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Vice and the Villotta in the Sixteenth Century

Thu, March 26, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Hauptgebäude, Unter den Linden 6, Floor: Second Floor, 3059


The villotta, a genre of strophic song, usually celebrates lust: opposite sex, same sex, before marriage, after widowhood. In many ways, Filippo Azzaiolo’s three books of villotte (1557, 1559, 1569) are typical. What sets his apart is that the dedications to the first and third collections make claims about music’s power to stir men into action, its healing capacity, and its ability to promote contemplation of God. This seems at odds with musicologists’ traditional understanding of villotte as popularesque, lowbrow cultural productions, yet it seems humanist discourse and perhaps humanist lives allowed for a more nuanced understanding of virtue and vice.