1st Edition

The Bassanos Venetian Musicians and Instrument Makers in England, 1531–1665

By David Lasocki, Roger Prior Copyright 1995

    In the 1530s, five Bassano brothers, who were outstanding wind players and instrument makers, emigrated from Venice to England. Dr Lasocki’s authoritative new book, the first to be devoted to the family, is a minutely researched account of these brothers, their sons (and a daughter) and their grandsons. The first half of the book discusses the everyday affairs of the family - their relationships, religion, property, law suits, finances, and standing in society. Two chapters, one written by Roger Prior, are devoted to Emilia Bassano, whose identification as the ’dark lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets is supported by a wealth of evidence. The second half of the book discusses the family’s musical activities. At the English Court the Bassanos made up a recorder consort that lasted 90 years; they also played in the flute/cornett and shawm/sackbutt consorts. As instrument makers their fame was spread throughout Europe. The book’s appendixes present information on the Venetian branch of the family and the musical activities of the English branch since 1665.

    Contents: Part One: Family Affairs: From Venice to England; The Charterhouse and After; The Second Generation; The Third Generation; Economic Affairs, Privileges and Social Standing; The Bassano’s Jewish Identity; Part Two: The Dark Lady: Emilia Bassano and Alphonso Lanier; Was Emilia Bassano the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s Sonnets?; Part Three: Musical Affairs: Performing I: The Court Recorder Consort; Performing II: Other Instruments; Composing; Instrument Making and Repairing; Part Four: Concluding: Reflections; Appendix I: Music and the English Bassanos after 1665; Appendix II: Jacomo and the Venetian Bassanos; Bibliography; Index.


    Prior, Roger

    ’ altogether a model of lucidity...through his command of his minutely researched material, his commitment to his subject, and his lively style, Lasocki suceeds in engaging his reader's attention....the music chapters on their own make this book worth while...intriguing and satisfying.’ Anthony Rowland-Jones, Leading Notes ’This is an extremely important contribution to our understanding of musical life in the English Court and I commend it without hesitation.... The wealth of information contained in this volume is reason enough for buying it.’ Historic Brass Society Journal ’A tour de force of historical investigation.’ The Consort ’David Lasocki’s excellent study provides a remarkable and detailed overview of this family. Lasocki writes in a fluid narrative style, with thorough detail and rigorous documentation.’ Notes ’The whole is thoroughly researched, and provides a valuable insight into how music at Court was organized’ Galpin Society Journal ’The importance of the Bassano family in English musical life means that no one who is interested in the broader subject can afford to ignore this important contribution.’ Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society ’Its a book that many of us know and which many of us admire, undoubtedly a major work of research and scholarship of the sort that we expect from these publishers, one that will become a mine for many other reseachers to quarry, and indeed one that already has so become.........the book teems with facts which give us a vast amount of information about musical life at the Tudor court...........if you don't already know the book, get it and read it, both to make your own mind up on these issues and because it is an essential historical record.’ FoMRHI Quarterly, No. 92