Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference 2015

  • Laura Ventura Nieto (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


'A Sight in Music': The Moral Ambiguities of Female Musical Education During the Early Modern Period

From the 1500s onwards, music education was considered a necessary subject in the humanist education of both male and female individuals. Baldessare Castiglione’s Il cortegiano (1528) had a great importance in the construction of the figure of the perfect male courtier and his female counterpart, the female courtier or donna di palazzo, a woman that had ‘a sight in letters, in musike, in drawinge or peinctinge, and skilfull in daunsinge’. A woman had to show artful accomplishments yet not risk any accusations of professionalism. If these women wanted to play the repertoire they were expected to, they had to undergo a training process that presupposed they needed a music teacher. Teachers were usually men and they had to spend a great amount of hours alone with their pupils, a situation that in this context had clear sexual connotations and could easily damage a young woman’s reputation. This paper will discuss how female musical education was a dangerous situation for a woman’s reputation because it involved a kind of intimacy that was in direct opposition with their need to be chaste ladies as well as accomplished. Several contemporary sources that have been neglected by recent scholarship, such as Susanne van Soldt’s manuscript (1599; British Library, Add MS 29485) or Annibale Guasco’s Ragionamento a D. Lavinia sua figlioula (1586), will be analysed alongside several early-modern Dutch iconographical depictions commonly known as ‘music lessons’ to emphasise the mixed connotations music had during the early modern period when it was learned by women.
Period8 Jul 2015
Event typeConference
LocationBrussels, BelgiumShow on map