Polyphonic improvisation with Isaac Alonso de Molina: 23-27 July 2019

Improvised polyphony played a central role in the education of the musicians of the Renaissance and the Early Baroque eras. It was one of the three “pillars” of the musical curriculum, together with plainchant and cantus figuratus (the performance of written polyphony). In its classical form, called contrapunto alla mente, it consisted in the ability of improvising an additional line of music on top of an existing one, most typically a plainchant melody that functions as cantus firmus.
This course recreates such a skill. Taking the materials gathered from historical sources as starting point, the course presents a practical methodology that allows for internalization of intervals and voice leading patterns. The contents of the course include: classification of harmonic intervals (perfect consonances, imperfect consonances and dissonances) and possible progressions between them, simple contrapuntal models such as gymel and fauxbourdon, free counterpoint on cantus firmus, imitative counterpoint in the form of canon (stretto fuga at the unison, octave, fifth and fourth) and contrapuntal commonplaces such as clausulas and sequences.


After a wide-ranging classical music education, graduating from the Conservatory of
Valencia in 2001/2002 in four majors (piano, cello, chamber music and music theory),
he combined a professional career (playing in the Orchestra of Valencia and teaching
improvisation at the Conservatory) with private studies on composition and conducting.
Motivated by a strong interest towards Early Music he moved to The Netherlands to
study at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in 2007, where he further graduated in
harpsichord with Jacques Ogg, while undertaking an independent task of comprehensive
historical research and documentation on which he bases his perspective on musical
praxis. He obtained the degree of Master of Music, specializing in historical conducting
techniques (maestro di cappella / maestro al cembalo) under the guidance of teachers
like Peter van Heyghen, Fabio Bonizzoni and Ton Koopman.
He’s founder and director of La Academia de los Nocturnos (which focuses on Spanish
Renaissance and Baroque music), founding member of Cantores Sancti Gregorii
(medieval and Renaissance sacred repertory), and regular colaborator of the ensembles
Palma Choralis (Italy), Ars Lusitana (Portugal) and La Danserye (Spain). He also
founded The Eroica Project, orchestra with which he performed Beethoven’s
symphonies no. 1-3 on period instruments in 2012-2013.
He teaches at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and has also been invited to teach
and lead projects in other Dutch conservatories (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Tilburg). He uses
historical teaching methods and learning strategies to allow students to acquire a similar
set of skills to that expected from musicians in the past.

Music at Federico da Montefeltro’s court with Claudia Caffagni: 18-27 July 2019

Music at Federico da Montefeltro court:
The manuscript Urbinate Vat. 1411… and not only

«Federico edificò un palazzo, secondo la opinione di molti, il più bello che in tutta Italia si ritrovi; e ‘ogni opportuna cosa sì ben lo fornì, che non un palazzo, ma una città in forma di palazzo esser pareva» Baldassarre Castiglione, Il Cortegiano, 1528, I, 2.
«Federico […] built a Palace, to the opinion of many man, the fayrest that was to be founde in
all Italy, and so fornished it with everye necessary implement belonging therto, that it appeared
not a palaice, but a Citye in fourme of a palaice» The Book of the Courtier in the translation of
Sir Thomas Hoby (1561), I, 2.

The Course of Medieval Music might be called, this year, Course of Music in the Age of Humanism.
The course intends to provide participants with an exhaustive picture of the historical-artistic and musical context that characterizes, in an absolutely exceptional way, Urbino and his court in the middle of fifteenth century. The Palazzo Ducale of Urbino was, as reported by Baldassarre
Castiglione, “in the opinion of many, the most beautiful palace all over Italy”. It was conceived as a city, in the context of an urban net, that reflected the form of a building. The palace and the court of Urbino, thanks to the enlightened patronage of Federico da Montefeltro (1422-1482), offered a particularly fertile ground for the development of the arts, of all the arts!, from painting to architecture, from literature to music.
At his court Federico called the architect Maso di Bartolomeo, Luciano Laurana, principal architect of the palace, and Francesco Di Giorgio Martini, known as a military architect and welcomed to the court as personal advisor to the Duke. Among the painters stands out, among all, Piero della Francesca, a close friend of Federico, and worked, among others, Paolo Uccello and the Spanish Pedro Berruguete. Among the Duke’s protégés, was active also the mathematician Luca Pacioli, known for his studies on perspective. Federico was a great cultivator of his personal erudition, witnessed by the famous Studiolo and the library. The library was unique at that time for vastness and value, and was created in collaboration with the Florentine bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci (who gave a detailed description in his book Vita di Federico da Montefeltro); many copyists and miniaturists worked at the Scriptorium. The entire library – which together with the volumes collected by Federico's successors reached a consistency of more than 1760 manuscripts – was transferred to the Vatican Apostolic Library by Pope Alexander VII Chigi in 1657, who saved it from destruction and dispersal.
From this library comes the famous musical manuscript called Urbinate (Ms. Vatt. 1411), which
will be studied during the course. This source is particularly interesting for its links with the court of Urbino. In fact in the f. 1v, we read:
Questo libro de Musicha fu donato/ a: Piero de Arcangelo
De li Bona/venturi da Urbino dal Mag co Piero di Chosimo
De Mecicj di / Fiorenza
This book of Music was donated to Piero de Arcangelo
Dei Binaventuri of Urbino, from the Florentin Sir Piero di Chosimo
De Medici.
This sentence attests the arrival of this musical book at the court of Federico da Montefeltro
through the gift that, between 1465 and 1467, Piero Cosimo de’ Medici made to Piero dei
Bonaventuri, diplomat of the Duke of Urbino. It is reasonable to think that the music copied in the manuscript resounded among the walls of the Palace.

Copied in black notation around 1440, the manuscript contains 19 profane compositions (1 by
Johannes Ciconia, 12 by Jille Bincoys, 3 by Guillaume Du Fay, 1 by John Dunstable, 2 by
Anonymous) dating from 1410 to 1435.
The course aims to study the repertoire contained in the manuscript with insights on: notation,
comparison of parallel sources, analysis of poetic texts, performance practice and
instrumentation. But beyond that, to give the participants the opportunity to understand the
humanistic atmosphere that characterized the court of Urbino in XV century, the course offers this year an interdisciplinary approach with, in addition to the morning class of music, a series of
lectures (to be held in the first 5 afternoons) about: architecture, art, music iconography, literature and history, thanks to the involvement of several prominent scholars of the humanities.

The course is open to musicians (singers and instrumentalists) interested in the repertoire of the
fifteenth century and sensible to an interdisciplinary approach.


Born and raised in a fertile musical environment, Claudia Caffagni began her study of the lute
under the guide of her father Mirco at the age of thirteen. She continued her studies with Federico Marincola and Jacob Lindberg, from whom she received a diploma in Lute Performance at the Royal College of Music in London in 1989 and subsequently she studied with Hopkinson Smith in the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis with particular emphasis on Spanish Renaissance and German Baroque repertoire. In 1982 she began her professional activity both as a soloist and in various ensembles, specializing in Renaissance and pre-Baroque music. Together with the study of her instrument she also privileged the necessary study of musical source materials, notation and musical treatises, later concentrating her energies on the Medieval repertoire, already from the inception of the Ensemble laReverdie – one of the pre-eminent ensembles specializing in the study and performance Medieval music – of which she is a founding member (1986).

With the Ensemble laReverdie she has performed at the most prestigious festivals of all
Europe. She has recorded for the main Radio all over Europe and Mexico. She has recorded 21
CDs, among which 18 for ARCANA, in coo-production with WDR. All CDs has obtained a lot of
prizes (among all the Diapason d’Or de l’année 1993, Finalist 2010, Finalist 2013 Midem Classical Awards, Early Music, Finalist ICMA 2019, Early Music).
She studied singing with Elisabetta Tandura. As soloist singer, she has collaborated with the
ensemble Accordone, with which she has recorded the CD “Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis” for Cypress.
In 2015 together with Paola Erdas, she founded the duo Caffagni-Erdas with which she worked on two projects dedicated one to Christine de Pizan and the other to Johanne d’Arc, recorded and broadcasted by Radio3.
In 1994 she awarded (with honor) in Architecture at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di
Venezia, with a dissertation entitled: “Il temperamento in musica e in architettura: La Schola Riccatiana”, published in the book Le architetture di Orfeo (Ed. Casagrande-Fidia-Sapiens, Milano- Lugano, 2011). On the same subject she published for L. Olschki Press (Florence) her lecture at the International Conference dedicated to Giordano Riccati, placed in Venice at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini (October 2010). Recently she published the article “Homage to Johannes Ciconia.
Gears Marcum imitaris: a model for the motets of Ciconia” in Marcinum, II/2012.
In preparation the publishing of her lecture at the conference “Analisi della performance. Un ponte tra teoria e interpretazione” (Messina, 7-9 June, 2018).
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Ensemble laReverdie (1986-2006) she prepared a
new critical performing edition of Guillaume Du Fay’s “Missa Sancti Jacobi”, transcribing the Mass from the Codex Q15 now in Bologna, Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica.
This work has got a special mention at the 2014 edition of the “Luigi Gaiatto” award, promoted by the Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi onlus of Venice. She provides regularly transcriptions and
musicological researches to all the new projects of the ensemble laReverdie.
She has taught Early Music performance practice at the Conservatory “G. Tartini” in Trieste from 2001 until 2006. She regularly holds seminars and courses in Italy and abroad. Since 2005 she teaches at Milano Civica Scuola di Musica “Claudio Abbado”, where from 2018 she leads a Master in medieval music. From 2007 until summer 2015 she has taught medieval lute and medieval notation at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik di Trossingen (University of Music Trossingen/Early Music Institute). In 2016 she started a collaboration with Fondazione Benetton and Almamusica433 for a new project dedicated to the preparation of young selected musicians interested in late medieval music. Since 2003 she teaches Medieval Music at the Summer Courses of Early Music in Urbino, Italy.