Ensemble Anonima Frottolisti

Umanesimo in musica


Più vizi che virtù / More vices than virtues.

MUSIC FROM ITALIAN HUMANISM Stories of knights, unhappily married gals, intrigues, puns, “old” witches and impossible love affairs: masks and characters from the Italian Humanism, told through music and texts from that time.

Adoramus . Easter in musical humanism 

A journey through compositions dedicated to Easter between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of European Renaissance.

Il Cantorino di Reims


The “Cantorino” of the XIIIth century, arriving from the city of Reims in France, tells the music and the story of this century in a very detailed manner, representing at the same time the first example of music dedicated to the Franciscan Order.

Musica disonesta – Indecent Music


“Indecent music” starts from the basic postulate that the Quattrocento tells the fusion of two cultural worlds: the written and the oral one. The boundary between these two contexts appeared tenuous, so much that they coexisted in the same communicative universe: clichés, locutions, metaphors converged into the same cultural mode of interpretation. The songs tell stories, feelings and characters that are apparently generic: they actually describe a slice of the cultural context, repository of ancient knowledge, where what appears is not simply what is written but the representation of a huge container of meanings.


The beginnings of the “Commedia dell’Arte”

Mascher’Arti: the birth of the Commedia dell’Arte in music between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: Florence, Venice and Naples. Carnivalesque triumph in De Medici’s Florence, music and masquerades triumphs in Venice, poetry and “maschere” in Naples: the Commedia dell’Arte begins.

1414: 1 Papa su 4 

THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE AND THE MUSIC OF ITS TIME In November 1414 the King of Germany Sigismund pressed for the organization of the Council to resolve the desegregation of the Western Church. The Council took place in Constance and important people from different spheres of the society of the time participated. The concert tells the council and its music through the compositions and the practice of the time. This programm was born from the collaboration of Anonima Frottolisti and Armoniosincanto-dir. Franco Radicchia.

Alma, svegliate ormai.

Contrafacta devozionali

On this program the experienced Anonima Frottolisti Ensemble, a group specializing in early music and medieval, faces a very little performed yet very interesting repertoire: the “contrafacta”, compositions in which the lyrics and the melodies are mixed in a diverse blend of sacred and profane. Starting from the twelfth century, these two seemingly opposing worlds have different points of contact in the custom to use secular texts on sacred melodies. Later, however, the trend is the opposite: popular melodies in vogue at the time are filled with liturgical and spiritual texts, thus becoming an effective mean to lead people to faith and to the knowledge of the scriptures.

Gloriosus Franciscus. Music for St Francis from the 13th to the 16th.

A compelling disc of pieces from sources which are seldom explored for performances and recordings. — MusicWeb International, March 2019.

With Gloriosus Franciscus, Anonima Frottolisti presents a cross-section of history of music relevant to the Franciscan ideal through the first three centuries of the history of the Order: this sequence of selected pieces reveals both the learned side of this music and its closeness to “folk” devotion during the period straddling the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as a symbolic homage to the city where Anonima Frottolisti was born (Assisi): «Di questa costa, là dov’ella frange più sua rattezza, nacque al mondo un sole, come fa questo talvolta il Gange però chi d’esso loco fa parole, non dica Ascesi chè direbbe corto, ma Oriente, se proprio dir vuole…». (Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia, Paradiso, 11th Canto).

Di Corte in Corte. From court to court. Music in the Courts of Italian Humanism

The splendour and cultural heritage of Humanism contain an intricate network of intuitions and revolutions – that are often local or have developed in geographically or politically well-defined areas – of culture and of its representation in society: an unlimited theatricalisation of reality, in which each gesture, symbol and behaviour is transformed into an active component of the greatness and beauty of the Court and of its main actuators. The Humanism of theAnonima Frottolisti is the musical, artistic and cultural Humanism produced by the experience of the patronage that developed between the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth, a cross-section of the aesthetics and need for representativeness of that period, expressed by the intellectuals and the artists for their princes and their largest courts, ranging from the Sforza to the Este, Gonzaga, Dovara, Borgia,Aragona,Medici, Farnese,Malatesta,Da Carrara,Montefeltro and della Rovere, etc. The courts, which were formed precisely of musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, poets and writers who were often assigned political offices as ambassadors or military experts, stood out and “vied” with each other for the ideal of perfection with reference to classical antiquity and the quest for beauty; so the court was a context in which the “prince” or lord acted and was surrounded by artists and collaborators who enlarged his entourage in political, social, intellectual and aesthetic relationships. Historical testimonies, chronicles, exchanges of letters, manuscripts and early printed scores, notary’s documents, frescoes and other artwork tell us the story of an age that was rich in music, was the heir of the Middle Ages and its innovations, and was the cultural driving force towards the Renaissance: Humanism tells us, on all levels, the story of an innovation of form, and above all of the function and fruition of cultured music, with the development of its peculiar forms, which corresponded to the same poetic and literary forms in use at that time – frottole, barzellette, cacce, strambotti, odi, villotte, arias for declamatory octaves – words and forms that were “new” in the field of music and marked the production of more than a century. Music and representation, which had always been united in a perfect alliance, nowbecame an essential form of those expressions that for centuries had characterised the Western production, particularly the Italian one: the ideal of the Opera and of the Commedia dell’Arte,or, to be more precise,of the proto-opera and proto-commedia. Some examples of this historical stage remain as milestones in the development of these arts: one of them is La fabula di Orfeo, by Angelo Poliziano, staged in Mantua in 1480, the first testimony of a work in vulgar tongue of which we know the text, the composers and performers who collaborated, the place and theatrical machines – an opera before operas. As regards the proto-commedia, we need a short reflection, an analysis of the sources and texts, of the names and actions of the characters described in the musical production,which at first sight are veiled by a complex interpretation.The typical fifteenth-century technique was that of relating, exclusively in the profane repertoire, images and characters that were known in the transversal culture, i.e. the culture of the society that recognised their form and meaning at that time.Many pieces that stem from the frottola genre, and others as well, can be understood from the angle of a folk quotation. By folk quotation we mean all the text characteristics that were included in the compositions and resembled, albeit in an extremely cultured way, the oral world, the folk tradition of that time: complicated texts that, when considered from this angle, actually depicted proto-masks of the commedia, legendary characters, impossible knights and thwarted loves. The Flemish theoretician Tinctoris, who was active in Italy in the second half of the fifteenth century, perfectly summarised the perception of music in his society: It uplifts earthly minds / wards off ill will / gladdens men / heals sick individuals / relieves fatigue / incites people to fight / attracts love / increases gaiety in feasts / gives fame to those who practice it/ leads souls to bliss. So, centuries later, Anonima Frottolisti is attempting to provide a snapshot of the musical Humanism of the courts, dividing its course into five pictures: della Corte e del Potere, dell’Amore, della Festa, Danzasi come ovvero della Danza, della Fede (“Court and Power, Love, Festivities,Dance, Faith”).

Le lettere di Isabella / Isabella’s letters and his passion for music 

The court of Isabella D’Este and her music: a story of frottole, chanson and strambotti written by the best composers of the time: Marchetto Cara, Bartolomeo Tromboncino, Serafino l’Aquilano, Martini, Josquin, Brumell, etc…. . Isabella’s letters still tell us today, the wonderful humanistic culture of the European courts.

Through the Psalms.

Enrico Fink and Anonima Frottolisti present a story of the psalms. Jewish and Christian tradition, oral repertoire and music written in the fifteenth century, the archaic link between monotheisms.

Danzasi come.

The dance performed on vocal polyphony and monodies written by the dance masters of Humanism. this program was born from the collaboration of Anonima Frottolisti and Tripudiantes Dovarensis .The show includes the interaction between music and historical dance: alta cappella, voices, bassa cappella and dance, become a unique form of experience.

Volgi gli ochi.

Popular and cultured devotion meet in a program dedicated to music produced between the Middle Ages and Humanism, in para-liturgical form and in the vernacular in Italy. The laus, the Laudi, were born as a monodic and poetic form and then developed, in the fifteenth century, in a polyphonic form. A fundamental part of the history of this repertoire are the city’s “confraternite”, capable of representing the new bourgeois and commercial class of European cities. Their requests and their patronage are at the basis of the development of the writing of this compositional style, as well as the interest of interpreters known to the public of the time who devoted great attention to it and a consequent and copious production. “Volgi gli ochi” is a cross-section of this experience… .


This is a program that tells the journey of a pilgrim to Rome between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Many streets, churches, squares, villages, musical traditions and devotion. A journey through the eyes of our pilgrim.

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