Sunday, 10 February 2019

Ave Regina Caelorum

Isabella Leonarda, the name chosen by or perhaps forIsabella Calegari, when she became an Ursaline nun, is a remarkable figure in the history of Western music. It was not at all unheard of for women to compose music in times gone by, but in virtually all such instances, the music written is vocal: sacred motets -- such as we might expect nuns (for most woman composers in earlier times were nuns) to produce -- and/or secular madrigals. It is indeed unusual to find a seventeenth-century Italian woman like Leonarda putting together textless instrumental music in the new Italian Baroque fashion.
Calegari, the daughter of a seventeenth century Italian aristocrat, was born in the city of Novara in 1620. As was still common in her day, most of the sons and daughters of the family were sent into church service, leaving only the eldest son to look after family matters. At age 16, then, Isabella entered the convent of Santa Orsala (Ursala), henceforth to be known as Leonarda. It is possible, though not proven, that Gasparo Casati, master of music at the Novara Cathedral, was her teacher in music. At any rate, in 1620, Casati organized the first publication of music written by her, in a volume otherwise devoted to his own music. She composed throughout her life and from the 1670s on, her music was regularly published, to a total of 20 volumes. She was, in addition, a very successful nun, eventually rising to the rank of Mother Superior for her convent and then becoming a Regional Counselor for the Ursalines. She died a few years into the new century, mostly likely in 1704.
Hail, O Queen of Heaven enthroned.
Hail, by angels mistress owned.
Root of Jesse, Gate of Morn
Whence the world's true light was born:
Glorious Virgin, Joy to thee,
Loveliest whom in heaven they see;
Fairest thou, where all are fair,
Plead with Christ our souls to spare.

V. Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin.
R. Give me strength against thine enemies.
Let us pray: We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to assist our infirmity: that like as we do now commemorate Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, Mother of God; so by the help of her intercession we may die to our former sins and rise again to newness of life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

Peter Lamb said...

Thank you Vox. More of the same please. :)