Text Size

 

PDF

GODI, FIRENZE: THE FLORENTINE CONQUEST OF PISA CELEBRATED IN SONG

Anthony M. Cummings

 

The early-Quattrocento madrigal “Godi, Firenze” by the composer Abbot Paolo da Firenze celebrates the 1406 Florentine conquest of Pisa. The event was a military victory, surely, but the text of the madrigal paraphrases Dante’s Inferno (“Take joy, oh Florence, for you are so great / your wings beat over land and sea, / your fame resounds through Hell!”), which suggests that the poet and composer intended to convey metaphorically that Florentine superiority over Pisa was not only military in nature, but also cultural and literary: a quotation from Florence’s great national poet is a celebration of Florentine literary preeminence. The madrigal is further contextualized: Paolo’s biography is recapitulated; his status as a composer-ecclesiastic explained; Florentine poetic practice is described; and Paolo’s other political madrigals are elucidated. There is a complete list of Paolo’s extant compositions; a transcription into modern notation of a portion of “Godi, Firenze”; and a contemporary image of Abbot Paolo.