UCLA Center for the Study of Women
Pain, Desire, and Unattainable Ecstasy in Alba Tressina’s Vulnerasti cor meum
- Author(s): Johnson, Lindsay
- et al.
Little is known about the seventeenth-century musician and composer Alba Tressina, and even less is known about her musical career, since only four of her compositions survive. She was a Clarissan nun at the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in the city of Vicenza, 60 kilometers west of Venice, and through the years of her stay there she rose in the monastic hierarchy to become abbess of her house. She studied music and composition with Leone Leoni, who published four of her pieces in one of his numerous books of motets. This joint publishing effort is the reason why we can discuss Tressina and her musical abilities today, for the only extant works we have of hers are those that appeared in this book. It is also because of this book of motets that we know of Tressina’s talent for musical rendition, which Leoni references in his dedication. Therein he mentions her “melodious voice” and the “graces of [her] noble compositions.” He finishes the dedication with a reference to how, when she performs these works, she gives them spiritual life, making them “breathe celestial harmony.”