FRANCESCO LANDINI (1325 - 1397)
Francesco Landini was the most highly renowned composer of the Italian Ars Nova, a leading representative of the Florentine Trecento style. His father, Jacopo del Casentino (c.1310–1349), was a painter of the school of Giotto, and Francesco composed poetry imitating that of Boccaccio, Dante, and Petrarch, and wrote on other humanist topics, including ethics and William of Ockham’s new logic. The origin of his surname, Landini (or Landino), remains obscure; he is simply named “Francesco” in musical sources. Although born blind, Landini also became a famous organist as well as an instrument designer and tuner. Possibly born in Fiesole, he may have worked in Venice before 1370, and, between 1365 and his death, may also have been organist at San Lorenzo, where he was buried. In 1387, he was invited to plan the new organ for Florence Cathedral.
Approximately a quarter of the secular music surviving from the Italian Ars Nova is by Landini. His extant music is entirely secular, with the exception of one motet of doubtful attribution, and, one French virelai aside, his music sets only Italian texts, usually in the ballata form that he pioneered. He may also have written most of the texts of the 154 two- or three-part songs securely attributed to him (140 of which are ballate), while some are known to be by other hands. Landini is the best-represented composer in the Squarcialupi Codex, the most important single source for Trecento secular polyphony, while the Florence Biblioteca nazionale 26 manuscript is believed to have been compiled at least partly under his direction. Despite its progressive spirit, Landini’s music quickly became unfashionable, although it served as a model for Italian Ars Subtilior composers, who sometimes elaborated it. Since their modern rediscovery, several of Landini’s songs have gained renewed popularity, although the bulk of his oeuvre remains unrecorded.
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