Warrior, Courtier, Singer
Giulio Cesare Brancaccio and the Performance of Identity in the Late Renaissance
Giulio Cesare Brancaccio was a Neapolitan nobleman with long practical experience of military life, first in the service of Charles V and later as both soldier and courtier in France and then at the court of Alfonso II d'Este at Ferrara. He was also a virtuoso bass singer whose performances were praised by both Tasso and Guarini - he was even for a while the only male member of the famous Ferrarese court Concerto delle dame, who established a legendary reputation during the 1580s. Richard Wistreich examines Brancaccio's life in detail and from this it becomes possible to consider the mental and social world of a warrior and courtier with musical skills in a broader context. A wide-ranging study of bass singing in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Italy provides a contextual basis from which to consider Brancaccio's reputation as a performer. Wistreich illustrates the use of music in the process of 'self-fashioning' and the role of performance of all kinds in the construction of male noble identity within court culture, including the nature and currency of honour, chivalric virtÃ¹ and sixteenth-century notions of gender and virility in relation to musical performance. This fascinating examination of Brancaccio's social world significantly expands our understanding of noble culture in both France and Italy during the sixteenth century, and the place of music-making within it.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction. Part 1 Identity of a Performer: Napolitano y de buena casta; Sieur Jule Brancasse, gentilhomme ordinaire de la Chambre du Roy; Il piÃ¹ veterano tra' soldati. Part 2 Bass Song: Il basso del Brancazio; Per basso solo; Basso alla bastarda. Part 3 Performance of Identity: Poco preggio di soldato, ma anche di Corteggiano; Tra novelle sirene; Canti in dolce tenzon. Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
Richard Wistreich, Director of Research, Royal College of Music, London, UK
’This is well worth reading...’ Early Music Review ’To tell such a life's story demands that biographer be as versatile as subject, skilled in social and literary history, musicology, and archival research. Richard Wistreich, himself a world-class bass, deploys such skills and more in the book under review... a book at once rich in new documents and insightful interpretation.’ Renaissance Quarterly ’Wistreich’s accomplishment in this book is not only to provide a wealth of new documents and interpretation that adds to, and sometimes changes, what we think we know about mid- to late 16th-century music and performance practice, but also to spur on further research and musical experimentation, and to provide an effective alternative model for musical biography.’ Early Music ’... in the course of this fascinating biography, Wistreich has made significant contributions not only to our understanding of the performance of sixteenth-century repertories, but to larger issues of the role of music in culture and, indeed, of culture in music. That the means to these ends turns out to be a real page-turner is a bonus we don’t often get in musicology.’ Notes ’... [an] innovative and well-crafted biography ... this book makes a major contribution to cultural and social history, musicology, and gender studies, demonstrating how musical practice and especially vocal virtuosity interacted with other aspects of male noble identity in the late Renaissance.’ Sixteenth Century Journal 'Wistreich's biography provides an important corrective to musicologists' usual view: singing came low in Brancaccio's list of priorities as an honorable nobleman and he saw himself first and foremost as a warrior. ...This significant book will obviously appeal to musicologists, but it should also interest anyone working on performance of gender and class in the early modern period.' Renaissance Studies