Barber-musicians in the Mediterranean, ca. 1400–ca.1500
Camilla Cavicchi is a musicologist at the Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, France. She has taught at the universities of Bologna, Montpellier, and Bruxelles. She has published on musical iconography, organology, the history of musical institutions in the Renaissance, and orally transmitted musical repertoires. Her doctoral dissertation documents the life of the French composer Maistre Jhan (1512–1538). She takes a multidisciplinary approach to researching the history of music in Renaissance Europe and the Mediterranean, drawing from the archives, prosopography, music iconography, organology and ethnomusicology, and focusing on three major fields: court music, and regional and popular traditions.
Before becoming renowned as a musician, one of the most famous lutenists of the fifteenth century, Pietrobono dal Chitarrino, was a barber. He formed part of a long line of barber-musicians spanning the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries, as the biographies of several instrumentalists, singers, and composers attest. Barbers contributed to the musical activities of confraternities, as singers, instrument players, and composers. They were also cantastorie, music printers, and teachers of music and dance. This project aims to document barbers’ musical practices and their distribution across the Mediterranean, and to shed new light on their role in society as well as on their function in the transmission of musical knowledge. This case offers an excellent opportunity to investigate a type of musician typical of the Mediterranean area who worked and travelled widely, operating as a mediator between social classes.