Simply... Philharmonic!1: Mellon Chansonnier. Music for Beatrice of Aragon Filharmonia Narodowa

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Simply... Philharmonic!1: Mellon Chansonnier. Music for Beatrice of Aragon
Consort FOWR, photo: Michał Gondko

Programme includes: Antoine Busnoys, Guillaume Du Fay, Vincenet, Petit Jan, Johannes Ockeghem, Walter Frye, Johannes Tinctoris, Hayne van Ghizeghem


Unlike many women who lived around the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Neapolitan princess Beatrice of Aragon received a comprehensive education at the court of her father, King Ferdinand I. Her teacher in the art of music was one of the leading music theorists of the fifteenth century, Johannes Tinctoris, who resided at the Neapolitan court not just in his teaching role, but also as an active singer and a legal adviser. One may suspect that he was also responsible for choosing the compositions that made up the Mellon Chansonnier – a songbook compiled c. 1475 that was presented to Beatrice probably in connection with her marriage to Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. Known for his love of music composed by his contemporaries, Tinctoris reflected his preferences in the choice of the works for the chansonnier, a significant proportion of which are French chansons, written by Tinctoris’ peers and composers of the preceding generation. On ascending to the Hungarian throne, Beatrice and her husband took care to develop music in the capital, thanks to which Buda became a major musical centre. We may assume that she took with her the Mellon Chansonnier and that Hungarian court music under her reign flourished, drawing on French models.


Simply… Philharmonic! Project 1:

Already in ancient Greece, Aristotle distinguished the arts that imitated nature, including among them (in part) music. The philosopher discerned the source of delight from contact with music in its concordance with nature, emphasising the importance of the empirical cognition of the art of music. A practical view was espoused by the thirteenth-century theorist Johannes de Grocheo, who alone described the full sound of Paris during his times. Presenting the musical genres currently in use, he left us one of the few profiles of the secular music cultivated during that period. Almost 200 years later, another theorist, Johannes Tinctoris, also focussed his attention on compositions of his own times. His tastes were reflected in the Mellon Chansonnier, prepared for a Neapolitan princess. The sounds of the natural world were also embraced by the Venetian Baroque master Antonio Vivaldi. In his collection Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, Op. 8, the composer introduced suggestive titles for his concertos that directly point to sound inspirations from the world around him. Besides his most famous Four Seasons, he also illustrated, for example, the sounds that accompanied hunting.

Daniel Laskowski