A 16th Century Publication Who-Dun-it: Gabrieli and Lassus, by Karen Linnstaedter Strange

A 16th Century Publication Who-Dun-it:
Exploring implications of the double attribution of the madrigal “Canzon se l’esser meco” to Andrea Gabrieli and Orlande de Lassus.

Karen Linnstaedter Strange, MM

A Double Attribution

Why was a single setting of “Canzon se l’esser meco” published in 1584 and 1589 under different composers’ names? For centuries, music history has ascribed this setting of a text from a Petrarchan madrigale to either Orlande de Lassus or Andrea Gabrieli, depending on the publication. It has been assumed the two original publications contain distinct creations of “Canzon se l’esser meco,” and to support this confusion, slight differences in notation between the two modern editions induce an initial perception that the two pieces differ. (See Figures 1A & 1B.). With a few moments of comparison, one can see that the madrigal published under Orlande de Lassus’ name in 1584 is the same piece attributed to Andrea Gabrieli by a different publisher five years later. In fact, no difference exists in the original publications beyond incidental choices by the two
publishers, such as the number of notes printed per line and the notation for repeated accidentals.

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