Women Composers: Part I: Women of the 16th Century


Gaspara Stampa (1523–1554)  is considered to have been the greatest woman poet of the Italian Renaissance, and she is regarded by many as the greatest Italian woman poet of any age.  Here we get tacky, or we could.  Was she the greatest Italian poet?  When you have a list that includes Dante Alighieri, it may be smart not to quibble over technicalities.  She did not, though write music.  Her poetry is beautiful.

You who hear in these troubled rhymes,
In these troubled and these dark accents,
he sound of my amorous laments
And sufferings that vanquish all others’ –

Wherever valor is esteemed and prized,
I hope to find glory among the well-born:
Glory and not only pardon ; for what
Gives rise to my laments is so sublime.

And I hope some woman will be moved to say:
“Most happy she, who suffered famously
For such a famous cause!

           Oh, why can’t the fortune that comes
From loving a lord like him be mine,
So such a lady and I might walk side by side?

Maddalena Casulana (c.1540–c.1590) is the first woman in the history of the western world to have her music printed and published.  That’s a very big deal.  Quite a bit of her work has been recorded.

This is just exquisite.

Paola Massarenghi (fl. 1565–1585)

Lucia Quinciani (born c. 1566, fl. 1611)

Claudia Sessa (c. 1570–between 1613 and 1619)

Cesarina Ricci de Tingoli (born c. 1573, fl. 1597)

Vittoria Aleotti (c.1575–after 1620)