Unpacking a Book of Early-Seventeenth-Century Madrigals

Submitted by shawreb on
Rebecca Shaw, Music Archivist

Hidden in the Rare Book Vault at the Music Library is a collection of early-seventeenth-century madrigals for five voices. While access to the physical copy of this treasure is not possible right now, it is fully digitized and available online. The collection consists of 20 partbooks with madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo, Alfonso Fontanelli, Tomaso Pecci, Nenna Pomponio, Marco da Gagliano, and Filippo Vitali. Bound together sometime after the latest publication (1624), the 464-page collection is united by genre (five-voice madrigals), voice part (quinto), date (early seventeenth century), location (Italy), and printing style (movable type). The location of the accompanying partbooks for the other four voices is unknown. Today's blog offers some contextual information on the owner of the collection prior to its arrival in the Music Library (Edgar Osborne) and on the printers of the madrigals (the Gardano family).

To start your own examination of this source, visit the Internet Archive, or start flipping through the pages below.

The Collector-Librarian: Edgar Osborne

When you open the front cover of this collection, the first thing you see is probably the Music Library's bookplate. However, if you look more closely at the next page, you will notice the name "Edgar Osborne" lightly inscribed in pencil. At one point, this collection was part of Osborne's collection. Osborne (1890-1978) was a librarian from Derbyshire, England, perhaps best remembered for his collection of children's books that he donated to the Toronto Public Library in 1949 in tribute to Lillian H. Smith, the former head of children's library services. The collection, which initially consisted of 1,800 items, has now grown to over 80,000 items, some of which are digitized.

Beyond his collection of children's books, Osborne was also a collector of Early Modern European books and manuscripts. Some of this collection was purchased in 1972 by the University of Calgary Library Special Collections. The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library also holds two first edition publications by Charles Dickens that were previously part of Osborne's collection: The Cricket on the Hearth (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1846) and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848). And, of course, there is the subject of today's blog: a collection of early-seventeenth-century madrigals that now resides in the Music Library.

Printing Lions and Bears: The Gardano Family

Turning the page once more brings you to the title page of the first volume of madrigals for five voices by Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. This volume, like most others in this collection, was printed in Venice by a member of the Gardano family. The two exceptions are: (1) the eighth book of madrigals by Nenna Pomponio, printed by Giovanni Battista Robletti (1609-1650) of Rome in 1618, and (2) the second book of madrigals by Filippo Vitali, printed in Florence by Pietro Cecconcelli in 1623.

Antonio Gardano (1509-1569) started the family music printing business in Venice in 1538, after moving there from Fréjus in southern France. Gardano prints are identifiable not only by the Gardano name, but also by their distinctive lion and bear printer's mark. The mark pays tribute to Antonio Gardano's first patron in Fréjus, Bishop Leone Orsini (leone = lion and orso = bear). Although the precise iteration of the image underwent various changes over the years, the lion and bear remained. As a point of comparison, look at the printer's mark in Gesualdo's first book of madrigals (above) as opposed to that in Gesualdo's sixth book of madrigals (below). In the first book (printed in 1616), the lion and bear are isolated in the centre of the page; in the sixth book (also printed in 1616), the printer's mark has been integrated into a more decorative title page.

Following Antonio Gardano's death in 1569, the printing business passed to his sons, Alessandro Gardane (1540-1591 or 1603) and Angelo Gardano (1540-1611). Alessandro withdrew from the company in 1575 to form his own printing business, whose printer's mark featured two lions rather than a lion and a bear. Angelo Gardano continued the family business under his own name. See the fourth book of madrigals by Marco da Gagliano in this collection, printed in 1606. Later, the printer's name appears as "Angelo Gardano e fratelli" (Angelo Gardano and brothers, e.g., the fifth book of madrigals by Gagliano), following the death of his brother Mattio and subsequent legal action by his widow, re-claiming her dowry and her husband's part of the company.

After Angelo's death in 1611, the printing business passed to his daughter Diamante. For two years, before her death in 1613, publications appeared under the name "l'Herede di Angelo Gardano" (heir of Angelo Gardano), including Nenna Pomponio's fifth book of madrigals printed in 1612 (see below). When her husband took over the company following her death, publications appeared under his name, as well as the Gardano family name and the lion and bear printer's mark: "Stampa del Gardano, Appresso Bartholomeo Magni".

Table of Contents

To continue your exploration of this collection, click on any of the links below to jump to a particular section of the digitized copy.

Madrigali del Venosa a cinque voci by Carlo Gesualdo

  • Book 1 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1616)
  • Book 2 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1617)
  • Book 3 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1619)
  • Book 4 (Venice: Angelo Gardano and Fratelli, 1611)
  • Book 5 (Venice: Gardano, 1614)
  • Book 6 (Venice: Gardano, 1616)

Madrigali a cinque voce by [Alfonso Fontanelli]

  • Book 1 (Venice: Bartolomeo Gardano, 1616)
  • Book 2 (Venice: Bartolomeo Gardano, 1619)

Madrigali a cinque voci by Tomaso Pecci

  • Book 1 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1616)
  • Book 2 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1617)

Madrigali a cinque voci by Nenna Pomponio

  • Book 1 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1617)
  • Book 4 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1617)
  • Book 5 (Venice: l'Herede di Angelo Gardano, 1612)
  • Book 6 (Venice, Bartolomeo Magni, 1618)
  • Book 7 (Venice: Bartolomeo Magni, 1624)
  • Book 8 (Rome: Gio. Battista Robletti, 1618)

Madrigali a cinque voci by Marco da Gagliano

  • Book 4 (Venice: Angelo Gardano, 1606)
  • Book 5 (Venice: Angelo Gardano and Fratelli, 1608)
  • Book 6 (Venice: Bartolomeo Gardano, 1620)

Madrigali a cinque voci by Filippo Vitali

  • Book 2 (Florence: P. Cecconcelli, 1623)
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