Fortuna disperata (Josquin) & Fui serrato nel dolore (Serafino von Aquila)

Fortuna disperata (Josquin) & Fui serrato nel dolore (Serafino von Aquila)

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Fortuna disperata 

Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/1455–1521) 

Fui serrato nel dolore (Barzeletta) 

Text: Serafino von Aquila (1466–1500)

Music: Bartolomeo Tromboncino (c. 1470–1535)

From «Ite, sospiri» 25.07.21

in the Barfüsserkirche, Basel Historical Museum



Elizabeth Rumsey – Viola d’arco

Marc Lewon – Lute

Masako Art – Harp

Jacob Lawrence – Tenor


Musical director: Elizabeth Rumsey

Live concert recording: Leonardo Bortolotto

Moderation: Grace Newcombe und Marc Lewon

Picture: Portrait of a man thought to be either Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere or the singer Serafino degli Aquilani. Raffaello Sanzio (1483–1520), Galleria Borghese, Rome. 


Fui serrato nel dolore  

con la morte a canto a canto.  

ha ha ha! Men rido tanto  

ch’io son uiuo e son di fuore! 

Viddi casa altiera e illustra  

che di fuor rende splendore,  

ma ogni arbor no dimustra  

per la scorza el suo ualore;  

perché drento con dolore  

pe sospira in ogni canto.  

Ha ha ha! Men rido tanto … 

Da mia sorte fui conducto 

in questa aspra e ria pregione 

fra color che han perso al tucto 

l’intellecto e la ragione; 

doue è gran confusïone, 

chiusa sta sotto un bel manto. 

Ha ha ha! Men rido tanto … 

Trouai scripto ne l’intrata 

tal parol a lettre d’oro: 

«Qui di stento è gran derrata, 

crudeltate è mio thesoro, 

dono morte per ristoro, 

per seruitio, eterno pianto.» 

Ha ha ha! Men rido tanto … 

«O tu ch’entri in questa stanza, 

che hai la via smarrita e torta, 

lassa fore ogni speranza! 

Qui uirtú conuien sia morta. 

prima ch’entri in questa porta, 

ti dispoglia tutto quanto». 

Ha ha ha! Men rido tanto … 

Ne l’ntrar sij bene accorto, 

ché mai piú ritorni al passo. 

Gusterai d’un uiuer morto, 

d’un calar sempre piú basso, 

né mai piú ritroui el passo, 

forse non per uia de incanto. 

Ha ha ha! Men rido tanto … 

«Ite, sospiri ...»

The poetic voice of Serafino von Aquila (1466–1500)

Devoted follower of Petrarca and friend of Josquin des Prez, the poet and musician Serafino Aquilano was a luminary of his day, and his work was published for decades after his death. Yet with his legacy comes a certain melancholy; while his words and music can be found in collections made close to his lifetime, his fame was for the ephemeral art of improvisation. Even so, enough of his poetry and music survives to justify his fame and allow us a window into this flourishing Renaissance art. The common instruments of the time – harp, lute, viola – are the perfect accompaniment to 15th-century Strambotti and Barzellette, and a glimpse of the Italian humanists’ reverence for an Antique perspective is possible through the ethereal sound of the wire-strung Cetra and silver tone of the bowed Lira.

Serafino’s connections to Josquin des Prez are reasonably well documented; though Serafino was variously described as a friend of Josquin and as a student of Josquin, what is clear is that for some time they shared a musical circle, and both were employed by Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza in the 1480s.

(Cardinal Sforza was notoriously boorish towards his musicians; Serafino penned a sonetto in which he defended Josquin and obliquely criticised the cardinal. This was not his only foray into political commentary. A poetic diatribe in the form of an eclogue against the venality of the Pope’s court was probably the reason for his dismissal and subsequent departure from his position in Rome.)

For some more on Serafino and his music, see the VLOG from July 2021.

Or watch the livestream of the whole concert from 25.07.21.

We look forward to your comments, whether they be on Youtube or Facebook/Instagram,  or via .

The Video will be released each day at 17:15, with optional English subtitles.

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