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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Italian Baroque Music in Malta: A Madrigal from the Music Archives at the Cathedral Museum in Mdina

  • Author(s): Sansone, Matteo
  • et al.

The Mdina Cathedral Museum in Malta owns the most important collection of Italian baroque music south of Naples. The collection consists mostly of sacred music since it originated in the archives of the music chapel in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but there are also secular compositions reflecting the tastes of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who made their home on the island from 1530 to 1798. The museum’s musical holdings consists of 159 printed works by Italian seventeenth-century composers and over 600 manuscripts, some anonymous, of Italian and Maltese music. The number (33) of unique works, editions, or partbooks adds interest to the fund and makes it relevant to the history of Italian music with regard to the activity of music publishers – Roman, Venetian and Sicilian, in particular – who found in Malta a profitable market for their exports. The edition of a manuscript madrigal for tenor, bass and harpsichord continuo by a lesser Sicilian composer, Filippo Muscari, evidences the widespread, early baroque fashion for madrigalian duets started by Northern Italian composers such as Monteverdi and Grandi whose works are present in the Maltese collection.

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