MARCO ANTONIO CAVAZZONI (1490 - 1560)
Cavazzoni was born into a noble family in Bologna at an unknown date toward the end of the 15th century. His playing was called ‘divino’ while he was still a teenager, and his precocious talents, together with his good upbringing, must have smoothed his path into the service of the Duchess of Urbino, daughter of Isabella d’Este, before 1512; he most likely followed her into exile back at her hometown Mantua in 1516. Those early years earned him the sobriquet ‘d’Urbino’. Later he is documented as a private harpsichordist to Leo X in Rome, as colleague and eventual successor to Vincenzo da Modena, who had played a pedal harpsichord to the famous Duke of Ferrara, Ercole I (his patroness’s grandfather) on his deathbed. The oldest harpsichord still in existence was owned by that most extravagant and most melomane of the Renaissance popes, who is said to have kept Cavazzoni ‘very close to him’; it is pictured on our cover. Later still we find Cavazzoni as a member of the charmed Venetian circle around Bembo, Aretino (who addressed two of his famous letters to him), and Titian. Posts as organist at Chioggia and as a chorister at San Marco (intermittently from 1517) rounded off his illustrious career; he died sometime after 1560.