Philippe Canguilhem

Philippe Canguilhem

Robert Lehman Visiting Professor
Music and Culture in Florence during the reign of Cosimo I


Philippe Canguilhem is Professor of Musicology at the University of Toulouse and a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. In the past, he was a fellow at Villa I Tatti (2005-6) and at the Italian Academy of Columbia University (2013). His work focuses on Italian music in the sixteenth century, with a special emphasis on Florentine musical life. He has published two books on this topic, Fronimo de Vincenzo Galilei (Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, 2001) and Andrea et Giovanni Gabrieli (Fayard, 2003). He is also interested in improvised counterpoint in the Renaissance, and has published an edition and translation of Vicente Lusitano's counterpoint treatises titled Chanter sur le livre à la Renaissance: Les traités de contrepoint de Vicente Lusitano (Brepols, 2013), and a book on polyphonic improvisation in the Renaissance, L'improvisation polyphonique à la Renaissance (Garnier, 2015).

Project Summary

This book project aims to appraise the role of music within the cultural and political life of Florence during the forty years that separate the fall of the last Florentine republic in 1530 from Cosimo de' Medici’s coronation as Grand Duke by Pope Pius V in 1570. The study includes institutional patronage and the musical life at court, as this reality emerged suddenly during the first decade of the duchy, whereas it was a consolidated tradition in other Italian courts. But confining the work to this aspect would only understate the significant role of music in the cultural experience of sixteenth-century Florence. Synthesizing a variety of musical, poetical, literary, archival, and iconographical sources, the project considers music as a social practice that can help us to understand how the Florentine networks of sociability radically changed during these years. Beyond a detailed study of the role of music within the Accademia fiorentina, the project aims at understanding how music participated in shaping the new Florentine court culture, especially in the last fifteen years of the period. It emphasizes the role of the courtiers in the creation of the intermedi and mascherate and the way they collaborated with the musicians in their realization. Finally, the project stresses the importance of musical practice among the Florentine nobility of the 1560s, which eventually led to the birth of amateur composition in Florence.