Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Chiara by virtue, Margarita by honor that is the most important composer of the 1600 Italian scenery

Federico Moja, 1821- 1885.

Margarita Cozzolani was born in November on the 27 in 1602, in Milan. She was one of the most appreciated Italian composers of the 1600s.
Margarita was born in a rich and wealthy family of merchants and received, as a tradition, her education within the home, among the subjects given to her there was also Music which seems highly fit to her. So her artistic skills were assigned to the family Rognoni, known and respected masters of instrumental and vocal music of the era. But Margarita will see the opportunity to use her musical skills not so much in a good marital or family indoor rather in the shelter of a cloister, in fact as equally of a custom of the time, preceded by aunts and a sister, Margarita will be a Benedictine in the convent of St. Radegonda, near the Duomo of Milan, in 1620, at the age of eighteen, and will be consecrated with the name, she has chose, of Chiara.

This new condition of nun, however, does not inhibit her to use her talents as part of her monastic experience, moreover, it is not known with certainty the value of her vocation which then can not be denied in advance. In her convent, Sister Chiara then endeavored to work of Music, reorganizing Singings, Psalms, Vespers of the Eucharistic celebration with such sophistication and complexity to be able to attract whole crowds to the Convent to attend the executions of those nuns defined by a contemporary "[...] under the black spoils seem to the listener, candid, harmonious swans, that, fill the hearts of surprise, and kidnap their languages of encomiums".  [1]

In fact, the fame of her skills and ability as a composer earned her the opportunity to publish four works that are not unfortunately  entirely all came down to us.

"Visit of the Cardinal", by Salvatore Frangiamore, 1853.
The peculiarity of her arrangements was that her works had three metrics for as many choruses that melted with the symphony and the verses in double or triple time; Cozzolani's scoring establishes three sets of paired parts: two violins, two sopranos, two tenors and  basso continuo. [2]

Her musical works nevertheless convey between the period of 1640 to 1650 because  Sister Chiara was elected Abbess of Santa Radegonda and prefered focused on the commitments and responsibilities of her new charge so or to avoid to her Convent unpleasant situations or to meet the Cardinal Alfonso Litta's wishes who  hoped moderation of the use of Music in Churches, her activity was interrupted.

Sister Chiara, Maragarita, Cozzolani, died, in the Convent, presumably between 1676 and 1678.

Her and the luster that her music led to her Convent, remains in a panegyric of Filippo Picinelli in his  work , entitled "University of Literati Milanesi" in 1670 in which he writes:

"The nuns of St. Radegonda of Milan, in the possession of the music are equipped of such exquisiteness so rare, that are recognized for the first singers of Italy. [...]. Among that religious ones, deserves the most highest merits Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, named Chiara thanks to virtue; and Margarita, for the nobility of talent, rare, and excellent honor, who if in the year 1620 wore that  sacred dress, she succeeded in the exercise of music such a big success that from 1640 up to 1650 has sent to the press, four works of music".


  • Primavera di fiori musicali a 1. 2 . 3. 4. voci,dedicata all’Eminentissimo Cardinal Monti Arcivescovo di Milano, Milano, 1640, perduta;          
    "Spring of musical Flowers in voices, dedicated to the Cardinal Monti Archbishop of Milan, Milan, 1640, Lost;
  • Mottetti a 1. 2. 3. e 4 voci al Serenissimo Principe Mathias di Toscana, Venezia, 1642;
    Motets at voices to his Eminence Prince Mathias of Tuscany,
    Venice, 1642;
  • Scherzi di Sacra Melodia, Venezia, 1648;  perduto;        Jokes of sacred melody, Venice, 1648, Lost;
  • Salmi à otto voci concertati con Mottetti et dialoghi a 1. 2. 3.4.e 5. voci all’Illustrissimo Monsignor Badoaro Vescovo di Cremona, Venezia, 1650.                    
    Psalms in eight voices with concerted motets and dialogues in 1. 2. 3.4.5 voices to the Illustrious Monsignor Badoaro Bishop of Cremona, Venice, 165

[1] PICCINELLI F., “Ateneo dei Letterati Milenesi”, Ed. F. Vigone, 1670.
[2] KURTZMAN J., a cura di, “Vesper and Compline Music for Four Principal Voices:Agostino Agazzari, Giovanni Francesco Anerio, Giovanni Battista Biondi da Cesena, Maurizio Cazzati, Antonio Cifra, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Bonifazio Graziani, Giovanni Legrenzi, Isabella Leonarda, Tarquinio Merula, Lodovico Viadana”, Ed. Routledge, 2014.