Guillaume DuFay’s (1397-1474) "Vergine bella, che di sol vestita" is among the earliest surviving musical settings of the poetry of Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374).
While the 3-part music is frequently performed today adding text to the lower parts, there is a sufficient degree of authority to support an instrumental rendering of the tenor and contratenor lines, which are mostly untexted in historical sources. Our performance is in accordance with the original clef designations from Bodleian Library ms. Canonici 213 with the two untexted lower parts played on the lute. As is typical of his music, DuFay had a formal scheme of proportion in his time signatures for this sectional piece, but we assign a larger value to the basic pulse and shape the time changes in accordance with the rhetorical devices inherent in the text.
Vergine bella, che di sol vestita,
coronata di stelle, al sommo Sole
piacesti sí, che 'n te Sua luce ascose,
amor mi spinge a dir di te parole:
ma non so 'ncominciar senza tu' aita,
et di Colui ch'amando in te si pose.
Invoco lei che ben sempre rispose,
chi la chiamò con fede:
Vergine, s'a mercede
miseria extrema de l'humane cose
già mai ti volse, al mio prego t'inchina,
soccorri a la mia guerra,
bench'i' sia terra, et tu del ciel regina.
- Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374)
O Virgin fair, arrayed in the sun, crowned with stars,
You who found such favor with the highest Sun
that he hid his light in you,
Love drives me to speak of you.
But I cannot even begin without your aid
and the aid of Him who established Himself in you.
I invoke her who has always answered those
Who called upon her with faith.
Lady, if extreme misery in things of earth
ever turned you to pity,
Bend down to to my prayer, help me in my struggle
Though I be clay,
And you the queen of heaven!
translation by Donna Stewart
from On behalf of the muses,
released February 18, 2019
Music: Guillaume DuFay (1397-1474)
Poetry: Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374)
arranged for lute and voice by Ron Andrico, Mignarda Editions,
copyright Mignarda Editions 2012
Mignarda specializes in thoughtful programming illuminating the vibrant mingling of renaissance music & poetry. Noted for
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