Earlier in the week, there was an excellent article in the Guardian by musicologist, Laurie Stras, about a new album that she has just released: Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter: Princess, Nun, Musician (Obsidian) (see comments) . The music is now believed to have been composed by Lucrezia Borgia’s daughter, Leonora D’Este (1515- 75), who was the abbess at a convent in Ferrara. Stras quotes Virginia Woolf: ”Anonymous was a woman”. If Stras’s findings are accurate, in this case, Anon was a nun.
It makes a lot of sense. At that time It was not considered very genteel to be a composer, so aristocrats would write anonymously. Oddly enough, entering a convent offered great possibilities for a young woman of noble birth. Instead of being a potential bride who could be used to seal a political alliance for her family, she could retreat to a life of tranquillity and concentrate on music. And we all know what a conniving, Game-of-Thronesy bunch the Borgias were. Leonara was well off out of it.
The polyphonic compositions on the album are magnificent but not everybody was so keen. Some bishops banned polyphonic performances by nuns. Such was the beauty of the music, they felt performing » Continue Reading.