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Jul 27, 2011

In the end of the fourteenth century there was a monk who was writing tirelessly secular music. He was especially good at writing songs in the form of ballata, an Italian form of a song that was popular in Europe up for about hundred fifty years or more. This Italian composer was called Andrea da Firenze. In the late medieval period he was a member of Servite monastic order and took a vow of poverty, in order that all his time and energy could be expended on religious work.

When he entered the order, he got his first assignment: to build an organ for the Servite house in Florence. And what he did? He hired his dear and close friend – another prolific composer Francesco Landini as a consultant. These guys had fun and drank a lot of wine during this assignment. And in the end they managed to expense the wine that they drank and submitted the receipts to the order! Historical evidence shows that they drank a lot during three days that took them to tune up the instrument.

Well, evidently, in spite of being drunk most of the time, Andrea was successful with his first assignment. Soon he received a second one – to build an organ for Florence Cathedral. Two friends had a couple of other similar tasks to build organs in other Italian cities as well.

Obviously, Andrea was not just a prolific famous composer, but a great business administrator as well Andrea was also active within his order as an administrator. He was moving up the monastic order’s “corporate ladder” pretty fast. Soon he became a prior of two monasteries in Italy. But that did not stop him. Almost up to the end of his life in 1415 he ruled the entire Servite order in Tuscany.

Basically, we don’t know much about Andrea’s life before he became the monk. We don’t know his age at all. He got lucky, because since he entered the order in 1375, his members monks kept all their records in pristine environment. And anyways, we know about Andrea than the bios of other fourteenth century famous composers. His survived heritage includes thirty elegant and dramatic songs, with eighteen being for two voices and twelve for three.


 

 
 
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Ekaterina G.
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Delray Beach, FL, USA
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