Music at I Tatti

Since the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies was established in 1961, musical programs have included public concerts, intimate recitals for the community, performances by musicians in residence and, more recently, an annual keyboard masterclass for talented young musicians.

Music has long played a part in the cultural life of I Tatti. Otto Klemperer, Yehudi Menuhin, Igor Markevitch, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Gaspar Cassadò, Louis Kentner, Roger Sessions, and Kathleen Ferrier were amongst Berenson’s distinguished guests, and their letters are preserved with the Bernard and Mary Berenson PapersThe Morrill Music Library is generally considered the finest reference library for medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music in Italy. 

Musicologists are a vital part of the academic community each year and bring with them an in-depth understanding of Renaissance music and its forms. During academic year 2017/2018 year we are joined by Fellows Cecilia Nocilli, whose project is entitled 'The «Fondo Andrea Francalanci» and fifteenth century dance music: Renaissance and postmodern theory and performance practice'; Jesse Rodin, working on 'Giving Form to Fifteenth-Century Music'; and Emily Wilbourne, working on 'Opera's Others: Musical Representations of Racialized Difference in Baroque Italy.' We are also joined by Graduate Fellow Alana Mailes, who will research 'English Musicians in the Italian Peninsula', and Visiting Professor Julie Cumming, who focuses on 'Musical sources for the origin of the Italian madrigal.'

The Villa is the proud possessor of an historic Knabe grand piano dated ca.1885, which belonged to Hans von Bulow and which Berenson bought from his heirs. Documented in photographs of Yehudi Menuhin playing in the Berenson studiolo accompanied by his son Jeremy, it is still enjoyed by visiting musicians today. I Tatti also owns a fine harpsichord by Ugo Casiglia, based on the Giovanni Battista Giusti of 1693 in the Smithsonian Institute and generously commissioned and donated by Frederick Hammond (VIT 1972), and a Steinway piano which previously belonged to F.Gordon & Elizabeth Morrill. The first formal concert at Villa I Tatti was given by Ralph Kirkpatrick, who played his clavichord in the library in 1933.

Recent concerts have featured music and performances by Jordi Savall, Gavin Bryars, Singer Pur, and Ensemble Voces Suaves.