Sunday, September 6, 2015

Francesco Landini - Non avra ma' pieta questa mia Donna

On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus' fleet of three small ships set sail from the Canary Islands.  The islands were the furthest outreach of Europe.  The ships pointed their bows towards the west, and history was changed.

The fleet was Spanish, but Columbus was Italian.  He was from Genoa, an independent city-state that was one of the great seafaring powers of the day - indeed, Columbus' resume started with his city of origin.

It's entirely unknown what music would have sailed with the fleet -almost certainly a rough seaman's music of easily portable instruments.  However, the music of this era - the transition from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance - has come down to us.

Francesco Landini was the most famous musician of his day, dating from about fifty years before Columbus.  A Florantine, his music would have been well known in Genoa, and Columbus as an educated man would have been familiar with it.  Landini's work was almost entirely secular, and the religious Columbus may or may not have approved.  But given the simplicity of the arrangement, it's possible that this or something very like it might have been heard on the ships as they sailed towards destiny.

Bootnote: If you have an interest in Columbus' voyage, I cannot recommend more highly Samuel Elliot Morrison's magnificent book on the subject, Admiral Of The Ocean Sea.


ASM826 said...

If I was Sioux, Cherokee, Crow, Lumbee, or any other of the hundreds of tribes, I would celebrate this like the Jews celebrate Kristallnacht.

2cents said...

One might, if one were so inclined, ask Borepatch, what his 13th great grandfather did upon seeing a Native American for the very first time when he a few other hearty individuals (otherwise known as zealous idiots and I can say that cuz one of mine was in the same boat right beside him) were rowing ashore in Plymouth in 1620....

libertyman said...

More musical and historical enlightenment. Many thanks from lakeside in southern Maine today.