… I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself …
Robert Frost, “The Wood-Pile”

Faust erblindet. Die Nacht Scheint tiefer tief hereinzudringen, / Allein im Innern leuchtet helles Licht: / Was ich gedacht, ich eil es zu vollbringen ….
J. W. von Goethe, Faust, II


Richard Krautheimer recalled his last meeting with his fellow art historian Adolf Goldschmidt. “As a young man,” said Goldschmidt, “let’s say at thirty, I was convinced that I knew Medieval art. Then, toward fifty, this claim seemed exaggerated to me; but German and French sculpture of the Duecento and the Trecento, that at least was familiar to me. Now, having passed seventy, all that I seem to know is the sculpture of Lower Saxony between 1230 and 1250.” In the same spirit (and at more or less the same age) I offer this revised and expanded study of Girolamo Frescobaldi, whose original was published more than thirty years ago.

To paraphrase Manfred Bukofzer, “The first extended study of Girolamo Frescobaldi in English and the first scholarly biography in any language needs no apology.” But after more than three decades of continuing research and meditation by myself and many others such a study is certainly ripe for an update. Its new subtitle, “An Extended Biography,” indicates a change of focus: as my friend the late Roberto Pagano observed, “The enemy of the book you’re rewriting is the book you wrote.” In the earlier work I aimed for conciseness and synthesis. More than three decades of continuing immersion in seventeenth-century Italy, embodied in several succeeding books, have led me to attempt a wider picture of the milieu in which Frescobaldi lived and worked. This includes digressions into such subjects as seventeenth-century Italian marriage customs, music printing and publishing, city planning, domestic architecture and plumbing, and the horrors of the plague: it is also necessarily a compendium of the work of many other scholars. The result may be criticized as a galimatias. In any case it is most charitably approached as a multifocused survey rather than a linear narrative.

The differences between this study and its original are of various sorts. The simplest is the discovery of new factual information. The most important of this material is contained in the two ceremonial diaries of Andrea Amici (d. 1642), a cleric of St. Peter’s, from which we can now reconstruct Frescobaldi’s activities as organist of the Cappella Giulia almost day by day. Other new material has sometimes led to the revision of conventional wisdom. For example, Claudio Annibaldi convincingly depicted the Devolution of Ferrara and the visit of Clement VIII in 1597-98 not as an effort on the part of the Aldobrandini papacy to prolong the glories of Ferrarese Renaissance civilization but to destroy them and to exterminate along with them the very memory of the house of Este.

In some cases I have simply been mistaken, either in small fact or larger interpretation, and I have gratefully accepted correction by more recent scholarship. A case in point is my original view of Florence in Chapter 9 as a declining Renaissance political and artistic culture rather than the capital of an effective emerging modern state, and a negative—not to say unthinkingly misogynous—view of the regency of Christina of Lorraine and Archduchess Maria Maddalena for their respective grandson and son, Ferdinando II de’ Medici. For this, the work of Kelley Harness and Suzanne C. Cusick has provided the necessary corrective. Where my own revised understanding of some of these questions has come as a gradual process, I have sometimes presented it as such rather than as a fait accompli. The expanded chapter on instruments draws on the fundamental research of builder-scholars such as Denzil Wraight, and the revision of the chapter on performance reflects the great advances in early music performance in the last three decades. As Old Mother Reily observed, “Time marches on, not sideways.” In general, I find that I am inclined not to paint with so broad a brush as three decades ago.

The most important new tool for Frescobaldi studies is Alexander Silbiger’s Frescobaldi Thematic Catalogue Online (FTCO, This provides a consistent numbering of Frescobaldi’s entire output and related works based on the Opere Complete, as well as manuscripts (incipits, volume number, place in volume, additional identifying sigla), full source references, and is updated regularly (further on FTCO see the introduction to the Manuscripts section of the present Catalogue).

There is a good deal of quotation of Italian materials in the present work, in my own translations except where noted, and the originals are cited at what some may consider excessive length. I have tried to include all of Frescobaldi’s written remains both in their original and in translation (see Appendix II), encouraged by Iris Origo’s dictum: “When a biographer can record what a man actually said, he awakens a degree of conviction denied to any other form of narrative.” Owing both to the unavailability of much of this material in out-of-the-way and out-of-print publications and to the variability of standards of transcription and translation, both in terms of Italian grammar and historical context, I feel that readers should have available all the material necessary to check the accuracy of my Englishing.

The quotation of archival materials is also sometimes disproportionately extended, most notably in the citations of the second, unpublished, volume of the Vatican ceremonial diary in Chapter 8 and in the discussion of the Oratorio del Crocifisso in Chapter 10. Much of the materials cited there from the Archivio Capitolare di San Pietro and the Archivio Segreto Vaticano of the Biblioteca Vaticana have not yet appeared in print, and it seemed appropriate to quote them at greater length than if they were otherwise available. I have included extensive visual materials in the hope of providing a richer context of places and persons, even of some peripheral ones.

I wonder if any previously neglected Western composer of importance has been so fortunate as Frescobaldi in the burgeoning quantity and quality of scholarship of his work, beginning with the 1983 quadricentenary celebrations in Ferrara and those organized by Alexander Silbiger in Madison, Wisconsin. A simple listing of names will hardly begin to acknowledge the debts that I owe to my fellow-scholars: Claudio Annibaldi, Patrizio Barbieri, Lorenzo Bianconi, Walter Burr, Franca Camiz, Adriano Cavicchi, Suzanne C. Cusick, Étienne Darbellay, Elio Durante and Anna Martellotti, Dinko Fabris, Saverio Franchi, Kelley Harness, John W. Hill, Christine Jeanneret, Robert Judd, Warren Kirkendale, Martin Kirnbauer, Marilyn Aronberg Lavin, Oscar Mischiati, James Moore, Anthony Newcomb, Noel O’Regan, Susan Parisi, Louise Rice, Giancarlo Rostirolla, Alexander Silbiger, Christopher Stembridge, Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, Denzil Wraight.

Other friends have provided assistance from their profound knowledge of things Roman, including Maria Giulia Barberini, Irving Lavin, Georgina Masson, and Patricia Waddy. To Msgr. Charles Burns of the Archivio Segreto Vaticano in Rome and to Dott. Gino Corti in Florence I owe thanks for assistance with archival problems. Various contributions were made to earlier versions of the text by Donna Livia Aldobrandini Pediconi, Howard Brown, Don Frank and Donna Orietta Doria-Pamphilj Pogson, Marchese Ferdinando de’ Frescobaldi, Gregory Harrold, John Hollander, Professor Gerhard Kroll of the Musikwißenschaftliches Institut in Salzburg, Sibyl Marcuse, James Moore, Isabel and Laurance Roberts, and Eugene Walter. Princess Margherita Rospigliosi formed a living link with the Roman past. For more recent assistance I wish to thank Dott.ssa Mirna Bonazza of the Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, Ferrara; Dr. Kathryn Bosi, former Merrill Music Librarian, Villa I Tatti; Dott. Luigi Cacciaglia; Anne Marie Dragosits, scholar and performer of Froberger; Bruce Gustafson; Prof. Martin Kirnbauer, Dott.ssa Rita Romanelli of the Archivio Niccolini di Camegliano di Firenze; Dott. Riccardo Spinelli; and Mons. Dario Rizza and Dott. Vincenzo M. Piacquadio of the Archivio Capitolare di San Pietro. Meg Montgomery performed the miracle of transforming an unruly revision into a readable website.

No less appreciated is the support of other friends: James Bagwell, Michael and Cornelia Bessie, Irma Brandeis, Elisabeth Mann Borgese, Leon Botstein, Evelyn and Margaret Hutchinson, James Merrill, Carl Pritzkat and Anthony Travostino, James and Mary Ottaway, Roberto and Maria Carla Pagano, Theo Stavropoulos, Emma Lewis Thomas, William Weaver, Robert Winter, and the members of the Lamon family. For the home-keeping scholar two things are indispensible: access to the internet and a good bookseller. For the latter, I am most fortunate in Michael Shamansky, Italian bibliophile extraordinary.

Much of my work in Europe was facilitated by grants for research and other assistance from the University of California at Los Angeles, the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and Bard College, as well as by fellowships and hospitality from the American Academy in Rome and the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti (with special thanks to its then acting director, my distant cousin Mason Hammond).

In Rome, among the institutions that have contributed to this and previous versions of Girolamo Frescobaldi are the library of the American Academy in Rome, the musicological section of the German Historical Institute and its former director, Dr. Friedrich Lippmann; the Archivio Storico del Vicariato di Roma at San Giovanni in Laterano; the Archivio, Archivio Capitolare di San Pietro, and Archivio Segreto of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vatican; the Archivio di Stato di Roma; the Archivio Aldobrandini; the Archivio Doria Pamphilj; the Biblioteca Casanatense; the Biblioteca del Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia; and the Biblioteca Corsiniana. Much of the musical material was examined in the holdings of the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale (now the Museo internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica) in Bologna. In Ferrara, I have consulted the Archivio di Stato and the Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea; in Florence, the Archivio di Stato, the Archivio Niccolini di Camegliano di Firenze, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, the archives of Santa Croce and San Lorenzo, and the library of the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti, especially the Morrill Music Library; in Modena, the Archivio di Stato and the Archivio Segreto Estense; in Reggio Emilia, the Biblioteca Municipale; and in Venice, the Archivio di Stato, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, and the library of the Fondazione Cini.

Outside Italy, material has been furnished by the Bibliothèque Royale of Brussels; the British Library in London; the Santini Collection now in the Priesterseminar in Münster; the Bibliothèque du Conservatoire, Bibliothèque Nationale, and Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; and the Minoritenkonvent and Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. In the United States I have consulted the New York Public Library and the Mary Flagler Cary Collection in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City; the Library of Congress; the Newberry Library in Chicago; the Research and Music Libraries of the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles; and the Libraries of Yale University and the Yale School of Music. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the Vassar College Music Library and to the Bard College Library, in particular to Jane Dougal.

Illustrations appear here by kind permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana; the Soprintendenza Beni Artistici e Storici of Florence; Prince Aldobrandini; the Staatliche Museen Preussicher Kulturbesitz in Berlin; the Bibliothèque Nationale and Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm; the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, the Special Collections of the Research Library of the University Library of the University of California, Los Angeles; the Courthold Institute; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library; and the Smithsonian Institution. Every attempt has been made to trace the holders of copyright.

This reworked study could not but retain its original dedication. But I want to acknowledge also the thirty years of friendship, encouragement, and collaboration of Roberto Pagano, only one of whose benefactions to me was the translation of an earlier version of this text into Italian.

Frederick Hammond
Bard College, Annandale-on Hudson, New York