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    Familiar Letters, Love Letters, and Madrigals of Sixteenth-Century Italian Writer and Organist Girolamo Parabosco

    Girolamo Parabosco. Il libro primo delle lettere famigliari...Et Il primo libro de' suoi madrigali Nuovamente posti in luce. Venice: Appresso Giovan. Griffio, 1551. [Bound together with his:] Delle lettere amorose...Libro secundo. Con alcune sue novella et rime. Venice: Appresso Paulo Gherardo, 1552.
    First edition of the Lettere famigliari and Madrigali, second edition of Delle lettere amorose (first published in 1548). Two works (the first with two parts) in one small octavo volume (5.875 x 3.875 inches; 150 x 99 mm.). The second part of the Lettere famigliari, Il primo libro de i madrigali is bound after Delle lettere amorose, with its own title. 52 [i.e. 54], [2, "Tavola delle lettere"]; 47, [1, blank]; 18, [3, Tavola], [1, printer's device] leaves. Signature collations: A-O4; A-F8; a-e4. Typographic ornament and woodcut printer's device on each title; woodcut printer's device on verso of final leaf of the Madrigali; historiated woodcut initials. Printer's imprint at foot of fol. 47r in the second work: "In Venetia per Giovan. Griffio. Ad instantia di Paolo Gherardo. Nell' Anno. M. D. LII."
    Contemporary limp vellum with fore-edge extensions. The original four ties (on three edges) are now lacking. Vellum stained and darkened, with a few small holes; staining to front endpapers, continuing onto the title-page; worming to both pastedowns, that in lower gutter of front pastedown continuing to free endpaper and first two leaves, with an additional small wormhole in the text through the first fourteen leaves, occasionally touching a letter or two; a few leaves with tiny holes at the lower edge. Delle lettere amorosa appears to have once been in a binding with the edges stained blue (faint blue stains at the edges); faint vertical stain on A5 and A8 (fols. 5 and 8); two small stains on B1 (fol. 9); lower corner of E1 (fol. 33) trimmed diagonally, with a quarter-inch tear to lower blank margin; half-inch tear to outer blank margin of F7 (fol. 47). Light to moderate foxing and browning throughout. Still, a very good copy.
    From the library of John Carroll Collins, with his booklabel on front pastedown.

    More Information:

    Not in Gregory & Bartlett, Catalogue of Early Books on Music. Adams P251 (Delle lettere amorose). Giuseppe Bianchini, Girolamo Parabosco, scrittore e organista del secolo XVI (Venezia, 1899), page 272, no. 68 (Il Primo libro delle lettere famigliari).


    Italian writer, composer, and organist Girolamo Parabosco (ca. 1524- 1557) "was the son of the Brescian organist Vincenzo Parabosco (d 1556) and, according to Zarlino, the pupil of Adrian Willaert by 5 December 1541. Parabosco described himself as a 'discipulo di M. Adriano' in his 1546 madrigal collection and eulogized Willaert in his comedy, La notte (1546)...Significantly, perhaps in view of his youth and his student relationship with Willaert, Parabosco's name (like that of his fellow pupil, Girolamo Cavazzoni) appears in lower-case letters in the running heads of Musica nova. In or shortly before 1546 Parabosco visited Florence briefly as a guest of Francesco Corteccia. Between 1548 and 1551 he made trips to Urbino, Ferrara, Piacenza, Brescia, Padua and Verona. Returning to Venice, he was elected first organist at S Marco [St. Mark's] on 16 June 1551, retaining this post until his death. Active in literary and musical academies in Venice, he knew Antonfrancesco Doni, Andrea Calmo, Pietro Aretino and Titian...Parabosco's motet-like madrigals show his study with Willaert" (H. Colin Slim in Grove Music Online).


    Parabosco published poems, comedies, novella, and collections of letters. His poems include Adonis (a mythological poem) and a poem in praise of the women of Venice (Il Tempio della fama, 1548); his plays include eight comedies and a tragedy (La Progne, 1548); is best-known literary work is I diporti (1550), a collection of seventeen stories modeled after Boccaccio's Decameron, supposedly told by a fowling-party weatherbound on an island in the Venetian lagoons. His musical compositions include a book of twenty-one madrigals for five voices (Madrigali a cinque voci, 1546), as well as four other madrigals published in 1541 and 1544, and some instrumental music.

    "Another influential collection from the years around 1550 is Il primo libro de i madrigali di Messer Girolamo Parabosco (Venice: Giovan. Griffio, 1551), the poems from which were anthologized, reprinted, and often set to music even into the early seventeenth century. Parabosco's is only the second volume of poetry to proclaim itself on its title page as composed exclusively of madrigals (the first is the volume of Madrigali del Magnifico signor Cavallier Luigi Cassola Piacentino of 1544). Nonetheless, in the dedication to his volume, Parabosco refers to 'questo mio primo libro de' Madrigali o veramente ballate,' [my first book of madrigals or actually ballads] and this in spite of the fact that none of the poems therein follows the strict metrical rules of the fourteenth-century ballata. At least eighteen of the fifty-nine poems in the collection, roughly one-third, should be called ballata-madrigals...For a modern (1987) edition of Parabosco's collection including the full text of the dedication, see Parabosco, Il primo libro dei madrigali, 1551 [edited by Nicola Longo]" (Anthony Newcomb, "The Ballata and the 'Free' Madrigal in the Second Half of the Sixteenth Century," in Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 63, No. 3 (Fall 2010), pages 427-497).

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