 1616 Cardinal Aldobrandini had re-purchased a family house at the corner of the piazza and the Corso, which he intended to enlarge into an imposing palace (now Palazzo Chigi). This allowed him to invoke the Constitutio Gregoriana, a law allowing the confiscation of adjoining property to encourage such enterprises for augmenting the beauty and dignity of the City. On 24 November and 8 December 1617 five neighbors, including Frescobaldi and his wife, received summons from the Mastri di Strada, the two officials charged with overseeing the Roman streets under the Presidente delle Strade. (Not coincidentally, the Mastri were responsible to the Cardinal Camerlengo—Cardinal Pietro himself.) The Frescobaldis, who were technically rei or guilty parties, had no recourse but to cede their property. They could only question the valuation of the house, placed at sc. 623.62 by the cardinal’s expert and sc. 838.53 by their own. On 3 April 1618 the Mastri adjudicated the price at sc. 689.27, paid by Cardinal Pietro from Frascati on 11 May; a contract was signed by the interested parties on 22 May. In July 1618 the purchase price was invested in 6.5 luoghi di monte non vacabili, perpetual government bonds, as was often the case in such proceedings. This form of settlement meant that Frescobaldi and his wife had no other financial guarantees. It destroyed their status as property-owners, tied up their money in perpetuity, and put paid to Girolamo’s hope of establishing a patrimony based on real estate that had motivated his Mantuan venture.
After the death of Cardinal Aldobrandini in 1621, by 1623 the Frescobaldi family had moved from the parish of Sant’Eustachio to the “House of the Signora Laura” (“Casa della Signora Laura”). This was located behind Cardinal Pietro’s former palace, in Via Camilliana in the parish of Santo Stefano del Cacco at the beginning of the present Via S. Stefano, on the side of the Via Pie’ di Marmo. The Frescobaldi household remained there until 1628. (Despite a folk etymology connecting the name S. Stefano del Cacco with a statue of a baboon or macacco, it was probably a corruption of the Latin in cacumine, “at the limit.”) By 1623 the family included Girolamo’s mother-in-law Alessandra and his sister-in-law Margherita; his daughter Maddalena is not mentioned. The house must have been a large one, since according to a parish census (stato di anime, now in Santa Maria Via Lata) of 1625, it accommodated not only the Frescobaldi family but also lodgers: two Polish students, Francesco Gigli (F. Lilius, later a member of the Polish royal chapel [Barbieri 1989, 148]) and Bartolomeo Biosch; a lutenist named Gaspare Rota; a priest from Rieti, Domenico Angeli; and a German. A more detailed census of 1627-28 adds to the family Orsola’s uncle Ludovico, who had accompanied Frescobaldi to Mantua in 1615.
Frescobaldi attempted to obtain employment for the proposed festivities of 1628 in Parma to celebrate the marriage of Duke Odoardo Farnese with Margherita de’ Medici. In a letter of 31 October 1627 Guido Bentivoglio wrote to his brother Enzo, who was the producer-director or corago of the festivities:
Signor brother Yesterday there came to see me Frescobaldi, and he asked me to write Your Lordship so that you would be content to wish to propose him for the celebrations in Parma. To me it seems, so to speak, good fortune, that he is inclined to go there, whence as Your Lordship knows what a worthy man he is in his profession, he must perform the service with all greater warmth, not being able to bring you anything but honor, since there is no doubt that he would give every satisfaction there. I would indeed be very pleased that by means of Your Lordship, he were employed in this, since he wishes it so much, as being so fond of all of us, and of our House. And therefore I beg you to do to this end everything that will be possible for you, then responding to me what will happen, and in such a way that I can show him the letter . . . 
Had the twelve years that had elapsed since Frescobaldi’s last known contact with the Bentivoglio indeed brought a rapprochement between him and his first patrons, or does Guido’s phrase “so fond of all of us, and of our House” conceal an ironic smile? In any case, there is no record of Frescobaldi’s participation in the festivities.
Students and instruction
According to Paolo Faccone, Frescobaldi earned three hundred scudi a year from casual employment for churches and other patrons and from his “many students” (a standard teaching fee was sc. 2-2.50 a lesson: in 1637 Frescobaldi was paid sc. 25 for 6-7 months of lessons). The historian Fernand Braudel estimated that around 1600 a Roman family of five could survive on sc. 90 a year, and he considered an annual income of sc. 40-150 “reasonable.” Although Frescobaldi had given up his “tanti scolari” and his post with Cardinal Aldobrandini to go to Mantua, he resumed these on his return to Rome. To the musically challenged members of Enzo Bentivoglio’s musica, Frescobaldi taught elementary keyboard and continuo. But a Vatican manuscript documents his instruction in more advanced theory and composition, appropriate to students who would go on to become professionals themselves such as Nicolò Borbone, Domenico Crivellati, Luigi Gallo, and Leonardo Castellani.
The only surviving teaching manual of contrapunto alla mente of the Cinque-Seicento was produced by the brothers Giovan Maria (1543/4-1607) and Giovanni Bernardino Nanino (c. 1560-1623), both members of the Cappella Pontificia. Orazio Griffi (see below), a tenor in the Cappella, made a lost copy of the treatise in September-October 1619: four years after Giovanni Bernardino had instructed Enzo Bentivoglio’s singer Baldassare every day in subjects including passaggi, continuo, and contrapunto alla mente, and Frescobaldi had taught him keyboard rather less assiduously.
The Nanino treatise comprises cantus firmi with counterpoints. Each cantus firmus consists of six semibreves and is stated in two examples, with as many as eight possible counterpoints above them. The repeated cantus firmi are in turn arranged in pairs in a logical order, the second pair being the inversion of the preceding pair. Their interval structures are titled: ascent by step, descent by step; ascent by third, descent by fourth; descent by third, ascent by fourth; ascent by fourth, descent by fifth and its inversion; ascent by sixth and descent by fifth and its inversion; ascent and descent by octave. (This parallels the arrangement of diminution treatises, where ornamentations are also arranged by interval size.) The interval at which the descant enters above the cantus firmus is indicated numericallly: “5,” “6” etc. The cantus firmi of a series of six so-called trattenimenti consist of six repeated notes on each pitch of the natural hexachord.
Fascicle 29 of the Vatican manuscript Chigi Q. VIII. 205-206, fols. 118r-122v (the folios also have an alternate numbering, 120r-124v) contains examples of counterpoint written entirely in Frescobaldi’s calligraphic hand, presumably as models for the instruction of a student (fig. 8.8: BAV, Chigi Q. VIII. 205-206, fol. 119r (from Jeanneret 2009, 228); for Chigi Q. VIII. 205-206, fol. 120 v, see: https://digi.vatlib.it/.). The exercises consist of upper voices against pairs of cantus firmus bass-notes in breves forming cadences. The breves are placed on a staff at the top of the page with the alternate added voices in soprano clef on seven or eight staves underneath. Frescobaldi follows a principle of systematic ordering similar to the Nanino treatise. The movement of the two-note bass cadences in breves is indicated on tabs at the side of the page: “Grado in SV,” (“A Step UP,” fol. 118r-v), “Grado in Giu’,” (“A Step Down,” fol. 119r-v), “Terza in SV” (“A Third UP,” fol. 120r-v), “Terza in Giù” (“Third Down,” fol. 121r-v), “Quarta in SV” (“Fourth Up,” fol. 122r-v). As in the Nanino treatise, the interval above the bass at which the descanting voice enters is indicated (here in an arch above the staff): Grado in SV: 15, 13, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3; Grado in Giu’: 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15; Terza in SV: 15, 13, 12, 10 etc.
A more dramatic situation is presented in fascicle 56, fols. 209r-229v of the same manuscript, where Frescobaldi engages with a pupil before our eyes, as it were. (If the pupil is Leonardo Castellani, who began to collect manuscripts ca. 1630, the date of the fascicle is probably ca. 1628.) Darbellay’s study of fascicle 56 (Darbellay 2015) summarises the relation between master and pupil. Frescobaldi’s contributions in a non-calligraphic hand comprise: 1) complete examples or beginnings and/or ends of examples; 2) local interventions with cancellations or overwriting. Where the student’s solutions are melodically and/or rhythmically routine, Frescobaldi’s are dynamic: his reaction to the pupil’s insipid offering on fol. 210v fairly crackles with exasperation (fig. 8.9).
Each page consists of six staves with previously-ruled semibreve measure-bars. Frescobaldi furnished in a calligraphic hand a series of cantus firmi, to which the pupil was to add one or two independent voices, to be corrected subsequently in cursive script by the master. The length of the given cantus firmus varies from nine semibreve pitches through ten, twelve, and fifteen, up to sixteen. The cantus firmus was written in the bass clef on the top staff, the alternate counterpoints were added on the five lower staves in soprano clef. Longer cantus firmi begin on fol. 216v, and the exercise is then laid out in campo aperto format, running across the verso-recto opening. On fol. 220v the texture widens to two obbligato voices, indicated by a brace, added to the cantus.
The closest point of contact between the Nanino treatise and Frescobaldi’s fascicle 56 is the Nanino ascent and descent by steps, comprising the six pitches of the natural hexachord (CDEFGA; AGFEDC, also the subjects of Frescobaldi’s first two Capricci). Frescobaldi’s f. 221v begins with CDEFG, while his cantus on c. 223v presents both ascending and descending forms of the natural hexachord. Frescobaldi’s fols. 224v-225r show a symmetrical subject that could be described in Nanino’s terms as ascent by third, descent by step.
The Cappella Giulia under Paul V 1615-1621
Frescobaldi continued to serve regularly with the Cappella Giulia. The performances of the Cappella included increasingly elaborate celebrations for Peter and Paul and the Dedication, often with music for three and four choirs and multiple continuo organists, Frescobaldi always serving as first organist. Andrea Amici’s diary offers details of musical events in which Frescobaldi participated. On 29 September 1615, St. Michael, the Cappella sang mass and second vespers at the Chapter’s nearby tied church of S. Michele and provided music throughout the octave of the feast, using the portable organ from the basilica:
since there were a lot of people gathered for the entire octave, in the evening half an hour before sunset there was always made a bit of music by a part of our singers, singing some beautiful motet with the organ, which was carried there from St. Peter’s, and [which] stayed there for the whole octave, and at the end they sang the litanies [of the Virgin], or the Salve [Regina].
On 17 June 1617 the feast of the Translation of St. Gregory Nazianzus was celebrated in the Cappella Gregoriana, which was used in summer “since it was a much cooler place than the choir” (“per esser luogo assai più fresco del coro”: O’Regan 1999, 145) “all with music and organ, since the singers were all at the organ” (“con musica et organo tutta, che li cantori sono tutti stati all’organo”). Confusingly, the body of St. Gregory the Great was venerated in the Cappella Clementina; the Cappella Gregoriana was dedicated to another Gregory, St. Gregory Nazianzus (Rice 1997, 37). On 1 September vespers were disturbed by a raucous street fair in nearby Borgo: the office was performed in polyphony but “very higgledy-piggledy, as if the singers had the police after them” (O’Regan 1999, 147: “in musica ma molto alla strapazzona, che parevano che li cantori havessero li sbirri dietro”).
On 30 September of 1618 the repeated absence of the portative organ for the feast of S. Michele prompted Amici to the only specific mention of a piece of music in his first diary, Francesco Soriano’s double-choir reworking of the most famous Palestrina mass:
the mass was sung in the [Cappella] Gregoriana at the Most Holy Sacrament, since the little organetto, which was carried to S. Michele on the occasion of the feast, was not in the choir. The mass that was sung is titled Papæ Marcelli of Palestrina with the score of the whole thing for the organ arranged by Soriano for two choirs which is one of the most beautiful masses that one can hear … 
On 3 June of 1619 the Chapter “decreed that the organ presently placed in the choir must no longer be removed in the future, nor carried off elsewhere [except] for good reasons.” Nonetheless, it was moved to S. Michele again in 1623: “… again there was all the musica and the organ was also carried there. In the said church for lack of singers neither the first nor the second vespers was sung, but the Salve [Regina] was sung with organ.”
For the Feast of the Assumption (15 August) in 1619 the mass was again celebrated in the Cappella Gregoriana with music for double choir and organ. The music for the Nativity of the Virgin (8 September) was performed in the Cappella del Coro (presumably with the organetto in place for once) and with the musicians on a platform. Amici judged it “nothing out of the ordinary” (O’Regan 1999, 138: “niente di straordinario”).
Amici’s dismissal of the music for the Nativity of the BVM perhaps reflects a disillusion with the performance of the Cappella Giulia under the septuagenarian Francesco Soriano. In May-June of 1620 Soriano protested his advanced age and weakness to the Chapter, and on 23 June 1620 they appointed Vincenzo Ugolini (1580-1638) as coadjutor.
Although Ugolini formally succeeded only on Soriano’s death on 20 July 1621, he was already acting as maestro of the Cappella by Pentecost, 7 June1620. In an unusual reference to Frescobaldi by all but name, Amici reported for that day:
Within the Choir there was no musica [group of musicians] but a choir [of singers] was made specially in the chapel called St. Stephen’s, where there was also put the organetto, which usually stays in the Choir, and another group of musicians was placed at the large organ. The music was under the direction of the maestro di cappella of S. Luigi called Ugolino, and the organist of S. Pietro played one organ and I don’t know who it was played another [organ],… 
On 28 October of 1620 Cardinal Scipione Borghese took possession as archpriest of the basilica with new music by Ugolini: the three-choir motet Exultate omnes and possibly a double-choir mass celebrating the new Borghese chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore (both published in Ugolini’s Motecta et Missae, dedicated to the cardinal: Rome: 1622, Luca Antonio Soldi.) For the Dedication in 1620 twenty-one singers were employed, with S.r Lorenzo [Ratti] “for the beat” (“per la battuta”); Heredia and Ricchi were extra organists in addition to Frescobaldi. Two organs were rented, and a third instrument was provided gratis by Maccione according to the terms of his contract (CG 167, 1620). Ugolino continued to expand the role of the organ in the liturgy. At Christmas Matins of 1620:
the Invitatorium and the psalm Venite were all sung in music with organ, which was no small novelty of the new maestro di cappella, but it was pleasing to few. The Hymn [was] all in music, the preceding Antiphons all in contrapunto, and at the end [of the psalms] they [the antiphons] were all repeated by the organ … The Responsories [of the chanted lessons] were all sung in music with organ.
The Cappella Giulia: Gregory XV Ludovisi 1621-1623
On 28 January 1621 Paul V died unexpectedly. The Bolognese Cardinal Alessandro Ludovisi was easily elected on 9 February and took the name Gregory XV. His election ended the enmity between the Aldobrandini and the ruling papal family, although Frescobaldi’s patron Cardinal Pietro died two days later, too soon to enjoy the amnesty. By the winter of 1621-22 there was famine in the City, followed by flooding of the Tiber, and in March 1622 there began a plague which lasted a year (and which may have taken Girolamo’s second child, Maddalena). Pope Gregory tried to offset these disasters with splendid public ceremonies, most notably the canonization in March of 1622 of four great heroes of the Counter-Reformation—Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri—as well as Isidore the Worker. The triumph of the Madonna della Vittoria the following May celebrated the crushing Protestant defeat at the Battle of the White Mountain in December 1620. Nonetheless, when Gregory XV died on 8 July of 1623 the diarist Giacinto Gigli observed that the Romans had been more wearied by twenty-nine months of Gregory than by nearly sixteen years of Paul.
The services at St. Peter’s continued under Ugolini with large doses of organ music. On Candlemass (2 February) 1621 at Vespers in choir “the organ was played there.” St. Gregory (12 March 1621): “and there was made good music with organs &c.” 4 April, 1621, Palm Sunday: “Today at vespers they played [the organ] a half-hour early on account of the sermon.” 7 April, Wednesday in Holy Week: the choirmaster “lengthened the beat of the lamentations … two in music, and one in plainchant by a soprano, the lessons of the second and third nocturns were all sung by singers, and the Celebrant sang the last … of the Responsories the greater part were sung in music [composed] by the new maestro di cappella.” 18 May (St. Helen): “the mass was sung in music and the organ played … As usual the large organ played, after vespers Compline was sung.” At Christmas Cardinal [Ippolito] Aldobrandini “sang lauds in the usual manner with organ and music.”
Like most Roman musicians, Frescobaldi earned extra money by casual employment in Roman churches on festive occasions, as performer or as the supervising maestro di cappella. The archive of the Arciconfraternita of the Gonfalone records a meeting on 10 October 1622 at which “Signor Gironimo the Musician, at present Organist of San Pietro, was deputed for the customary music of the next feast of Santa Lucia [13 December] in the said Church of ours [Santa Lucia del Gonfalone] with the usual salary, giving to this Signor Gironimo all responsibility for providing the said music.” A document of 11 December 1623 records: “To S.r Gironimo Frescobaldi Maestro di Cappella fifty-two scudi in cash that is 36 scudi for the music done in S. Lucia at the vespers of the vigil and the mass and vespers of the feast of that saint, 6 scudi as a gratuity and 10 scudi for the music of the general anniversaries and the Quarantore.” Documents from the 1630s show that the feast of Santa Lucia was customarily celebrated by hiring three or four sopranos, two or three altos, three tenors, and three basses, plus two violins, lute, an extra organ, and two organists.
The financial records of San Luigi de’ Francesi, the French national church in Rome, show that “Sr. Gironimo organista di S. Pietro” served as one of two extra organists for the church’s patronal festival, 25 August, in 1624-27, 1634-36, and 1638, at a salary of two scudi. He performed under the direction of various maestri di cappella (chosen separately for each single feast): Anselmo Anselmi, Romano Micheli, Cristoforo de’ Rossi, and Vincenzo Ugolino. The number of organists employed varied from two to five, and over the years Frescobaldi’s colleagues included Orazio Benevolo, Pellegrino Scacchi, Franceschino Mutij, Antonio Cifra, and Giovanni Giacomo Porro, his eventual replacement at St. Peter’s during his Florentine sojourn.
One employment was far more than casual. On 7 June 1620, Pentecost, Frescobaldi became organist of Santo Spirito in Sassia (fig. 8.10), following the death of the church’s organist the day before (presumably a precautionary arrangement had been made in advance):
… yesterday at the 22nd hour there died the organist of S. Spirito, esteemed for a good and holy life, because he had always lived with great and voluntary poverty […] The said organist was called Andrea, and he might have been about 40; and although he was not a priest, nonetheless everyone called him Father Andrea.
Like Ercole Pasquini, who also had served at Santo Spirito, Frescobaldi was paid three scudi rather than the normal twenty-five giuli (sc. 2.50) per month (an under-payment in July was subsequently compensated).
Santo Spirito and its adjacent hospital are situated in Borgo Santo Spirito, near the Vatican. The complex of buildings contained Luca Antonio Soldi’s printing shop, where Frescobaldi’s 1624 Capricci were printed. The church was rebuilt by Antonio Sangallo the Younger (1485-1546) after the Sack of Rome in 1527 as a large oratorio-like building without transepts, richly frescoed and decorated. It still retains the façades of two sixteenth-century organs: a large instrument also designed by Sangallo (1547) in a balcony halfway down the south side of the nave over the side entrance (fig. 8.11), and a smaller one on the north side of the apse, corresponding to a cantoria on the opposite side (Howe 2003). As at St. Peter’s, soon after Frescobaldi’s appointment at Santo Spirito the instruments of the church were put in order. Armodio Maccione (or Mazzoni), builder of the 1611 movable organ for St. Peter’s, was paid nineteen scudi for “taking apart both organs of the aforesaid church and redoing some pipes and other work” and for tuning the organs. Frescobaldi continued at Santo Spirito until mid-March of the following year and was succeeded by Sigismondo Arsille from mid-March of 1621 to mid-1622.
It is difficult to understand how Frescobaldi reconciled his post at the Cappella Giulia with the duties of the organist at Santo Spirito:
There is the organist to whom is given 2.50 scudi a month[;] only on solemn feasts is he given breakfast in the Refectory of the priests and he is obligated at all the feast-days for Mass and vespers, every Saturday at the exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament for the Litanies of the Madonna an hour before sunset. He is also obligated for the Matins of Easter with the two following days, at Pentecost, and other solemn feasts throughout the year which are omitted for the sake of brevity.
In 1613 Cesare Zoilo wrote to Enzo Bentivoglio: “… that in S. Spirito I am obliged every day in perpetuity at the sung mass, and at Vespers, and likewise every day I must teach counterpoint to some Boys of the Chapel…” In addition, the organist was expected to teach the choirboys to play the harpsichord: Leonardo Castellani, later associated with the destiny of Frescobaldi’s manuscripts, was a choirboy and presumably his pupil at Santo Spirito during 1619-1621. Some accommodation must have been made to avoid conflicts with Saint Peter’s since musicians from the basilica performed regularly at Santo Spirito. Frescobaldi himself returned from August through December of 1626, and at Pentecost, the church’s feast of title, in 1628 he performed four services with four singers from the basilica under the direction of Paolo Agostino, now maestro of the Cappella Giulia.
Perhaps the most unusual duty of the organist of Santo Spirito was that of playing the organ of the adjacent hospital for the patients during their morning and evening meals “to alleviate and cheer the sick.” The diarist John Evelyn described the hospital (fig. 8.12) after a visit on 25 January 1645:
The infirmary where the sick lay was all rarely paved with various colored marbles and the walls hung with noble pieces [pictures]: the Beds are very faire: In the middle is a stately Cupola, under which [is] an altar decked with divers marble statues, all in sight of the sick, who may both see, & heare Masse as they lye in their beds: The Organs are very fine, & frequently play’ed on to recreate the people in paine.
One of the four medical doctors of Santo Spirito was Giulio Mancini (1559-1630), who served there from 1592 and became papal physician to Urban VIII in 1623 but who is now better remembered as the author of the manuscript Considerazioni sulla pittura (ca. 1617-22), a founding document of art history. Significantly, one of Mancini’s main tenets was the power of works of art to instruct and to heal.
Frescobaldi only appears once in the records of the Cappella Pontificia. In April of 1623 he interceded for the sixteen-year-old soprano Gregorio Lazzarini to be spared a fine (punto) for an unexcused absence (perhaps performing with Frescobaldi at Santa Lucia?). (In the 1630 Apostolic Visitation of the Cappella, Lazzarini was described as “Cleric, from Ancona, 23 years of age and ten of service, without benefices and without pension” [Annibaldi 20112, 289]). However, Frescobaldi made the request not directly but through another singer of the Cappella, the bass Pietro Giorgi, who arrived late at the meeting of the Cappella. To underscore the point that such requests were to be made in person, the puntatore of the Cappella fined Lazzarini not the customary carlino (7.5 baiocchi) but a whole scudo,100 baiocchi (the annual pay of a singer of the Cappella Pontificia was 200 scudi), the penalty for going to sing outside the Cappella (“fuori” ) without permission.
Urban VIII Barberini
After the death of Gregory XV on 8 July 1623, the ensuing conclave (conducted according to new rules promulgated by Gregory) developed into a battle between the Borghese and Ludovisi factions, prolonging the period of sede vacante to four weeks. Finally the summer heat and the threat of malaria forced the cardinals to a decision: on 6 August 1623, the feast of the Transfiguration, they elected the fifty-six-year-old Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, who took the name Urban VIII (fig. 8.13). His election was presided over astrologically by the Great Conjunction of the Sun, Leo, and Jupiter. Urban was the youngest of the candidates; in person he was handsome and dignified, except for a tendency toward fits of anger. His cultivated intellect was displayed in the composition of sacred and secular Italian and Latin verse, later set to music by Kapsberger, Domenico Mazzocchi, and Francesca Caccini.
The artistic consequences of Urban’s reign, the longest of the century, were widely felt. The young Gian Lorenzo Bernini was given virtually unlimited control over the program of St. Peter’s and of much of Rome. The exterior of the basilica was completed and the church consecrated in 1626; under Urban’s direction crucial decisions were made for the form and decoration of the central complex of the interior. The elevation of the Barberini clan along with Urban provided a new and seemingly inexhaustible source of artistic patronage which supported established artists such as Carlo Maderno and fostered younger ones, notably Bernini, Pietro da Cortona, Francesco Borromini, and Andrea Sacchi. The pope and his family commissioned not only churches and palaces, along with their decorations and furnishings, but more ephemeral if no less significant projects as well: chivalric combats, religious spectacles, and music—sacred and secular, vocal and instrumental—but especially opera.
How did the election of this amiable prelate inaugurate the golden age of seventeenth-century Rome? First, Urban’s reign coincided with a remarkable flowering of artistic talent as well as with a high point of papal finances. Second, he did not so much change the traditional forms of patronage as exercise them with a logic—principally through the promotion of Bernini as chief artistic consultant—and on a scale previously unprecedented. Third, his own efforts during the first part of his reign, which centered on St. Peter’s and large public enterprises, were increasingly supplemented by the patronage of his three gifted nephews, more concerned with the family properties and with public spectacles. Even Paul V Borghese could quip that his brother Francesco’s new palace was “too big a cage for such a bird,” but the Barberini ambition seemed limitless. Where earlier popes had generally vested access to themselves in a single cardinal-nephew, Urban raised to the purple two of his three nephews, Francesco and Antonio, and a brother, another Antonio. The pope’s other brother, Carlo, was appointed General of the Church, and Carlo’s brother-in-law was also named a cardinal; the pope’s remaining nephew, Carlo’s middle son Taddeo, became Prince of Palestrina and Prince Prefect of Rome and was grafted on to the older Roman nobility by marriage to Anna Colonna, daughter of the Contestabile Colonna: her brother Girolamo was also made a cardinal.
Previous popes had concentrated their patronage on a few religious foundations, but Urban commissioned a family chapel in Sant’Andrea della Valle, subsidised Bernini’s restoration of Santa Bibiana, contributed to his brother Antonio’s foundation of Santa Maria della Concezione, and completed St. Peter’s as his principal monument. In addition to the papal residences at the Quirinal and the Vatican, the Barberini palaces eventually included the palace at Palestrina, Urban’s original Roman house in the Via de’ Giubbonari, the Palazzo della Cancelleria which Francesco occupied from 1632 as Vice-Chancellor of the Church, and the great new family palace at the Quattro Fontane, the work of Carlo Maderno, Bernini, Borromini, Andrea Sacchi, and Pietro da Cortona. Even these dwellings were not sufficient, and the Barberini had to rent additional lodging for their servants and dependents (famiglia).
The Cappella Giulia under Urban VIII
Under the new pope the special feasts of the basilica continued to be celebrated with polychoral splendor. At the Dedication of 1623 the ceremonial diary unusually mentions by name both the maestro di cappella Ugolini and a polychoral parody mass of his, so far unidentified, on a motet of Soriano:
The mass [celebrated by archpriest Cardinal] Borghese was all sung by three, and four choirs with three organs etc. The music was almost all new done by signor Vincenzo Ugolini our maestro di cappella on that most beautiful Motet of the late sig. Francesco Soriano our maestro di cappella [12 v., bc, Venice 1616], which begins In dedicatione templi etc. and this is held to be one of the most beautiful compositions of Ugolino …
Ugolini’s employment of the organ sometimes encroached on the liturgical norms: 7 January 1624:
Today … of the musical cappella, although they did the office as a semidouble of the Sunday within the octave [of the Epiphany] nonetheless they had the organ play at the end of all the psalms, it being customary in semidoubles to play only at the end of the last psalm, as is especially noted above in the year 1620 on the said Sunday within the octave of the Epiphany and which has also been noted by many as an error because the antiphon was not sung either at the beginning or at the end of the psalms.
1 November 1624 [All Saints]: “Today second vespers was sung in Choir with six [cantors in] Copes, and good music was made as also this morning at mass, which was all sung with two and three choirs, with the continuo for the organs.” A motet was sung after vespers “since there was no office of the dead.” For first vespers of the feast of San Carlo, 3 November: “The psalms were all intoned in music, which was for four Choirs, with four organs, and many other instruments. The other four Antiphons were all intoned by the singers … [4 November] the music was done like yesterday for four Choirs.”
The first great solemnity of Urban VIII’s reign was the celebration of the Holy Year of 1625, beginning with the unsealing of the Porta Santa of St. Peter’s on Christmas Eve of 1624 (fig. 8.14). On 25 May 1625 the pope canonized Saint Elizabeth of Portugal in a ceremony whose decorations by Bernini included the first project for the new baldacchino over the high altar, the bronze for which was already being removed from the porch of the Pantheon. New music was acquired for the Cappella Pontificia and the Cappella Giulia (Palestrina motets and Soriano psalms), and the Cappella Giulia accounts list the moving of organs for three- and four-choir performances.
For the feast of the Dedication in the Holy Year of 1625 first vespers were sung by two choirs; matins, mass, and second vespers were performed by three choirs. At matins the celebrant waited “until the Choir finished a Simphonia” (“fintanto che il Coro ha finito una Simphonia”: Rostirolla 2004, 446).
Amici reported of second vespers:
the Music was much fuller than yesterday, since there was an additional choir, that is three Choirs, while yesterday there were only two, and I imagine, that in all three there were little less than sixty Singers not counting the instruments. In these two Vespers there was no mixture of plainchant of any sort and all the psalms were intoned by the singers.
The members of the Cappella Giulia who performed comprised the maestro Ugolini, Frescobaldi, six sopranos, and four each of altos, tenors, and basses. To these were added six altos and six sopranos (two castrati and four boys), and five each of tenors and basses, many of them from the Cappella Pontificia, and a violone. Lorenzo Ratti was assistant conductor. Of organists in addition to Frescobaldi, Pietro Eredia was hired for all three services, and Giovanni Battista Ricchi, Frescobaldi’s predecessor at Santa Maria in Trastevere, served for two functions. Two organs were provided for three services and a third for two services (Rostirolla 2004, 447- 48).
On 6 February 1626 the Chapter of St. Peter’s summarily dismissed Vincenzo Ugolini as maestro of the Cappella Giulia and replaced him by Paolo Agostino (ca. 1583-1629), maestro di cappella of S. Lorenzo in Damaso. Since a “perpetual silence” was imposed on the matter the reasons have never been discovered (Rostirolla 2014, I, 361-67). (Virgilio Mazzocchi succeeded on Agostini’s untimely death in 1629—“not without suspicion of poison.”)
In 1626 the canons of the Chapter, who had moved to a temporary chapel at the altar of Sts. Simon and Jude in 1609, were established in a permanent Cappella del Coro, which necessitated a re-systematization of the 1496 organ. The architect and wood-worker Giovanni Battista Soria made a new façade on the Clementina side for the organ in 1624. The prospect was divided into three arches, with columns carved with Corinthian capitals, putti, foliage, inscriptions, latticework, and the arms of Urban VIII (Lunelli 1958, 88; Ringbeck 1989, 108).
After considerable work between 1624 and 1626 by the basilica’s new organ builder and technician Ennio Bonifazi, the nephew of Armodio Maccioni, the organ was removed from its previous location and placed on the screen between the Cappella Clementina and the new canons’ choir, so that it could sound into both chapels (the new façade faced into the Clementina, the old buffet into the Cappella del Coro: Lunelli 1958, 82-86).
On the feast of St. Gregory, 12 March 1626, the restored organ was inaugurated, presumably by Frescobaldi, in its new site. According to Amici: “This morning after Terce at the altar of St. Gregory the Great the Mass of the said Saint was sung with the customary music, and the organ of the new Choir, which responds toward the Choir and toward the said altar of St. Gregory, was played for the first time.” A month later Urban VIII came down to the basilica and “heard the new organ which succeeded very well” (“intese l’organo nuovo che riuscì molto bene”).
On 1 May 1626 the Chapter celebrated the translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom to the altar of their new Cappella del Coro, consecrated on July 22, with a polychoral mass. Paolo Agostino directed the first chorus, accompanied by Frescobaldi, and Agostino Cifra conducted the second, accompanied by Giovanni Giacomo Porro (Lugano ca. 1590-Munich 1656), Agostino’s successor as maestro of San Lorenzo in Damaso (1626-ca. 1630). Music for the feast of Peter and Paul in 1626 comprised three choirs.
The 1580 organ was also repaired and repositioned. By 1628 the Congregation of the Fabbrica had moved the organ to a screen on the opening between the Cappella Gregoriana and the New Sacristy (= Cappella della Trinità = Cappella del Sacramento), corresponding to the placement of the 1496 instrument sounding into the Cappella Clementina and the Cappella del Coro. The organ was likewise furnished with a new façade by Soria, facing into Bernini’s Sacrament Chapel (see fig. 11.2), while the old façade (dated 1582 and now the only survivor of the four original façades) faced into the Gregoriana.
Paolo Agostino’s first year of office included an event of enormous significance. In 1626 the feast of the Dedication on 18 November was celebrated not merely as the commemoration of the Constantinian basilica but as the formal consecration of its successor by the pope—the culmination of a project that had indirectly precipitated the Protestant Reformation and had involved the greatest Italian artists and papal patrons for well over a century. The Diario of the Cappella Pontificia records that the service was performed in chant, with polyphonic motets sung only during the papal low mass that preceded the ceremony. Even without canto figurato, the consecration lasted more than four hours. A tapestry by Fabio Cristofani from the series of the life of Urban VIII depicts the moment in which the consecrating bishop (in this case the pope) inscribes the Greek and Latin alphabets with the butt of his crosier on a cross drawn with ashes on the pavement of the church (fig. 8.15). At second vespers the Cappella Giulia performed music for two or three choirs with reduced forces. In 1627 the Cappella celebrated the Dedication with four choirs and instruments, including trombones, cornetts, a violin, and four organs.
The music for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on 29 June 1628, the largest of these polychoral performances during the first years of Urban VIII’s reign, was also Frescobaldi’s last important public appearance before his removal to Florence the following November. At second vespers of the feast Agostino produced a work of unusual grandeur. “In the name of the Lord Jesus amen … second vespers of Sts. Peter and Paul 1628 Being made music for twelve Choirs by me Paolo Agostini Maestro di Cappella … in honor of the twelve Apostles.” This music might have included the vespers psalm Dixit Dominus, of which a setting for six choirs by Agostino survives, with the choirs doubled to produce the twelve-choir setting.
Frescobaldi presided at the first organ amid Rome’s most distinguished musicians. The castrato and composer Loreto Vittori headed some twenty sopranos, while Stefano Landi contributed his services and those of eight additional singers; the contraltos numbered twenty, the tenors nineteen, and the basses seventeen. The accompanying instruments included five cornetts, seven violins, a contralto viola, two tenor viole, a contralto di violino, six trombones, a violone, and a bassoon. The twelve apostolic choirs were conducted by musicians from the papal court, maestri in the service of Roman churches and cardinals’ households (including Domenico Mazzocchi and Nicolò Borbone, the engraver of Frescobaldi’s two books of toccatas), all led by Agostino himself. The roster of organists, headed by “Sig.r Girolamo,” similarly included musicians from the most important churches of the City: Girolamo’s predecessor Alessandro Costantini and the organists of the Chiesa Nuova (Giovanni Battista Ferrini), the Araceli, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and Santo Spirito. This gathering of musicians also represented three foci of Roman church music: St. Peter’s, the Congregazione di Santa Cecilia, and the Oratorio.
Frescobaldi may not have performed at the commemoration of the Dedication on 18 November 1628 (although he signed his last salary receipt on that day), which was musically somewhat less impressive. Twenty-three extra singers (SATB, 5 5 7 6) were employed, plus pairs of violins and cornetts, five trombones, violone, and bassoon; four extra organs were hired for a total of five, played by five extra organists; four extra conductors were involved in directing the six choirs, which again may have performed Agostini’s six-choir Dixit Dominus.
Santa Cecilia; sacred and secular vocal music
Frescobaldi’s close association with members of the Congregation of Santa Cecilia renders somewhat otiose the question of his own membership. In any case, his publications during these years link him with the composers of the Congregazione at a time when its activities affected every Roman musician. The old Compagnia dei Musici seems to have fallen into desuetude by 1620 (it was referred to as the “new company of the singers of Rome to be set up” by the puntatore of the Cappella Pontificia). The Compagnia was revived in 1621 through the efforts of Orazio Griffi (ca. 1566-1624). Griffi, the copyist in 1619 of the Nanino contrapuntal treatise, was a priest of the Casa di San Girolamo, was, a tenor in the Cappella Pontificia, and a composer and organist closely associated with the Oratorian movement at the Vallicella and San Girolamo della Carità. Once the Compagnia was established in the little church of San Paolino in Piazza Colonna, near the Frescobaldi family’s former house, in the spring of 1624 it petitioned Urban VIII for what amounted to control of the musical life of Rome: the right to censor all musical publications, to license schools of music, and to oversee the membership of choirs. In November of 1624 Urban granted Santa Cecilia the supervision of musical publication and the right to license those who wished to open schools of music. But when the Congregation attempted to exercise these prerogatives in 1626 by sequestering the Arie of Francesco Severi, a member of the Cappella Pontificia, for infringing their publishing monopoly, the outcry from the papal musicians was such that Urban revoked the privileges.
The linkage among the Congregation of Santa Cecilia, the Oratorian movement, and the musicians associated with the Cappella Giulia is evident in the sacred collections issued during these years. Frescobaldi published small sacred concertos in four surviving anthologies. The first was the Selectæ cantiones (Rome: Zannetti, 1616). This volume of motets for 2-4 voices and continuo was assembled by Alessandro Costantini’s brother Fabio, maestro di cappella of Santa Maria in Trastevere, who dedicated it to his and Frescobaldi’s employer, Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. Frescobaldi’s single contribution, “Peccavi super numerum” (SST, bc), appeared among works by G. B. Nanino, Felice Anerio, Ottavio Catalani, both Costantini brothers, Stefano Landi, Cardinal Pietro’s musician Ruggiero Giovannelli, and others.
In 1618 Fabio Costantini, now maestro di cappella of Orvieto, published Frescobaldi’s “Angelus ad pastores” (CT, bc) in a similar anthology, Scelta di motetti (Rome: Zannetti, 1618). This collection of works by Roman composers (Anerio, Paolo Quagliati, Vincenzo Ugolini, the Constantinis, Paolo Agostino, Ercole Pasquini) was dedicated to an otherwise unidentified Count Cesare Bentivoglio. Late in 1621 G. B. Robletti, who later printed the part-book version of Frescobaldi’s 1628 Canzoni, issued the Lilia campi, modelled on the collections of the Costantini brothers. This contained Frescobaldi’s eucharistic motet “Ego sum panis vivus” (SST, bc) together with a selection of works by older composers (Francesco Soriano, Quagliati, Giovanelli, Catalano, Anerio); mature ones (Frescobaldi, Ugolini, Tarditi, Costantini); and younger masters (Stefano Landi and Francesco Severi: Franchi 2006, 1621/16). The volume was dedicated to the cardinal-nephew of the new pope Gregory XV, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi (1595-1632). Girolamo’s “Iesu rex admirabilis” (CCT, bc) was published in Francesco Sammaruco’s Sacri affetti (1625), printed by Luca Antonio Soldi, who issued Frescobaldi’s Capricci of the previous year. The anthology, rather hastily assembled for the Jubilee year, was a product of the Santo Spirito complex, where the editor Sammaruco, the dedicatee Cardinal Madruzzo, and the printer Soldi all resided. The volume is notable for including not only works by Roman composers but also by northerners such as Grandi and Monteverdi (Franchi 2006, 1625/2). With these exceptions, most of the composers of all four collections were associated with both Santa Cecilia and St. Peter’s: at least nine of them performed in the 1628 vespers of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Frescobaldi also contributed to two of Fabio Costantini’s volumes of secular music, the Ghirlandetta amorosa (Orvieto, 1621: “Alla Gloria all honori,” C/T, bc) and the Aurata Cintia (Orvieto, 1622: “Era l’anima mia,” on a Marino text, CC/bc). G. B. Robletti’s Giardino musicale (1621), dedicated to Paolo Quagliati, contained Frescobaldi’s “O bell’occhi” (C/bc, 3 parts). These works may have been the “four madrigals to sing with the organ, without playing,” which Frescobaldi told Toscani “is not a good thing to send forth.”
Such publications were part of a larger wave including Monteverdi’s brilliant Madrigali VII (1619) and the continuing reprints of his epoch-making fifth book of 1605. The musical flowering of this period is equally apparent in prints of solo and ensemble instrumental music. The most important solo keyboard collections included Trabaci’s second book of ricercars (Naples: Carlino, 1615), Antonio Cifra’s two books of ricercars and canzonas (Rome: Soldi, 1619), the first book modelled on Frescobaldi’s Recercari et canzoni, and Giovanni Picchi’s Intavolatura di balli (Venice: Vincenti, 1621). In 1623 Alessandro Piccinini, Girolamo’s former associate in the Bentivoglio musica, published his Intavolatura di liuto, dedicated to Enzo Bentivoglio. The first wave of collections for instrumental ensemble included publications by Kapsberger, Giovanni Gabrieli, Salomone Rossi, Carlo Farina, and Biagio Marini.
A rapid survey of the music published during this period shows significant productions in the fields of church music, secular vocal music, opera, solo keyboard, and instrumental ensemble music. Between 1615 and 1628 Frescobaldi published works in every one of these categories except the opera. He seems to have made his way gradually into the field of small sacred concertos by publishing single works in anthologies such as those of Costantini. His first complete volume of sacred concertos is lost, but in 1627 he issued a Liber secundus diversarum modulationum (Rome: Andrea Fei) containing thirty-two motets for one to four voices and continuo. This was probably intended for performance in St. Peter’s since it is dedicated to Cardinal Scipione Borghese, Archpriest of the basilica. (In the same year that the Liber secundus was published Paolo Agostino, maestro of the Cappella Giulia, was issuing six volumes of masses and motets with Frescobaldi’s sometime publisher Robletti.) The original of the Latin dedication of the Liber secundus has recently been discovered among the papers of Bernini’s friend Lelio Guidiccioni (1570-1643), in 1627 a prominent member of Cardinal Scipione’s circle. After the cardinal’s death in 1633 in January 1637 Guidiccioni became a gentilhuomo of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, to whom he dedicated several works, including his translation of the Æneid (1632) and his Rime I (1637): another evidence of Frescobaldi’s familiarity with some of the most cultivated men of seventeenth-century Rome.
The Capricci (1624)
Frescobaldi’s major publications during this period comprised instrumental works: the second version of the first book of toccatas (1615-16), the ricercars and canzonas dedicated to Cardinal Aldobrandini (1615), the capriccios (1624), the second book of toccatas (1627), and two versions of a volume of canzonas for one to four instruments and continuo (1628).
In his twelve Capricci fatti sopra diversi soggetti, Frescobaldi recalled his Ferrarese origins and his studies with Luzzaschi both in the dedication and in a letter of 2 June 1624 to the dedicatee, Alfonso d’Este, Prince of Modena:
… you [Your Highness] are the generous son of that Most Serene House, that has always been the home [refuge] of the fine arts, and especially of the art that Luzzasco rendered himself so dear a servant [of that Most Serene House], that I take heart, under this title alone of having been his student, of covering my imperfections, as he under such great protection had the fortune to render more worthy of note the marvel of that art.
Frescobaldi’s dedication was opportune, since in a letter of 2 March 1624 Monteverdi had noted in a letter to Ferdinando Gonzaga, “Since the Most Serene Lord the Prince of Modena is beginning to delight in music as he does”. (In the same year Sigismondo d’India dedicated his Book VIII of madrigals à 5 to Alfonso’s wife, Isabella of Savoy [d. 1626], as having been composed in her service for “a musical ensemble, formed by a gathering (I will say perhaps) of the best singers, that Europe can hear today” (“un musico concerto, formato da una adunanza [dirò forse] de’ megliori cantanti, ch’hoggi ascoltar possa l’Europa”: Carter 1996, 42). Frescobaldi emerged onto the greater stage of Italian music publishing in 1626 when the great published Alessandro Vincenti of Venice issued a volume combining the Capricci (without the variation-capriccio “Or che noi rimena”) with the Recercari, minus the dedication of either collection. This combination was successful enough to be reissued already in 1628.
Toccate II (1627)
The last new keyboard print Frescobaldi brought out before leaving Rome for Florence was a second volume of toccatas, like its predecessor engraved by Nicolò Borbone. As Frescobaldi’s pupil Bartolomeo Grassi noted (fig. 8.17), this lavish production with its handsome title page, an engraved portrait of Frescobaldi, and the customary laudatory sonnet, formed with the first book a compendium for the keyboard player (fig. 8.17). Perhaps modeled on (or challenging) the keyboard collections issued by the Neapolitans Giovanni Maria Trabaci (1603, 1615) and Ascanio Mayone (1603, 1609), Toccate II contains music for organ (two pedal toccatas, two Elevation toccatas, hymns and Magnificats) as well as harpsichord. The collection ranges in genre from the toccata and canzona to lighter variation sets and dances, plus the traditional gesture of an intabulated Arcadelt madrigal: Ancidetemi pur, also set by Mayone in his 1603 Diversi capricci, and by Trabaci (for harp) in his second book of ricercars of 1615.
This splendid volume is dedicated in an address dated 15 January 1627 to Monsignor Luigi Gallo (ca. 1580-1657), Bishop of Ancona since 1622 and Nuncio to Savoy. Gallo was the nephew of Cardinal Antonio Maria Gallo (1553/4-1620), dean of the College of Cardinals and Protector of the Cappella Pontificia (often absent and substituted by Cardinal Del Monte, who finally succeeded him in 1620), who had accompanied Clement VIII to Ferrara in 1598. The Gallo family were counts of Osimo, near Luigi Gallo’s diocese of Ancona in the Papal States. Cardinal Gallo had been a patron of Ercole Pasquini and Cifra and protector of the Holy House of Loreto, where a fountain and a gate still bear his arms.
Luigi Gallo, Referendary of Both Signatures and regens cancellariæ apostolicæ, received the dedications of collections of music by G. F. Anerio (the important Motecta of 1609: Franchi 2006, 1609/8), Francesco Lombardi, Antonio Cifra (maestro at Loreto), Galeazzo Sabbatini (Madrigali concertati à 5, Venice: Vincenti, 1627), Nicolò Cherubini, and Oratio Tarditi (Musiche da Chiesa: motets a 2-5 vv., 2 vlns., Venice: Vincenti 1641: Azzopardi 2001, Pr. 146). Bonifazio Gratiani, in dedicating his Mottetti of 1652 to Luigi Gallo, recalled Cardinal Gallo’s protection of “all the virtuosi of the Roman Court” (“i virtuosi tutti della Romana Corte”) and paid tribute to his nephew’s “exquisite knowledge … of this delightful Science, with which he is accustomed sometimes to relieve his soul from worthier, and nobler studies” (“esquisita cognitione … di questa dilettevole Scienza, con la quale suole tal volta alleviar l’animo da più degni, e nobili studij”).
Alone of Frescobaldi’s dedicatees, Gallo was a practising keyboardist. Antimo Liberati praised the “sonorous fingers” (“sonore dita”) of this “most skillful keyboard Player” (“valorosissimo Sonator di tasto”) performing Antonio Cifra’s Ricercari of 1619, a collection closely modelled on Frescobaldi’s 1615 Recercari (see Ladewig 1978). Gallo had intabulated Cifra’s ricercars for keyboard, and in his rendition they were “most beautiful, and of wonderful sonority” (“vaghissimi, e di mirabile sonorità”).
In his dedication to the Toccate, Frescobaldi concurred in praising Gallo’s gifts. His service with the nuncio, perhaps as household musician or even as teacher, went back to the lifetime of Gallo’s uncle:
Since I have no longer been able to deny to all those who for a long time have been begging me to publish my present modern efforts; I did not wish to let them appear under any other protection, than that of Your Most Illustrious Lordship both for the long service that I have with you, from the time of the Most Illustrious Cardinal your Uncle: as also because you, in addition to your many other virtues, are so richly adorned with this [virtue] of playing the Harpsichord.
According to Frescobaldi, the contents of the volume represent a “new Manner” characterized by “the novelty of the artifice, with which they are ordered, and woven” and to which the qualities of Gallo’s playing are particularly suited: “grace, ease, variety of measure, and elegance” (“gratia, agevolezza, varietà di misura, e leggiadria”).
Liber secundus diversarum modulationum (Rome, 1627)
The year 1627 saw some twenty-two Roman music publications, dominated by G.B. Robletti’s issue of no less than six sacred collections by Paolo Agostini, unexpectedly appointed maestro of the Cappella Giulia the previous year and mysteriously dead two years later. Frescobaldi’s Liber secundus diversarum modulationum is his one surviving sacred collection, although its title indicates the existence of a previous volume now lost. It contains thirty-two small sacred concertos scored for from one to four voices and continuo. The publisher, Andrea Fei, was printer, active 1614-1648, to the great artistic patron Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, familiar from an outrageous bust by Bernini. (Again, the allegedly “inept” Frescobaldi appears at least on the fringe of an important Roman cultural milieu.) Out of Fei’s production of some three-hundred volumes only nineteen were dedicated to musical authors, but they included notabilities such as the Cappella Giulia’s former maestro Vincenzo Ugolini, Pietro Paolo Sabbatini (1628), and G. B. Doni (Morucci 2018, 111-12, Franchi 2006, 337-38).
The Liber secundus was dedicated in a letter dated 1 June 1627 to Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the late pope Paul V and Frescobaldi’s ultimate superior as Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica. The statement that the motets were “recently composed for performance in church and the use of piety” suggests that the volume was intended for performance by the Cappella Giulia at S. Peters.
The Latin dedication of the Liber secundus was ghost-written for Frescobaldi by the cultivated Lucchese Lelio Guidiccioni (1582-1643), secretary to Borghese until the cardinal’s death in 1633 and then secretary to Cardinal Antonio Barberini. Guidiccioni was a poet, an informed connoisseur of music, a noted art collector, and an early champion of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, whom he described as “formed by nature to give living forms to breathing marble.” As such, Guidiccioni was an ideator of the twenty-year-old Bernini’s first great project, the apparatus for the translation of the body of Paul V Borghese (1623), and wrote an account of the occasion.
Canzoni (1628) and manuscripts
Sometime in 1628 Frescobaldi published an important collection of thirty-five Canzoni for from one to four instruments and basso continuo, his only volume of instrumental ensemble music. An edition in part books (Rome: G.B. Robletti) was dedicated to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, apparently to seal Frescobaldi’s contract with him in the same manner as the dedication of Toccate I to the Duke of Mantua. A transcription for keyboard in open score, together with three additional works, was published in the same year by Girolamo’s pupil Bartolomeo Grassi (Rome: Paolo Masotti).
The titlepage of Grassi’s edition identifies him as “Organista in S. Maria in Acquirio di Roma,” the Orfanelli, Cardinal Antonio Barberini’s new titular church near Piazza Colonna (possesso 27 May 1628). In his postface Grassi claims “I …. profession myself to be the most obliged student, & servant that Sig. Girolamo Frescobaldi ever had” (“io, che professo di essere il più obligato scolare, & servitore che habbia mai havuto il Sig. Girolamo Frescobaldi”).
Apart from his name and ecclesiastical affiliation, Grassi’s identification is uncertain. He may have been the “Bartolomeo sonatore de gravecembali” whose son died in 1622, or the priest Bartolomeo di Girolamo Grassi of Lucca (d. 2 October 1667: Franchi 2006, 1628/13). Jeanneret 2009, 533, lists him as organist of Santa Maria in Trastevere, 07.1630-10.1631. Arnaldo Morelli discovered a Bartolomeo Grassi living with his wife Livia Albertini in 1648-49 beside S. Stefano del Cacco, near the Collegio Romano, an area thick with printers and booksellers (RASdV, S. Stefano del Cacco, Stati d’anime, 1648-49). The editor of the Canzoni is most likely the Lucchese Bartolomeo di Girolamo Grassi, since “Grassi” dedicated the Canzoni to Mons. Girolamo Bonvisi of Lucca (1607-77: cardinal 1657: dedicatee of Tullio Cima’s Salmi per il vespro: Rome, Masotti, 1636) and added the names of notable families of Lucca as titles to the canzonas (see chapter 16). A Libro primo di serenate by Bartolomeo Grassi set to texts of Pier Francesco Paoli, who contributed the dedicatory sonnet to Frescobaldi’s Toccate II, is preserved in the Cappella Giulia library, CG 132 V (titlepage missing: Llorens 1971, 211).
In the extensive epilogue to his edition Grassi stresses the fact that in scoring the canzonas he has aligned the parts carefully, unlike many contemporary prints in partitura. Grassi’s conclusion shows that by 1628 Frescobaldi’s music, especially the two books of toccatas, was considered fundamental for the keyboard player, as it was to remain for generations:
I therefore advise every student, that he provide himself with all the works of Signor Girolamo, beginning from the first book of Toccatas in Copper, & following the second now published with infinite expectation of all who profess this art, not being less worthy than the first, indeed fuller of diversity of works, as well for the Organ, as for the Harpsichord, & every keyboard player having these two books containing Toccatas, Galanteries, & responses necessary for all the needs of the Church, may deem himself content; but to get vivacity, & lively motives for imitations and for other passaggi let him in any fashion provide himself with the present work … let him also add the Capricci, & Ricercari of the same if he wishes seriousness of style.
These last collections were so popular, Grassi states, that it had been necessary to reprint them three times.
Grassi’s assertions about the popularity of Girolamo’s collections are confirmed by their publishing history between 1615 and 1628. The most complex is that of the first book of toccatas, issued in three versions and at least five printings in those years. For the 1628 version a new title page was engraved, the inapplicable dedication to Ferdinando Gonzaga of the 1615 and 1616 versions was deleted, and the portrait of Girolamo first published in the second book of toccatas of 1627 was added.
Grassi’s conclusion raises an issue that still exercises Frescobaldi scholars:
Signor Girolamo has made an infinite number of other volumes, & constantly goes on shaping new ones, because he is as eminent in composition as in improvisation, as Rome constantly sees, he does marvelous things; but the effort, & expense of Printing does not permit them to appear.
That such works survived Girolamo’s death is attested by Giovanni Pietro Bellori’s Nota delli musei Librerie, Galerie, et ornamenti di statue e pitture ne’ Palazzi, nelle Case, e ne’ Giardini di Roma (Note of the museums, Libraries, Galleries, and ornaments of statuary and paintings in the Palaces, the Houses, and the Gardens of Rome) of 1664, referring to Frescobaldi’s son Domenico:
Gio. Domenico Frescobaldi Beneficiato of S. Pietro. A collection of rare drawings by excellent artists, pictures, & and compositions in Harpsichord tablature written by hand, not printed, by the famous Girolamo Frescobaldi his Father.
Recent scholarship has shown the question to be much more complex than the mere existence of manuscript volumes ready for publication (see Catalogue I. B.).
“A man so long drawn-out in his affairs …”
The genesis of one of Frescobaldi’s publications from this period—perhaps the 1624 Capricci or the combined Capricci-Recercari of 1626—can be traced from a series of letters written between August 1621 and July 1625 by Francesco Toscani in Rome to his wife Alessandra’s brother the young musician Francesco Nigetti (1603-81) in Florence. They give a unique portrait of Frescobaldi “from life.” At the age of ten Nigetti had been admitted to the Florentine Compagnia dell’Arcangelo Raffaello, where he probably studied music with Marco da Gagliano. During the years of his first interest in Frescobaldi, 1621-28, Nigetti was following his father’s profession of water-vendor (acquaiolo); in 1630-56 he became cashier to the dyers of the Arte della Lana, the Florentine wool-guild.
As early as 26 May 1618 Nigetti had written Toscani about acquiring a copy of Frescobaldi’s Recercari. Three years later in a lost letter Nigetti again asked Toscani to send Frescobaldi’s latest productions. On 4 August 1621 Toscani answered: “Again I have spoken to Frescobaldi to look over his new book [.] He told me that he has still not put it in order but when he will have it printed I will not fail to oblige you …” 13 November 1621: “… to my brother-in-law [:] I keep in mind the book of Frescobaldi [;] we are still where we were but as soon as he has it printed I will certainly not be the last to have it …” 18 March 1623: “As to Girolamo we are still where we were and further I shall spend a bit on him since in the end one must pay.” 21 October 1623:
As to Frescobaldi, he has printed nothing new except four madrigals to sing with the organ, without playing, which he says is not a good thing to send forth, but all the same he is putting in order the book to send to Venice to print, since these printers here maintain a rigorous price. Enough, when there will be something new I will inform you.
(The only volumes issued in Venice at this period were Vincenti’s two printings of the combined Recercari-Capricci volume, dated 1626 and 1628.)
Toscani states on 24 February 1624: “I have spoken again this week to Frescobaldi on account of the book. He says that within ten days it will be in order, and I will send it to you.” In the event the volume was at the last folio in April and still incomplete in mid-May of 1624.
2 March 1624:
As to the book of Frescobaldi, it is still not finished being printed [in margin: that is it is not finished], and I asked him the price of the book: he said to me: that we shall be agreed. As to friendship, I have no knowledge of who can dispose of it. Enough, he told me that we shall be agreed. I will see to it that as soon as it is in order I will send it to you.
16 March 1624: “The book is still not finished being printed and it displeases me to the heart that it is not finished, it really upsets me. As soon as it is finished, I will send it to you so that you can use it for your needs etc.” 27 April 1624: “I forgot to tell you that the book is still not finished, but is at the last folio, and Frescobaldi told me that for all this coming week the printing will be finished, and I will send it to you immediately.” 11 May 1624: “The book is still not finished printing, and as soon as it is finished I will send it to you.”
1 June 1624:
One still cannot have the book of Frescobaldi owing to the impediment that you already know. I have not learned the price from him but from what one who trades with him has told me it will cost about two scudi. I don’t remember how much the one that you have cost but it matters little; as soon as I know that he has given one to someone I will know the expense and will take it myself.
Frescobaldi delayed even after the work was printed. A year later, 14 June 1625, Toscani wrote: “As to the book of Frescobaldi, I went to see him and he told me that he has finished it, but at present he cannot give it to me. He told me to go one day this week and he will oblige me, and next week I will consign it to the courier or to some friend who is going there, and you will save the carriage fee.”
With considerable effort, Toscani finally obtained the volume. He wrote on 28 June 1625:
I promised to send you the book of Frescobaldi, but it was not possible, since he is a man so long drawn-out in his affairs as you could not believe, and this week I have been there every day. Finally he gave it to me. I had to stay at his house a good two hours to wait while he corrected it, as you will see, because the printer made some mistakes, but it is corrected. Therefore go to the present courier, whose name I don’t know, and he will consign it to you wrapped and written on it “Give to the Magnifico Signor Francesco Nigetti free of charge.” And be patient if you have been too uneasy.
The volume arrived safely in Florence and was so successful that Toscani purchased further copies for Nigetti’s friends: 19 July 1625:
As to the book of Frescobaldi, we are pleased that it is to your taste. As to the price, it matters little and I have been to take one or two of them and send them to you, so that you may oblige some friends of yours. But they are not corrected: he told me that he will revise them and one day this week he will give them to me, and I will send them to Your Lordship.
The history of this volume and Grassi’s account of Frescobaldi’s career show Girolamo’s reputation as a keyboard virtuoso, improviser, and composer at the height of his powers. His post at St. Peter’s and his additional income, together with powerful patronage, allowed him to publish between 1615 and 1628 works in every genre except opera, some of them splendid and expensive productions like the two books of toccatas. Grassi and Gallo testify to the ability and admiration of his students and patrons, and the frequent reprinting of his work is evidence of his widening influence. Toscani’s letters show that already by 1625 Frescobaldi’s works were being disseminated in Florence. Girolamo was not yet in the service of the Barberini family, the ultimate accolade for a Roman artist, and was still receptive to outside offers from a court where his work was known and esteemed.