Tarquinia Molza

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by Penelope Whitworth

Tarquinia Molza (1542-1617) Italian virtuosa singer who was a notable courtier, celebrated musician and acclaimed intellectual of her time.  In addition to performing, she was probably an instructor and advisor to the concerto delle donne of the court of Ferrara where she was a lady-in-waiting to the Duchess, Margherita Gonzaga-Este.[1] In 1589 she was dismissed because of a relationship, of which she always maintained was just a close friendship, with the Flemish composer and Mantuan maestro di cappella Giaches de Wert .[2]

She was exceptionally well-educated for a woman.  Her father took care that she followed the same education as her brothers.  She was taught language, science, composition, belles-lettres, rhetoric, mathematics, poetry, logic, philosophy, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Tuscan, vocal and instrumental music and theology.  She wrote prose and poems in Latin and madrigal lyrics in Tuscan.  She translated from Latin and Greek.[3]

Hilarion de Coste writes that in 1601 the city of Rome conferred upon her and her descendants the freedom of the city, an honour unprecedented among her sex.   Peter Paul de Ribera de Valentiano affirmed her reputation for beauty, learning and virtue.[4]

 

[1] Marie Caruso.  “Molsa, Tarquinia,” Mary Hays, Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries (1803). Chawton House Library Series: Women’s Memoirs, ed. Gina Luria Walker, Memoirs of Women Writers Part II (Pickering & Chatto: London, 2013), vol. 9, 501-06, editorial notes, 589-90, on 590.

[2] Caruso.  “Molsa, Tarquinia,” vol. 9, 501-06, editorial notes, 589-90, on 589.

[3] Mary Hays, “Tarquinia Molsa,” Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women of all Ages and Countries (6 volumes) (London: R. Phillips, 1803), vol. 5, 499-504, on 500.

[4] Hays, Female Biography, vol. 5, 499-504, on 503.

 

Bibliography

Bayle, P. The dictionary historical and critical of Mr. Peter Bayle…London : Printed for J.J. and P. Knapton [etc.], 1734-1738.

Biographium faemineum. The female worthies; or, Memoirs of the most illustrious ladies, of all ages and nations, who have been eminently distinguished for their magnanimity, learning, genius, virtue, piety, and other excellent endowments … Containing (exclusive of foreigners) the lives of above fourscore British ladies … Collected from history, and the most approved biographers, and brought down to the present time …  Imprint London, Printed for S. Crowder, and J. Payne [etc.] 1766.

Caruso, Marie. “Molsa, Tarquinia.” Mary Hays, Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries (1803). Chawton House Library Series: Women’s Memoirs, ed. Gina Luria Walker, Memoirs of Women Writers Part II. Pickering & Chatto: London, 2013, vol. 9, 501-06, editorial notes, 589-90.

Coste, H. Eloges et Vies des reynes, princesses, dames et damoiselles illustres en Piété, Courage et Doctrine, qui ont fleury de nostre temps, et du temps de nos Peres, tome second. Paris: Sebastien and Gabriel Cramoisy, 1647.

Hays, Mary. “Tarquinia Molsa.” Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women of all Ages and Countries (6 volumes). London: R. Phillips, 1803, vol. 5, 499-504.

Newcombe, A. The Madrigal at Ferrara 1579-1597, vol. 1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Patrizi, F. L’amorosa filosofia, edited by J. C. Nelson. Florence: Felice Le Monnier, 1963.

Ribera, P. Le Glorie immortali de’ Trionfi, & Heroiche imprese d’ottocento quaranta cinque Donne illustri antiche, e modern, dotate di conditioni e scienze segnalate: Cosi in sacra Scritura, Theologia, Profetta, Filosofia, Retorica, Grammatica, Medicina, Astrologia, Leggi Civii, Pitura, Musica, Armi, & in altre virtu principali. Venezia, 1609. 

Riley, J. Tarquinia Molza (1542-1617): ‘A Case Study of Women, Music, and Society in the Renaissance’, in The Musical Woman,  edited by J. Zaimont, C. Overhauser, and J. Gottlieb, 470-493. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

 

Resources:

Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Tarquinia Molza
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/heritage_floor/tarquinia_molza.php

 

Page citation:
Penelope Whitworth. “Tarquinia Molza.” Project Continua (January 31, 2014): Ver. 1, [date accessed], http://www.projectcontinua.org/tarquinia-molza/

 

 

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