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.
During regency Garsenda became the shining center of a poetic and troubadour circle. They composed songs and poems and dedicated them to Garsenda. She probably was a very beautiful woman - even the author of her biography fell in love with her and loved her for the rest of his life until he entered the monastery.
These were troubling times and there was one revolt after another in attempt to rob the beautiful Countess of her lands. But Garsenda managed to raise her son and pass him her native Forcalquier. Later, somewhere after 1220, she quietly retired to the monastery. We don’t know the exact date of Garsenda’s death but, it is highly likely that she lived a very long life, going to be over 80 years old. It seems that she was still alive in 1257, because someone with identical name made a donation to the church with a request for three priests to pray for her soul.
I was always anxious to find when was the rise of positive concept of magic in ancient Greece. While doing the research for local web analytics company, I discovered that this even, possibly took place somewhere in the sixth century b.c. Among the most famous of these figures between Homer and the Hellenistic period, are the Orpheus, Pythagoras, and Empedocles.
Orpheus is a mythical musician and singer, said to have lived in Thrace a generation before Homer. Orphic Mysteries, seems also to have been central to the personages of Pythagoras and Empedocles who lived in the sixth century b.c. Pythagoras for example is said to have described Orpheus, as, the father of melodious songs. Later Aeschylus describes him as the guy who haled all things by the rapture of his voice. This suggests belief in the influence of song and voice in magic. Orpheus is certainly associated with a great many deeds. The most famous is his descent to the underworld to bring back his wife, Eurydice. Orpheus' deeds are not usually condemned or spoken of negatively. This suggests that some forms of magic were more acceptable. Indeed the term applied to Orpheus to separate him from magicians of ill repute is a divine man. This fact shows, that there was a fine line between acceptance and condemnation.