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Che fai qui core?

3vv; contrafactum of Ben venga maggio
author of text
stanzas 1 & 9 of 10

Friar Girolamo Savonarola arrived in Florence in the early 1480s, and there became acquainted with the rich Florentine culture of lauda-singing. He responded by writing his own lauda texts, and copied them—along with passages of scripture and sermon notes—in a book for his personal use. The friar wrote his own text for the lauda Che fai qui core? and adopted the music of Poliziano’s Ben venga maggio. The same music had already been used for laudas written by Feo Belcari and Lucrezia Tornabuoni, mother of Lorenzo de’ Medici, so the friar was emulating a well-established Florentine tradition.

Savonarola rose to dominance in Florence’s political life after Lorenzo il Magnifico’s death in 1492. When the French army passed through Florence in late 1494, Lorenzo’s son Piero quickly ceded several strategic fortresses, and this so angered the citizens that they expelled the Medici. The friar filled the political vacuum by preaching fiery sermons in the cathedral, urging religious, social and political reforms. In addition to his prophecy-laden sermons, he gained credibility from the populace by taming the unruly boys of the city and gathering them into the cathedral before his sermons. Hundreds of boys would stand on wooden risers in the nave and sing laudas before the friar began preaching. In August 1496 the pharmacist Luca Landucci wrote in his diary that ‘there was such a feeling of grace in that church, and such sweetness in hearing those boys sing … that it did not appear to be something done by boys … Truly the church was full of angels.’ Landucci likely heard the boys sing Che fai qui core?, along with other laudas.

from notes by Patrick Macey © 2022


The Florentine Renaissance
CDA68349 Available Friday 7 January 2022


Track 19 on CDA68349 [1'44] Available Friday 7 January 2022

Track-specific metadata for CDA68349 track 19

Recording date
9 January 2020
Recording venue
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Ben Connellan
Hyperion usage
  1. The Florentine Renaissance (CDA68349)
    Disc 1 Track 19
    Release date: 7 January 2022
    Available Friday 7 January 2022
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