art, baroque, Baroque, Baroque music, Guitar, Lutherie, music, Organology, painting, Stradivari, Stradivaria, Uncategorized

Arco atelier opens with a unique blend of art and rare instruments. Spoleto comes alive with this unique display inside an exclusive artist space.

Tra le Corde, the exhibition of rare instruments from the collection of Maestro Emiliano Marinucci, marks the true opening of Arco, the art gallery and luthier studio under the magnificent Arch of Druso in Spoleto.

The idea is to relive the idea of the relation of the space and the sound of these unique works of art in a historic location, creating a meeting point that will kick start a series of events in the fall. Instruments such as the Mattias Albani from 1710, the Baltasar Calvo guitar from 1885, all the flamenco masterpieces by Carrillo Cantos, Estruch, Conde, and their direct ancestors, all the Stradivari based baroque guitar models handmade by Marinucci, who has discovered and identified an original last year.

The exhibit was a major success, scoring more than 1000 visitors, demonstrating the capacity of involvement that such a situation can spring.

this is the first post lockdown event that will generate the lutherie courses starting from October and the concert series in all Umbria starting also in October. Stay tuned for more success

Baroque, Baroque guitar, Baroque music, Guitar, History, italy, Lutherie, music, Organology, Stradivari, Stradivaria, Uncategorized

A newly rediscovered Stradivari guitar at the Museo Nazionale degli strumenti musicali in Rome. Expert Emiliano Marinucci speaks about it after three year of research, confirmed by Lorenzo Frignani.



The rosette of the MR 1622 revealing the strong realtion with the Hill and Canobio Pagliari ones.

When one hears the name of Antonio Stradivari, possibly the greatest luthier of all times, the mind goes immediately to his wonderful bowed instruments. But, on the other hand, the reality of the master’s production was quite various.
Judging from the material we have today the quantity of different instruments that came out of his workshop was quite different. We will start to define this and what we can understand of his specific take on the guitar, to begin an identification process of an instrument that is in the public collection of the Museo nazionale degli strumenti musicali in Roma: the guitar catalogued as Mr 1622.
The information we get from what remains of his workshop is crucial.
All of these items were sold by his son Paolo to Count Cozio di Salabue, then passed to his heirs, the Della Valle family, from whom the luthier Giuseppe Fiorini brought them in 1920. He decided to donate them to the city of Cremona, that already had other material from Bergonzi and Ceruti’s workshop, obtained in 1893 with the Cerani donation. They were exhibited during the Stradivari celebrations of 1937 and gave later birth to the Museo Stradivariano that evolved in actual Museo del Violino. This is an incredible insight in a workshop of the time, revealing the fact that Stradivari produced everything, from the single parts (pegs, rosettes, tailpieces, cases) to the whole instruments. There are templates, sketches, paper silhouettes, notes on stringing, molds. But, and this is the interesting part, not only of violins, violas and cellos, but of a lot of plucked instruments.
Stradivari, especially at the beginning of his career, and up to the 1690s, must have had a vast clientele regarding these. His interest spans from the mandolin to the lute “alla francese”, from the harp to the guitar. The characteristics of his projects and what we have left of originals derived from these projects tells the degree of experimentation and originality that Stradivari wanted to put in every instrument.
These specific characteristics that define his signature and ideas, allowing us to make them a trademark of his work.
Regarding the guitar, that is the main focus of our interest here, we consider today to have five original guitars by the master: The Hill ( Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), the Giustiniani (Milan, private collection), the Vuillaume (Paris Musée de la Musique), the Rawlins (National Music Museum, USA) and the Sabionari ( on loan to the Museo del violino in Cremona). Also we can add the Canobio – Pagliari (Roma, private collection), which is the work of another maker, restored and modified by Stradivari, as the label inside ereads “ da me rivisto e corretto, Antonio Stradivari”, analog to what written inside a 1701 violin and another of 1719 where he also indicates “Fatto il coperchio” (Hill, 1901) and a headstock and part of neck that was donated to the Museo del Violino by Beare .
The hard part when evaluating the autograph instruments is understanding the quantity of original parts left in the instrument itself. This due to restorations but, also, from the transformation of the instruments in six string romantic guitars at the turn of the century, fate that struck the Sabionari, modified by Marconcini and, partially, by the Giustiniani, whose neck was cut while the head remained untouched. This to adapt them to the 65cm string length of the romantic style guitar.
The instrument that we will examine, kept in the Museo Nazionale degli strumenti musicali in Roma with inventory number 2342 was part of the famous tenor Evan Gorga’s collection, acquired by the Italian state in 1950 to pay his tax debts. Its characteristics, flat back, wood choice, long string length, decoration, size and design point at the master’s hand.
The guitar in the baroque period had distinctive features, from which Stradivari differed in some key elements, making his own model one of a kind. The Spanish guitar (chitarra alla Spagnola) was derived, in shape, directly from the vihuela, from which it inherited the shape of an eight and string length of 54 – 60 cm, plus the fluted curved back. The vihuela had a playing style and tuning close to the one of the lute. The introduction of the guitar created a completely new style. The rasgueado playing was part of this instrument’s new language, being referred to as a “cow bell sound” by Covarrubias Orosco, in 1606.
The first example we can identify as a Spanish guitar is the Belchior Dias of 1581, in the Royal College of Music, being still a transition instrument, possibly even a reworked vihuela. Its plate thickness reaches 4mm, its body is only 366mm long and the string length is 555mm.
Juan Carlos Amat, in his treatise of 1586, dedicated to the instrument, marks the name Spanish, as it is called in Italy also, to mark the difference from the Italian guitar also called chitarrino, that was an instrument of the lute family. Sanz also states this in his preface to the “Istruccion de musica sobre la guitarra espanola” where he defines the origin “Italians, French and other nations qualify the guitar as Spanish; the reason lies in the fact that in ancient times it had no more than four strings, and in Madrid the master Espinel, Spanish, added the fifth, which is why his originated from here refinement. The French, Italians and other nations, imitating us, also added to their guitars the fifth string, and that’s why they call it Spanish Guitar”.
The tuning had some differences, the most common being like the modern guitar but with five courses, so: ee, bb, GG, dd, aa. The e, like indicated in Amat, the canto, was single, the others double. There was a very fast popularity of the instrument, due to the massive presence of the Spanish domination in Italy, and also because it suited very well the new monodic style of music. In Italy a new notation system was born, the Alfabeto, first featured in Girolamo Montesardo’s Nuova inventione d’intavolatura per sonare li balletti sopra la Chitarra Spagniuola of 1606, that uses this stenographic notation where the letters refer to a chord chart.
The construction of guitars became popular between the luthiers and violin makers didn’t disdain at all this instrument. Masters like David Tecchler or Pietro Guarneri de Mantua define themselves as “Chitarraio” and, in the latter’s studio after his death, were found many examples of this instrument. The construction techniques were different from region to region, the Spanish ones had a distinctive way of inserting the neck, neck and side inserts in one piece (the so called Spanish foot).
Makers like Sellas and Voboam used a long nail as an internal seam for the neck in the top block, that reached the sides, allowing a large gluing surface for them. The majority of guitars, at the time, had curved backs, made of staves, also to create color differences, often fluted. The Stradivari guitars had all flat backs.
This is part of a stylistic idea that comes from the venetian school, with examples in the Cité de la Musique in Paris, the anonymous venetian early 600s and the Coch, of 1660s. Feature that we find also in the Gerolamo de Mensis guitar, also in the same Museum in Roma, of Brescian origin, 1660s. The relation with the venetian culture was direct, Cremona was Venetian before Spanish, Brescia was in its territory. Also the melting pot of makers from northern Europe in venetian territory was very large, especially for the plucked instruments, names like Sellas, Tieffenbrucker and Venere testify their excellence. The flat back guitar is also present in many paintings of Baschenis, from the same geographic area.
Stradivari’s guitar stand out as unique, both in looks and in ideal. They were all made in a distinct moment of his career, around the 1680s-1700s: Giustiniani 1681, Canobio Pagliari restoration 1681, Sabionari 1679, Hill 1691, Rawlins 1700. It’s a very experimental time from the maker, when he develops his long pattern violins, all the mandolins, the harp and more. He develops specific ideas and experiments new sound ideals. After the year 1700 he will dedicate himself mostly to bowed instruments.
Their building technique comes directly from the violin one. Stradivari used internal molds and built the instrument around them, testified also by the signs left on the upper sides where two wooden points were used to block them.

Three shapes are in Paris, one in Cremona, being modified to build a cornerless viola d’amore (also an instrument with flat back). Also, the woods were the same as bowed instruments: spruce for the top and maple for the back and sides, and no tropical woods were used. Stradivari’s purfling was pear wood, as the rosette of the Hill guitar is. The bridge was probably with drilled holes, like the lute and mandora ones, idea we can get from the designs we have left. The Hill triangular hole one is possibly not original (Pollens).
The bracing was very violin like in its shapes, and the instrument was built with a strong resonance concept. The bracing consisted in only two bars on the front, leaving the back and the curves of the case free to vibrate. This also working on the thickness of the wood, that is thinner than the other contemporary models. This creates an extremely light and vibrant body. Also, the choice of not over decorating the instrument is atypical, and it has possibly the root in this idea of the instrument as a vibrating whole. A master inlayer and decorator as Stradivari surely left these instruments so simple for a reason.
The design of the curves is extremely geometric and based on the coincidence of circles that create the outline. A tendency to become classic in the Italian school.
The much-debated long scale of the Stradivari instruments derives possibly from the fact that, as every instrument at the time, it had different sizes and related tunings. So, the 741mm string length of the Hill is compatible with the major guitar described both in Giovanni Ambrosio Colonna in 1620 and Foscarini in 1629:
” Rule for stringing the guitar in order to play in concert
First the largest guitar is tuned to any note you wish, and then the medium guitar one
note higher, that is to say the fifth string of the large guitar makes a unison with the
third string of the medium guitar. The fourth string of the little guitar has to make a
unison with the third string of the medium guitar and thus it will be tuned a 4th higher”
So, if the regular middle one was tuned in E, the bigger one had a D as canto string. Together they sound as a G major chord.
Later Corbetta will extend this to a guitar in B and Antonio Carbonchi, in his collection, le “Dodici chitarre spostate” will suggest 4 groups of guitar tunings that work with the three different sized instruments , that can play its Alfabeto notation creating a concert together.
The stringing was very important at the time, here again Stradivari gives us a testimony of his ideas. Infact there are many ways to string the instrument, the Montesardo tuning scheme of 1606 in Italy shows the last two courses in octave with a lower bourdon string, while Sanz in Spain used to string them in unison, the so called re entrant tuning, that allowed his “campanelas” effect. Stradivari, in one of his templates, the guitar stringing pattern MS 375, gives hints on the thickness of the strings in comparison to the violin ones and states that the forth and fifth course octave strings, the higher ones, are mounted on the “outside” position, so the thumb would make contact first.
So, the Stradivari guitars responded completely to the spirit of their times. In their uniqueness they were the perfect answer to this new repertoire. The Identification process started when I was making two parallel researches: one on the Ruggeri instruments for my book and the other on the Stradivari guitars that was finalized to the design of my Stradivaria baroque guitar. During this research I had done a lot of studies and seen many original baroque guitars in the major museums like The Met and the MIM or the Museu de la Musica of Lisbon thanks to the kindness of the curators. So, I had a large amount of information straight from originals of what the main
differences between the Stradivari models and the other guitars of the time. In my career as a maker and as trustee for the Thys De Castella collection and other privates I had the opportunity of viewing and studying many instruments by Stradivari and the Cremonese school, their details in wood choice and finishing, the construction technique, were much familiar.
The original templates and shapes that were at the Museo del violino in Cremona were being made ready for publication at the time, so I asked for their images and sizes for study reasons, while I was researching in the Archivio di Stato of Cremona for traces of the Sabionari guitar, that had been submitted to the committee of the Stradivari celebrations and was exhibited there for six months . I was looking for ideas, a possible report and also of pictures of it before it was restored or reopened, that happened in 1948, when Segovia autographed it inside.
I had the opportunity in May 2016 of seeing it live at Maestro Lorenzo Frignani’s laboratory in Modena, since it was going to be played by Lislevand in a public concert. All of the data I was collecting was a large amount of comparisons that would d help me build my own model, based on Stradivari’s ideas and principles, that made his guitars totally peculiar. So, my networking got me a technical drawing of the Hill from the Ashmolean museum, that helped get precise information on his way of designing curves and acoustics. Also, I had finally a precise design of the rosette, that helped me develop my version for Stradivaria. Redesigning that rosette so many times on pear and amaranth wood was a very hard task but it helped me memorize that design, curves and elements perfectly. Little did I know what this was going to take me.
So, in June 2016 I was in the Museo in Roma, to inspect a viola da gamba with a Ruggeri label and I passed in front of the Mr 1622. The rosette, its design, they struck me. I was astonished, immediately, and asked the museum staff if I could have the possibility to have a quick look at it outside the display on the viewing table. I took a few pictures with my phone, I could see these distinct curves and shoulder design, the decoration, the hand of the master was here. Slowly and surely, I tried also to hear the position of the bracing and it seemed that only two bars were there.
The decoration, the rosette, the wood quality and the style, it was all there. The direction of the museum, at the time Sandra Suatoni, was incredibly supportive, I told them that there was a strong possibility that the guitar was a work of Stradivari so we booked another appointment.
There, finally, I could take precise measurements of every element, its outline and take a close look at the reconstruction. Slowly the picture was coming together. Since the Museum was doing RXs of the Barberini harp they had done a quick one of the instrument, and it showed its inner two bars.
So, for months after this I looked for any report on the construction and measurements of the Stradivari guitars, then Finally, after another trip to Cremona, I could see the different guitar molds in the Museo del violino. But more than them, the models for the outlines in paper, the details of elements like the head sides, ideas for bridges and more. So I created a full comparative outline and measurement table of the different guitars and also of the molds and templates.
According to the proportion studies I could actually see that there wasn’t any of the existing Stradivari guitars that corresponded to an existing mold. But, incredibly, the measurements of the MR 1622 matched the paper template 1/1 scale for guitar that was in Cremona.
This time I submitted my conclusions and elements in a report that I showed to Frignani. He helped me point out the correctness of my method and conclusions. After seeing the instrument, in 2017, he was totally convinced there was material for a strong relation with Stradivari. He also confirmed the connections with some aspects of the Canobio Pagliari of which he had some documentation made in his studio.
The guitar Mr 1622 has incredibly many contact points with the autograph guitars. The part that is older and original surely is the front, in spruce, with a rosette that is clearly the same as the Hill one and also extremely adherent to the one of the Canobio Pagliari, not only for the design, made of a spiral and pique element decoration but also from the fruit wood from which it’s made. It will be of help also if we think that, in Stradivari’s time, the rosettes were made of parchment, in levels, not of wood. These in wood were a unique signature of this maker.
The instrument has been heavily restored and reconstructed, including the neck, sides and back. But its shapes, proportions and decorations bring us back to the style and work of Stradivari.
The rosette, infact, is surrounded by a decoration of small diamond shapes in bone on a black ground. A decoration extremely similar to the one of the Canobio Pagliari, executed with the powdered ebony made in paste, not inlaying squares of wood, this method to avoid the high cost of this wood. Also, the pique decoration that is on the lower and upper part of the front is in tainted wood. This sign is supposed to be a bringer of luck and is present also on the Sabionari, Hill, and Rawlins.
The use of local woods was widely preferred by Stradivari, possibly including the bog oak from Cremona, now extinct, with his dark color that could be of use in substituting ebony at the time. So as the tainted pear mostly found in his purfling.
Purfling that here plays on the alternation of black and white, just like in the Sabionari.
The adherence to the Stradivari models is given by the correspondence between the measurements of the front of this guitar and one particular template that is in the Museo del violin, the MS 374e. It’s a template for a guitar, with also the diameter of the sound hole and the position of the bridge in a 1:1 scale. This detail is particularly important, since none of the autograph guitars match any of the molds or existing templates.

There are also some very interesting details of the restoration of which we don’t know the author or time of intervention. Infact the original part of the guitar is limited to the front with the neck insert and the rosette.
Possibly the restorer had a sense and idea of what he was in front of. Using the proportions and measurements of the body Pollens calculated that the string length corresponding to the shape and size of the body of the MS 374e would have been 770mm. A measurement exactly precise here.
Also, the reconstructed head, apart from the bone decorations, has a design that matches the ones present in the templates in the MDV MS 376-381 (wooden models for the head profiles).
The bracing, as revealed by the X ray examination, is with two bars, leaving the whole resonating body.
So, this instrument has many connections with the master’s ideas and designs, being a totally resonant instrument with distinctive proportions, decorations and flat back. The instrument brings us back to this particular moment of experimentation in the luthier’s career, when the road to the golden period was still not clear and his desire to try new solutions and expand the workshop’s interest were alive in these models.
Models that responded to the society’s thirst for the Chitarra spagniuola and its experimental repertoire that spread through Europe, but with a distinct mark of the maker’s genius.
Hoping that further and deeper research confirm this attribution that would allow us to consider the Roma guitar as a sixth sister of Stradivari’s output in the guitar field, we propose this journey through the building details to focus on the contribution of the Italian style of guitar making.
A route that lead to the astounding results of Fabricatore, Guadagnini, Vinaccia, and of which Stradivari is a landmark.
E. Marinucci Roma july 2019

All rights reserved. 

Unathorized reproduction prohibited.

Baroque, Baroque music, music, Uncategorized

The Brandenburg concertos, six stories

Emiliano Marinucci reads Bach’s famous work in the light of the rethoric authors of the baroque era.

This text was commissioned to me by Riccardo Minasi for the performance of the Brandenburg concertos conducted by him on the 7th of march in Zurich with La Scintilla.

I started from Pickett’s analisys and explored all my references, in music, geometry and rhetorics to paint the image taht would lead, as a Virgilius into the depths of these works.

Six concerts avec plusieurs instruments, this is the way a manuscript begins, a French inscription for a German court. In a dedicated French speech Bach starts telling about his encounter with the Margrave, during a mission in Berlin to collect a Mietke harpsichord for Cothen, where he was employed. Bach decides on his own to impress the man with this gift, a full score, not parts, of a probably never commissioned concertos.
Never commissioned and probably never played by the Brandenburg orchestra, nor probably ever paid. It was a gift out of hope, the hope for a better future that didn’t arrive. But still great.
It displayed Bach’s figure as a man, a composer, a man of its moment.
The idea here, rendered extensively by the light of Luther’s writings, is of the third genre of music: after musica pratica and musica teorica, there it was, musica poetica. The term musica poetica was first coined by the Lutheran musician/teacher Nicolaus Listenius in 1533 to distinguish it from musica theorica (the study of music as a mathematical science) and musica practica (applied theory dealing with aspects of performance. terminologies from the discipline of classical rhetoric, and treated a musical composition as a work of oration, with an aesthetic aim of producing a work that could instruct, move and delight (docere, movere, delectare) the auditorium.
A term that united the ensemble of the study of rethorics typical of somebody like Bach, linked in his life to the study of the great oratori dell’epoca Latina, allo studio garmmatico. A tendency to be represented in his later works appropriating the shapes of the ars oratoria in his compositions. The couping between Quintiliano’s forms of expression and speech is equaled in the Art of the fugue and the Musical offering.
So, Bach, a distinguished composer to become akso a latin teacher later in the Thomaschule exposes his oration, his panegirico, telling some stories, The stories behind what he wants of the price to be seen.
In an orthodox Lutheran way, but also a classical humanistic one. A view odf the world, of a couert that has its roots in mythology, a mythology the justifies the common order of royalty, and expresses its being a continuous world that justifies it.
The margrave becomes: emperor, sheperd, musician, poet… the instruments are actors.
The play is set: six theatre pieces with many characters., six concertos with many instruments.

Concert n. 1
The concert starts, the horns blow their definite sound starting the triumph of Cesar. In this case t ceremony, the hunt of this Highness, Ludwig. Look at him: a military, son of the sergeant king of Brandenburg, sensible to music. Righteous, stiff, yet sentimental..
The turning curves in the parts of the horns evoke the tube, of roman tradition, decisive in the ceremony of thunder for Jupiter that accompanies the triumphal march of the emperor, along the via sacra, towards the Capitol hill. And, at the same time a savage hunt through the plains and beaches of Brandenburg. Lights trough trees and columns.
Characters in this theatre are the group of oboes, the opposition and then, in a moment, a short, subtle instrument, a soloist, above all this great blocks of sound, the people and parts of the procession cheering the emperor. A violin, a bizarre one, a piccolo, tuned a third higher, showing off his voice, never trembling unique. A part unplayable on any other instrument, a close love, an identification.
He is Nero, superimposing on all, making his solo in the theatre, singing on his lyre.

An actor, an emperor.
The blocks of the minuetto and the polacca paint the moments, the sounds like of a dance that are like a bagpipe, different, and the Poland so close, so linked. The violin dances.
The triumph is on.

Concert n.2
Do you hear it?
The distinctive sound of the trumpet . A trumpet among all. The trumpet of fame, that breaks with her metal sound the soil like the wheels of the chariots of an army. The sound stated in all literature on the royals.
It spreads, an abnormal instrument long and straight. Golden in its tuning in f, in an era where they were in c… Every person seeing an uncoiled trumpet would have known at the time exactly what it was .. Fame making its way.
Also, Luther recites:” To make music with hammered trumpets is to preach [predicare] the mystery of the kingdom of heaven and exhort to spiritual good things. To make music with voice of the bronze horn is to preach [predicare] and to reprove our sins and evil.”

Bach, he likes to push the limits, coupling this fame to violins and recorder, they are reason and passion, leading fame up the Parnassus, home of the muses, where they find the poets. The Prince hosts this reunion, in a languid sound of the oboe and recorder coupled. The Home of Homer, Virgil, Dante…
The kingdom of Heaven meets and combines with Parnassus, leading to the figure of this prince, hosting classical culture in a religious world, leading the Parnassus in the order of the next concerto….

Concert n. 3

Nine muses and the harmony of the spheres
The only strings here all live in a constant proportion and mathematics. A world dominated by the definition of harmony represented in the era of Bach straight out of the end of the Renaissance. As the Mount Parnassus populated by Apollo and the muses, the daughters of Mnemosyne, memory, that live near the fount of Ippocrene, where memory and eternal is given
So the rule of number three is all throughout the composition, three is the perfection, the design of trinity, so the blocks of instruments are in number of three.
Three groups of three violins, three violas and three cellos.
The idea of the world, derived form authors starting from Gaffurius into Fludd, is of a sound that tunes the world. Is it the chord striked in the second movement by the violin, of Apollo’s lyre, living in the highest of heavens? The uperunanium world.
The idea of the universe divided by the different muses in as the nine heavens starts in Marziano Cappella that correspond to different levels of sound is blended with the idea of the world derived by the Harmonices Mundi by Kepler. And described in the Paradiso by Dante:
O voi che siete in piccioletta barca,
desiderosi d’ascoltar, seguiti
dietro al mio legno che cantando varca,
tornate a riveder li vostri liti:
non vi mettete in pelago, ché forse,
perdendo me, rimarreste smarriti.
L’acqua ch’io prendo già mai non si corse;
Minerva spira, e conducemi Appollo,
e nove Muse mi dimostran l’Orse.
Kepler speaks of the sounds of the planets, their position, closer of distant from the sun defines their sound. Higher and faster or slower and lower. This is the chord the evolves into a bariolage, a distinct fast ensemble of notes, a mercurian spirit.
This is true in the second movement, a depiction of this planetary order and movement.
The, two bars of adagio, the Alpha and Omega of God, opening a kind of total movement, a piece that sounds like an organ.
An angel that means messenger in Greek, moves through the spheres, making its way and working through the stars.
The idea of a regulated sky, an astrological concerto that is a description of the idea of music as a God related structure of the skies and a t the same time a paid tribute to the classic world.
Playing is ascending to the Empireus, but through the Parnassus, and the nine Muses.
It’s where Apollo and his lyre will take you with his mania (inspiration). This is what music will do.

Concert n.4

The contest between Apollo and Marsyas
Apollo was regards as the custodian of order against the dionisiac energy and enthusiasm. The idea of this contrast is echoed in another of Bach’s composition, and here yany ideas are in common: ‘Der Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan’ BWV 201 (The Contest between Phoebus and Pan)… seems to have been intended for an outdoor performance. In the middle section of the opening chorus…the echo effect was carefully written out, so it is possible that it was performed in a place without a natural echo, such as the garden, often used by the Bach Collegium Musicum, just before the east gate of the town.” In any case, this concert, which appears to have taken place during the Leipzig Michaelmas Mass at the end of September 1729 before an audience of locals and out-of-towners, will have carried the seal of an uncommon event. After all, both the librettist and the composer — obviously in close collaboration — were aiming at nothing less than the exposition of an aesthetic program in unequivocal opposition to the galant style that was becoming increasingly more fashionable around 1730.
The action is based on the legend of the contest between Apollo and Marsyas.
It is not really Pan..who succumbs to Phoebus-Apollo’s sublime art, to which Bach devotes the finest of his own, but…Midas… he doesn’t understand and as a bad judge get ass ears.
So the Muses seemed willing to give Marsyas also… so Apollo had to start doing tricks like playing upside down and more to win. Al of this echoed in the two flute in “echo”, representing the Greek aulos, which was a reed instrument, a war instrument also, and opposed there is the lyre- violin with his desire to impress, ennoble the melodies, clear, up and down, fast.
Broken chords, double stops…
The virtuoso here is trying to win.
The double flute is expressed in slight echo effects created and noted as fashionable at the time, with a style Bach himself used in his Actus tragicus funeral cantata to create an atmosphere of serene death.
So the king of the muses is the margrave that helps the triumph of reason over chaos, allowing to make choices of virtue in a scenery of Vanitas that defines the human condition.
That leads us at the scenery of the hero of concert 5.

Concert n.5

Hercules choice
The concerto was probaly a metaphor of a moment of Bach’s life. The encounter and contest, as supposed by Dirksen, with the French harpsichord player Louis Marchand.
Contest never to happen, as Marchand left the city of Dresden during the night, not to face Bach.
An allegory inside another. It is linked with Dresden for the two instruments that reveal the ability and charisma of two musicians there: the flutist Buffardin, teacher of Bach’s brother Jacob and the violinist Pisendel, virtuoso for whom Vivaldi was to write pieces himself and had met in Venice.
The harpsichord part, obviously, was for himself.
The idea of the cadenza is for the harpsichord so long and does come to mind was a theorician of musica poetica was once again saying about this figure: poetic music is divided in two parts, improvisation (sortisatio) and composition (compositio). Considering improvisation as “a sudden and impulsive ordering of a song through diverse melodies” which is based on one’s practical experience, emphasizing the superiority of composed over improvised music. Providing discussion of the use of cadences (clausula) by equating its function to the end of a sentence or paragraph… learners must be taught in what order cadences are to be conjoined so that they also render a just harmony for the ears.
Two things are to be considered carefully in the placement of cadences: one ofwhich is that they correspond in a fitting way to the words, the other to the concentus, and that they cohere to them equally.
Bach here follows by heart this description, his speech is peerless.
The subject is the choice of Hercules between virtue or vice, idealizing the noble margrave as making this distinguished choice. It was set in music by Bach in 1733 for his school alumni to celebrate another prince…
Both a newspaper account and the printed text list 5 September 1733 as the day of the performance [of BWV 213], and the birthday of the Saxon crown prince Friedrich Christian (1722-1763) as the occasion. The ‘Leipziger Zeitungen’ also mentions that it was performed by the ‘Bachische Collegium Musicum’ as ‘solemn music from 4 to 6 o’clock in the afternoon…in the Zimmermann garden.
‘ In Bach’s setting, the popular subject (also used by Handel, Reinhard Keiser and others) of ‘Herkules auf dem Schweideweg’ (Hercules at the Crossroads) and of his [Hercules’] choice of the way that, in spite of its being the more arduous one, led to the more exalted blessings of virtue.
Like Hercules, the prince was at a crossroad that would make him virous or not, godlike or not.
So the idea was familiar to him, the rhetoric… the long cadenza also showing the indecision of the hero… the sound of war like flute an invocation to his protector, Minerva, goddess of knowledge.
Again order was invoked in the Apollo violin, blending in his Vivaldi- like moving, in a horizon that speaks of the court of Dresden, of Bach’s victorious effort, choosing virtue and speaking the same of his royal subjects.
Everything in this human story: fame, triumph, virtue, order… to end in a way. Vanitas vanitatum, which is number 6.

Concert n. 6

The art of diyng
Ars moriendi- a treatise and a moral discipline, the baroque man expressed his anguish and fear of death channeling it into a morality destined to see it as a reunion.
Finally into God.
The world expressed its moral fears in a story, the encounter of the three living and the three dead. he basic version of the story goes like this: three young noblemen are out hunting.
Suddenly, they come across three corpses, which are in varying states of decay, but nonetheless still animated.
Unsurprisingly, the young men express shock and dismay at the sight, while the three corpses admonish them.
To consider the transience of life. And improve their behaviour before it is too late.
They were popes and princes, not what they see it’s what stays.
Vanitas vanitatum.
The concerto is expressed also by all tenor instruments, that show the world of the dead, two altos, two viola da gambas, cello and violone plus harpsichord continuo. A somber and dark pitch, like an image of dusk.
The gamba winks at Cothen prince Leopold, a distinguished player of the instrument, but also of C.F. Abel, present in the Brandenburg orchestra, a true poet of the instrument.
So the underwold is present in this story, the princes (two violas and cello) opposed to the corpses (two gambas and violone). They dialogue and pass in the second movement where the souls are blissful and joyous after repentance and thoughts.
Here the viols are silent, corpses have returned in their silence.
Broken by the triumphal third movement, were they dance altogether, in a Dance of death that remembers Holbein’s series. Everybody, from the rich to the poor, from the Prince to the peasant is taken away. So, moral and a good life will lead to a good Death, when she arrives to take you in its dance of spiral downwards movements.
This is a triumph, in dance movement, clear, of the Christiana faith, in a moment, in death. What was called Holy diyng, as expressed by Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667)
‘Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying’
But so have I seen a Rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and at first it was fair as the Morning, and full with the dew of Heaven, as a Lambs fleece; but when a ruder breath had forced open its virgin modesty, and dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on a darkness, and to decline its softness, and the symptoms of a sickly age; it bowed the head, and broke its stalk, and at night having lost some of its leaves, and all of its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces.
The end is here, the Vanitas portrait from concert one through six, Cesar will also, die, the ruler, the poet, the just will choose harmony and virtue and lay to rest, in the name of God.

copyright Emiliano Marinucci 2018

art, baroque, Baroque, Baroque music, Gentileschi, italianstyle, italy, Monteverdi, music, painting, Uncategorized, Venezia

Artemisia me pinxit

La copertina del volume edito da B4baroque, disponibile dal 5 marzo.

Il ritratto di una vita barocca

Questo raccontare nasce da un incontro fisico con la pittura di Artemisia Gentileschi, in prima persona. Nel 2001, a Palazzo Venezia venne allestita un’esposizione storica, I Gentileschi, che metteva in rapporto e, perchè no, anche a confronto, le opere di padre e figlia. Orazio e Artemisia si costituivano come un itinerario dal tardo manierismo fino al barocco di linguaggio europeo. non solo, ma anche una geografia delle luci e gusti dell’Europa di quel momento, da Pisa a Roma, da Farnese a Napoli, Londra, Parigi, Venezia.

Ogni posto aveva un momento, un quadro, una luce, un linguaggio. una destinazione.

I quadri sembravano destinati ai luoghi, alle committenze. Venni incaricato di scrivere il testo del documentario che veniva proiettato all’interno.

Quindi mi immersi nelle loro vite, nelle loro abitudini, nei colori, composizioni, lettere e leggende. Artemisia era tutt’altro rispetto alla leggenda e alla modernizzazione che ne era stata fatta. Mi riferisco a quello per cui è nota, il processo per stupro intentato contro Agostino Tassi, amico e collega del padre Orazio.

L’inganno a lei perpetrato era reale, la malafede da lei esperita era stata un trauma a tutti gli effetti, vista anche la difficoltà dal suo punto di vista di comprendere fino a che punto il padre fosse coinvolto nella situazione. La sua amicizia con Tassi, infatti,non cessò con la condanna. Uno stupro che era stato sottile e peggiore dell’atto stesso, infame, le venne perpetrato. Le si rubò, con il processo, la spettacolarizzazione e la tortura, una fanciullezza e ingenuità che le dovevano appartenere.

Divenne un simbolo per sé di qualcosa di diverso. Tutta la vita avrebbe brigato per affermare un qualcosa che non aveva in realtà bisogno di sottolineare. Ma da una parte quello di Artemisia era un gioco, ed una vendetta allo stesso tempo.

La sua condizione di pèitrtrice la collocava nel campo dello stravagante e del meraviglioso, una categoria che il barocco viveva e respirava a ogni passo.

Ma non era mai distante in nessun campo da una poetica dell’esistenza reale. Musica, poesia, letteratura, erano la sua realtà, nella corte di Cosimo II fu un’ornamento protagonista di momenti che erano delle idealizzazioni, realizzazioni di quello che era un vero e proprio progetto culturale.

Lì recitava, cantava e viveva la corte.

Lo splendore che sentiva come sua dimensione, sua condizione la ingannò.

Lo studio del suo epistolario rivela un’affarista furba e capace di raggiri, con le mani bucate e sempre in cerca di aiuto e commissioni. Esemplare a questo riguardo il bizzarro rapporto con l’amante impresario Francesco Maria Maringhi, andato avanti per lungo tempo insieme ad una serie di storie parallele, in cui si incrociavano altree figure come quella del musicista e agente di artisti Bellerofonte Castaldi.

Con la complicità del marito che, dobbiamo ricordare era testimone a suo favore e fratello del suo difensore duranre il processo contro Tassi, ingaggiava un duello verbale fatto di romanticismo e raggiri verso questo, che vivrà a lei accanto, distante e vicino, tra amore e denaro,sentimento e necessità.

Una vita fatta di maschere ed inganni, aspettativa ma di grande respiro, divisa con le miserie di un’esistenza sempre precaria. Con la certezza del suo valore in mano, la passione e l’orgoglio Artemisia si impone come qualcosa di unico, stravagante, metaforico, pirotecnico e poetico in un mondo in continua rivoluzione.

Il seicento è il secolo della crisi, che esprime l’ansia della fine delle certezze positive del Rinascimento.

Il dubbio, la ricerca della condizione e posizione dell’uomo nell’universo stimolano una ricerca che si mette continuamente in discussione. Le iconografie, le scritture, I simboli, sono tutti regolati.

Quindi la capacità di raccontare, di sviluppare un linguaggio che si muova intorno a questi steccati è la grandezza di quest’epoca.

In questa cornice Artemisiasi rivela la voce alta e lucida che conosciamo. Si immedesima nelle sue eroine, fa in modo che la identifichino nelle storie che racconta. Artemisia è avvolta dai broccati giallli, Artemisia accorda e suona il liuto, Artemisia “sceglie la parte migliore” come scrive sullo specchio nella Maddalena, Artemisia, subisce le impure attenzioni di due viscide figure come Susanna, ma anche trionfa sul carro trainato da tritoni e ricco di coralli come Galatea.

Martire e vincitrice, Artemisia percorre l’Europa come una stravaganza, una rarità, un prezioso ed unico gioiello.

E’ un’opera in una wunderkammer, cosciente di sè. Che vive di una grandezza ed un’aspirazione che le saranno anche fatali. Il desiderio di innnalzarsi, di splendere, la porteranno al fallimento economico.

Una circostanza che da Firenze la riporterà a Roma, poi in Inghilterra col padre, poi a Genova, Venezia, Napoli.

Quasi un bene, la porterà a conoscere,. A confrontatsi, a suoonare, a vedere luci e figure diverse.

Venezia significa Monteverdi e per legame diretto Barbara Strozzi, la cantatrice e compositrice che è lo specchio di Artemisia in musica. Nei suoi soli vocali racconta le eroine che compiono una storia e una lotta in musica, sono micro opere di dieci minuti, lamenti e abbandoni, martiri, esecuzioni. Saggi di pura recitazione dalle emozioni precise, declamate, concentrate.

Scene sole, come quelle delle figure di Artemisia, sul palco della tela che, a 400 anni di distanza, ci portano su quella scena, in quel momento.

Questo si prova davanti a quei quadri, ci si paralizza davanti al senso della lama che recide la testa, il sangue che schizza, I denti che si stringono, gli occhi vitrei dall’orrore. Giuditta.

O innamorati guardandola negli occhi, scorrendo e sentendo la musica del liuto, guaradandone I lineamenti sottili. Santa Cecilia.

Ho percorso l’Europa sui suoi passi e nei suoi quadri, ho suonato la tiorba nei recessi delle vie e nelle sale dei palazzi, ho sorriso nei canali veneziani e abitato nei quadri dei loro tenebristi.

Sentito il profumo dei limoni napoletani e dell fame nei vicoli. Conosciuto la miseria e l’esaltazione.

Visto il peggio e il meglio del mondo del dubbio e salito sul carrozzone del teatro dell’arte.

Ringrazio Artemisia per avermelo fatto fare.

Tra I capitoli ci sono dellle grida, piccoli brandelli degli atti del suo processo per stupro, dei lanci, dei vocalizzi, che accompagnano il racconto, la storia del suo divenire.

Mentre quello che importa è il suono dell’epoca del momento, che nasce dalle poesie, dai testi delle musiche che infestano la storia, disegnano il paesaggio su cui si muovono le figure.

Un autoritratto che è qui a Roma, come allegoria della pittura, è opera cardine per avvicinarla. Era in Inghilterra, era appena morto suo padre. Voleva ribadire la sua posizione. Si ritrae palesemente più giovane di quello che poteva essere, al collo ha un medaglione, una scimmia, che simboleggia la finzione, la recitazione.

Playlist b4baroque del volume

Non c’è bisogno di aggiungere nulla.

La sua strada la percorre tra i nodi della sua epoca, per creare un personaggio.

Del teatro del mondo, sul cui palcoscenico recita una vita.

La sua forza e la sua tragedia. Muore in povertà nonostante il successo.

Artemisia è un’epitome del barocco, ne racchiude il piacere e le contraddizioni, i dubbi ma soprattutto ne esprime i discontinui e fragili trionfi.

Per questo non rinuncerei mai a ripercorrere il suo mondo .

Il volume sarà disponibile dal 5 marzo .

art, baroque, Baroque, Baroque music, Food, Guitar, italianstyle, italy, Monteverdi, music, painting, Stradivaria, Venezia

Monteverdi and today’s art

The quest to give a contemporary shape to Baroque music is lit in Marinucci’s work.

For many years Emiliano Marinucci’s work has developed a deep relationship with baroque ideas and languages. The study of the composer Claudio Monteverdi has been going on for around 20 years, crossing the different fields of Marinucci’s interests.

From theshow of 1998 “Orfeo, favola in musica e pittura” the music and storytelling of this ideal father have walked with his imagination and creativity.

Later the relation with Caravaggio and all the lombard painters has helped him create an ideal substratus of the relation with the spirituality of counter reformation.

Monteverdi speaks the language of Arcimboldo, also through his musical interests, then of the Campi brothers in Cremona and, in a spiritual Borromesque way, the light of Caravggio.

The relation in his image creation has bloomed in a boom that is about to come out for B4Baroque. Here the music is lived through a research on the landscape where the composer dwelled. The provinces and amll courts around Mantua, the fields of the Cremonese. The river Po, with all his history and legends, then the narrow free streets of Venezia.


Monteverdi is lived again, also through his letters and writings, the art, philosophy and conception of the Universe. Keplero’s musical spheres, adapted and lived throgh the newborn elliptic universe are the world Monteverdi believes in.


See it with your eyes in Marinucci’s work. Out in march.