England and the Italian Renaissance: The Growth of Interest in its History and Art

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Why is that? An answer may lie in the history of the family itself.

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The Medici bank was brought to the forefront of the European economy by Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, who died in His son Cosimo was the richest man in Europe. Yet Cosimo did not earn his honorary title "Father of his country" through financial brilliance. He was given it because he used the wealth of the family business to reshape Florentine politics.


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That obsession with politics grew until the most powerful and charismatic Medici of all, Lorenzo the Magnificent , let the bank decay while he concentrated on running the Florentine state. It's a strange irony that Renaissance Florence was built by capitalist innovation, but went out of its way to make money invisible in its art.

Politics, not money, dominated this city's culture.

The Renaissance: The 'Rebirth' of Science & Culture

The ultimate beneficiary of Medici patronage was Michelangelo, who shared both the Medici instinct for making money and the Medici determination to ignore it. His Moses really has loftier things than money in mind. The absence of financial imagery in Florentine Renaissance art may even explain why the city went into cultural decline after The later Medicis completed the change from merchants to aristocrats and even royals.

As they made themselves Dukes of Tuscany and intermarried with European royal families, the art and architecture of Florence gradually lost its edge. The moral might be that if money makes art, snobbish disdain for money can kill it.


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Topics Painting Jonathan Jones on art. Art Michelangelo Heritage Florence holidays Italy holidays blogposts. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? The Burgundian court was especially influential, and it attracted composers and musicians from all over Europe.

The most important of these was Guillaume Du Fay — , whose varied musical offerings included motets and masses for church and chapel services, many of whose large musical structures were based on existing Gregorian chant. His many small settings of French poetry display a sweet melodic lyricism unknown until his era.

With his command of large-scale musical form, as well as his attention to secular text-setting, Du Fay set the stage for the next generations of Renaissance composers. By about , European art music was dominated by Franco-Flemish composers, the most prominent of whom was Josquin des Prez ca.

The exchange of musical ideas among the Low Countries, France, and Italy led to what could be considered an international European style. On the one hand, polyphony or multivoiced music, with its horizontal contrapuntal style, continued to develop in complexity. At the same time, harmony based on a vertical arrangement of intervals, including thirds and sixths, was explored for its full textures and suitability for accompanying a vocal line.

Josquin, like Du Fay, composed primarily Latin masses and motets, but in a seemingly endless variety of styles.

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Italian Renaissance - Wikipedia

His secular output included settings of courtly French poetry, like Du Fay, but also arrangements of French popular songs, instrumental music, and Italian frottole. With the beginning of the sixteenth century, European music saw a number of momentous changes. In , a Venetian printer named Ottaviano Petrucci published the first significant collection of polyphonic music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton A. Prior to , all music had to be copied by hand or learned by ear; music books were owned exclusively by religious establishments or extremely wealthy courts and households.

After Petrucci, while these books were not inexpensive, it became possible for far greater numbers of people to own them and to learn to read music.

Florence, Italy: Renaissance Art and Architecture

At about the same period, musical instrument technology led to the development of the viola da gamba , a fretted, bowed string instrument. Amateur European musicians of means eagerly took up the viol, as well as the lute , the recorder , the harpsichord in various guises, including the spinet and virginal , the organ , and other instruments.

The viola da gamba and recorder were played together in consorts or ensembles and often were produced in families or sets, with different sizes playing the different lines. The sixteenth century saw the development of instrumental music such as the canzona, ricercare, fantasia, variations, and contrapuntal dance-inspired compositions, for both soloists and ensembles, as a truly distinct and independent genre with its own idioms separate from vocal forms and practical dance accompaniment.

England and the Italian Renaissance : the growth of interest in its history and art /

The musical instruments depicted in the studiolo of Duke Federigo da Montefeltro of Urbino ca. The musical instruments are placed alongside various scientific instruments, books, and weapons, and they include a portative organ, lutes, fiddle, and cornetti; a hunting horn; a pipe and tabor; a harp and jingle ring; a rebec; and a cittern. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation directly affected the sacred polyphony of these countries.

The Protestant revolutions mainly in Northern Europe varied in their attitudes toward sacred music, bringing such musical changes as the introduction of relatively simple German-language hymns or chorales sung by the congregation in Lutheran services.