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The Music Library of a Noble Florentine Family: A Catalogue Raisonne of Manuscripts and Prints of the 1720s to the 1850s Collected by the Ricasoli Family Now Housed in the University of Louisville Music Library.

The Music Library of a Noble Florentine Family: A Catalogue Raisonne of Manuscripts and Prints of the 1720s to the 1850s Collected by the Ricasoli Family Now Housed in the University of Louisville Music Library. Edited by Susan Parisi. Essays by Robert Lamar Weaver. Catalog compiled by John Karr. Guerilla Pampaloni, and Robert: Lamar Weaver. (Detroit. Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music, no. 59.) Sterling Heights MI: Harmonic Park Press, 2012. [xiii, 482 p. ISBN 9780899901589. $85.] Illustrations, music examples, bibliography, index.

The Ricasoli music collection represents one of the few rare cases of an aristocratic collection that has been preserved as such and has not been dispersed by wars, bankruptcies. (Jr other common tragedies. The through study and complete catalogue provided by Robert Lamar Weaver and his team is a valuable record of musical practices in eighteenth-century Florence as they can be deciphered in the music scores preserved in the collection.

The book starts with two essays by Weaver. The first is on the historical context of the collection and includes a well-documented attempt to reconstitute its history and genesis. Pietro Leopoldo Ricasoli Zaninchi (1778-1850) was the collection's main architect. A musical prodigy, he played the organ, harpsichord, pianoforte, flute, and violoncello. The first acquisitions relating to his collection are listed tinder the year 1795: three organ sonatas commissioned by Pietro Leopoldo from the Florentine Com poser Luigi Pelleschi, maestro di cappella and the family's harpsichord teacher. Pietro Leopoldo's collection comprises 139 items, a large part of which is organ music, the rest being sacred vocal music and instrumental music.

The beginnings of the collection, however, can be traced back Further. Weaver identifies two women from notable families linked to music as the ones who began the collection. The first was the mother of Pietro Leopoldo, Giulia Acciaiuoli (1756-83). She was a descendant of Filippo Acciainoli (1637-1700), an extremely important figure in the operas given in Rome at the very beginnings of the genre. He was an impresario, famous for the scenic devices he produced for several spectacular operas by Jacopo and Alessandro Melani. Bernardo Pasquini, and Pier Simone Agostini, among others, as well as for the intermedi given at the Tordinona, the first public theater in Rome during the 1670-71 season. Giulia played the harpsichord and probably started the first part of the collection. The second woman is Pietro Leopoldo's wife, Lucrezia Rinunccini (born 1779). Her father was a descendant of Ottavio Rinuccini. the librettist of the first Florentine operas, and her mother was a descendant of the Counts de' Bardi. She was an accomplished musician, playing several instruments, and kept her own collection (separate from her husband's), which contains only instrumental music (139 items, mostly sonatas and concertos). Another branch of the family, related to the baron Bettino Giuseppe Ricasoli Firidolfi (1739-1806), seems to have been responsible for the acquisition of operas and sacred music incorporated around 1831 in the Ricasoli Zaninchi library and preserved today in the collection.

Weaver's second essay is devoted to the practice of music under Pietro Leopoldo Ricasoli. Apart from the private practice of instrumental music, Pietro Leopoldo Organized performances of liturgical services in the Family chapel from 1791 to 1796. For these performances he commissioned new musci, mostly by Florentine composers such as Gaspero Sborgi (harpsichord teacher of Giulia, the mother of Pietro Leopoldo); Vincenzo Bianciardi, who composed ballets for the Cocomero Theater; Luigi Barbieri and Luigi Pelleschi, who were both engaged as teachers For the family's children; and Luigi Fanfani, maestro di cappella of the Duomo. The most important offices requiring music were the feasts of St. Aloysius Gontaga (June 21), St. Leopold (November 15). and the Holy Relics (May 3). The music played during these ceremonies survives in the collection and is mostly made up of three-part choral writing with orchestra and solo music. Pietro Leopoldo's collection not only testifies to his interest in commissioning new music for solemn ceremonies, also of his appreciation of older music. He bought music by Bartolomeo and Alessandro Fetid, as well as the Estro armonico by Benedetto Marcello. Weaver suggests that the scores of these works preserved in the collection were copies used for performances.

Weaver affirms that the "collection reflects the tastes and activities of a noble, eighteenth and nineteenth century Florentine family" (p. 40). Whereas this can in no way be questioned. I think a collection can tell us much more than that about its owners. A music collection is a strange historical object. Krzystof Pomian's enlightening stuck defines the collector's objects as "semiophores," or useless objects that have been diverted from their original function and assembled in a set (Krzystof Pomian, Collectionneurs, amateurs et curieux: Paris, Venise, XVIe-XVIIIe siecles [Pairs: Gallimard, 1987]; see in particular the chapter entitled "Entre le visible et I'invisible: la collection," pp. 13-59). In the process, the object acquires a meaning. becoming a sign of an invisible world, be it the past or a faraway exotic world. The collector's item is the vehicle that allows a glimpse of this invisible world, and it is a source of pleasure and knowledge. The collector's items therefore are miles apart from useful objects, made to be consumed, manipulated, transformed and used. Collector's items are there lo be preserved and admired. As objects of prestige, they also testify to the taste and good education of their possessor.

Three different previous catalogs of the collection, dated 1802, 1831, and 1879, have come down to us. In 1802, two separate inventories were made of the music belonging to Pietro Leopoldo and of the music belonging to his wife Lucrezia. The 1831 catalog testifies to a reorganization of the music collection. The inventory dated 9 April 1879 indicates a new and significant reorganization. It might be interesting to look more closely at these three catalogues in light of Pomian's semiophores and see what they can tell us about genre or classification at three different periods. More broadly, a collection and the way it is organized testify to different cultural and esthetic approaches, as well as to different representations of a social and symbolic world.

The first catalog is entitled Repertorio di tutta Musica (Repertory of all the music) and is divided in two parts. The first one lists all the music belonging to Leopoldo and to Lucrezia. The works are divided into vocal music and instrumental music. Shelf 1 contains four collections: fifty psalms by Benedetto Marcello, the oratorio II Sisra e Debora by P. A. Guglielmi, Haydn 's Creazione del mondo and various concerti e suonate. Shelves 2 and 3 contain motets and masses, and shelf 4 contains instrumental music. Lucrezia's collection is then listed again separately. Unfortunately, the authors do not explain its classification. On the basis of the facsimile page given in illustration, it looks like a unique continuous list (il items. The first interesting point is its title: it is repertory, not a catalog. The ward derives from the Latin reperire (to find again) and doubtlessly testifies to the practical aspect of Pietro and Lucrezia's respective collections. Both were constituted by musicians, and their purpose was to be used and not yet to be merely displayed as a collection. The division into vocal and instrumental music also points to this conclusion.

The second catalog bears, unfortunately, neither a title nor a date. It was made after the reorganization of the collection onto two bookcases (one indicated by letter A, the second by B) in 1831. The first bookcase contains prints and manuscripts of secular vocal music (including operas, none of which were to be found in the first inventory). The second bookcase contains sacred and instrumental music. Weaver convincingly explains that Cabinet A probably contained the Ricasoli Firidolli library, and Cabinet B the Ricasoli Zanchini library, with a few transfers. This new organization does not disrupt the original conception of the collection; it mostly enlarges it and disposes it in a different place. The classification is still according to musical practices and genres.

The last catalog, dated 1879, is the one that abandons Pietro Leopoldo's original classification to reorder the music according three different genres: secular music (musica profana), sacred music (musica sacra), and method (metodi, lezioni). It is also the classification followed by Weaver in his catalog, but with added information about the items location in the two former inventories whenever possible. It is highly interesting to note that this inventory is entitled Indice dell'Archivio di musica esistente nel Palazzo Ricasoli (Index of the music existing in Palazzo Ricasoli). Etymologically, the point of view has now completely changed. Index, from the same word in Latin (forefinger), means "to show." If the former inventories were made in order to find and play (or study) the music, this one is clearly made to show and to display a collection. It is also no longer the private collection of one member of the family but a set of various collections acquired through history and put together. Moreover the collection is now organized in a complete different manner, no longer according to the repertory as before, but according to broader cultural distinctions (secular and sacred), selling apart the instructional books. It at first the music preserved in the collection Was intended for die ears, in its last reorganization it has become the sign of an invisible symbolic world, intended now (or the eyes.


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Author:Jeanneret, Christine
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 18, 2013
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