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Cardinal Pietro Bembo by Titian (Photo credit: Wiki2.org.)

One of my readers asked about the Petrarchan movement.  So I thought I would answer her question in a short post.

Wikipedia has the necessary information in its entry on Cardinal Pietro Bembo (20 May 1470 – either 11 January or 18 January, 1547).


To put it in a nutshell, Pietro Bembo encouraged musicians to set to music texts written in Italian, rather than Latin.  By then, there were many excellent writers in Italy and, although there were various forms of Italian, Venice-born Bembo liked the Italian spoken in Florence, Tuscany.  Petrarch was a Florentine poet and a friend of Francesco Landini, the first writer of madrigals (madrigal means from mother tongue).  Petrarch was a perfect source.

The same thing happened in France.  In 1549, poet Joachim du Bellay (c. 1522 – 1 January 1560)  published a Défense et illustration de la langue françaiseIn his eyes, French had come of age.

As for Pietro Bembo, in 1525, he wrote Prose della volgar lingua (Discussions of the Vernacular [language spoken by the people] Language), in which he advocated the use of Italian.

Bembo had other theories, including one regarding the link between speech and the emotions (the affekte, in German).

There is a type face called “Bembo.”  Pietro Bembo so liked to imitate Petrarch that imitation of Petrarch became known as bembismo.

Bembo was a scholar and very persuasive.

Francesco Landini  — Madrigal


Francesco Landini — Ecco la primavera

Landini playing a portative organ(illustration from the 15th-century Squarcialupi Codex)

© Micheline Walker
6 December 2011