Music for Machiavelli (2019)

'Music for Machiavelli, a Folger Consort performance, took place September 27-29 2019. Perhaps best known as the author of The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli walked the streets of Florence 500 years ago. He was a true Renaissance man–a philosopher, playwright, diplomat, and a poet. Along with the carnival songs Machiavelli wrote for the Medici family and music for his comedic stage play The Mandrake, Folger Consort performed works by Francesco Bendusi, Josquin des Prez, Heinrich Isaac, and native composers of Northern Italy. For more information on this past event, please visit the event page.


A Collections pop-up exhibition in support of the performance was curated by Greg Prickman, the Eric Weinmann Librarian and Director of Collections, and took place prior to the performance run, on September 25 at 6pm, along with a discussion by Folger Director Michael Witmore and Dr. Christopher Celenza, Dean of Georgetown College at Georgetown University, on Machiavelli and his iconic political treatise, The Prince. Following the discussion, Greg Prickman guided attendees through a selection of items from the Folger collections related to Machiavelli, The Prince, and early sixteenth-century Italy.


Folger Consort

Artistic Directors

  • Robert Eisenstein: viol, violin
  • Christopher Kendall: lute

Guest artists

  • Lawrence Lipnik: viol
  • Emily Noël: soprano
  • Daniel Meyers: recorder, flute, pipe and tabor, bagpipe, percussion
  • Mark Rimple: lute
  • Mary Springfels: viol

Folger Consort Program

Musical settings from Machiavelli’s La Mandragola (The Mandrake) by Philippe Verdelot: Chi non fa prova, Amore ; O dolce notte.

Anonymous Florentine works from around the year 1500: Venus, Juno, Pallas ; Canto de’ diavoli (text by Machiavelli)

Works by Heinrich Isaac: Canto delle dèe (Nè pìu bella di queste) ; Quis dabit capiti meo quam? ; Sancte Petre - Ora pro nobis ; Palle, palle ; Alla battaglia

Works by Alexander Agricola: Pater meus Agricola est ; Comme femme

A selection of music from the earliest Italian collection of ensemble dances, Francesco Bendusi’s Opera nova de balli, printed in 1533.

Individual arrangements of the popular Florentine tune, Fortuna desperata, by Alexander Agricola, Heinrich Isaac, Johannes Martini, and Josquin des Pres

Other works from Renaissance Florence: Canto d’amanti disperati e di dame by Niccolò Machiavelli; Meyor d’este jon ày by Bartolomeo degli Organi; Canzona de’ naviganti (“Contrar’i venti”) by Alessandro Coppini; Iesù, sommo conforto (text by Girolamo Savonarola) by Paolo Scoto; In te, Domine, speravi by Josquin des Pres

Folger Collections Items included in Pop-Up

1) Neville, Henry, 1620-1694
A true copy of a letter : written by N. Machiavill, in defence of himself, and his religion.
London: R. Bentley, 1691
Call Number: 154- 772q

2) Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
Florence: Bernardo di Giunta, 10 November, 1531
Call Number: 166- 897q

3) Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
Le prince de Nicolas Machiauelle secretaire et citoien de Florence / traduit d’italien en françoys par Guillaume Cappel.
Paris: Charles Estienne, 1553
Call Number: 234- 368q

4) Unknown
The atheisticall polititian or A briefe discourse concerning Ni. Machiavell.
[London]: [1642]
Call Number: Wing A4109

5) Unknown
Nicolaus Machiavelus Florentin, supremum per te nacta est prudentia ... [graphic]
[S.I.]: [s.n.], [s.d.]
Call Number: Art Vol. a12 no. 58

6) Castiglione, Baldassarre, conte, 1478-1529
Il libro del cortegiano
Venice: Aldo Romano and Andrea d’Asola, 1528
Call Number: BJ1604 .C4 1528 Cage

7) Unknown
[A] caveat for wives to love their husbands or, Pleasant news from hell. : Written in Italian by that grand politician Nicholas Machiavel and now translated into English for a Christmas-gigg.
London: 1660
Call Number: Wing M132.5

8) Erasmus, Desiderius, -1536
Institutio principis Christiani saluberrimis referta praeceptis
Basel: Johann Froben, 1516
Call Number: PA8517 .I5 1516 Cage

9) Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
Il principe...
Rome: Antonio Blado d'Asola, 4 January 1532
Call Number: Bd. w. PQ4627 .M2 H5 1532 Cage

10) Rohan, Henri, duc de, 1579-1638
A treatise of the interest of the princes and states of Christendome
London: Ric. Hodgkinsonne, 1641
Call Number: Wing R1868

11) Gentillet, Innocent, ca.1535-ca.1595
A discourse vpon the meanes of vvel governing and maintaining in good peace, a kingdome, or other principalitie.
London: Adam Islip, 1602
Call Number: STC 11743 copy 1

12) James I, King of England, 1566-1625
Basilikon dōron. Or His Maiesties instructions to his dearest sonne, Henry the prince.
London: E. Allde for E. VV[hite] and others of the company of the Stationers, 1603
Call Number: STC 14354 copy 1

13) Willymat, William, -1615
A princes looking glasse, or A princes direction, very requisite and necessarie for a Christian prince, to view and behold himselfe in...
[Cambridge]: John Legat, 1603
Call Number: STC 14357

14) Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
Machiavels discourses. upon the first decade of T. Livius translated out of the Italian...
London: Thomas Paine for William Hills and Daniel Pakeman, 1636
Call Number: STC 17160 copy 2

15) Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
The arte of warre, written first in Italia[n] by Nicholas Machiauell, and set forthe in Englishe by Peter Whitehorne...
[London]: [Printed by John Kingston for] Niclas Inglande, [1562 (April)]
Call Number: STC 17164

16)Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
[Works. Selections]
In Palermo [i.e. London] : Appresso gli heredi d’Antoniello degli Antonielli [i.e. John Wolfe], a xxviij. di Gennaio, 1584.
Note: Imprint is false; in fact printed in London by John Wolfe (STC).
Call Number: STC 17167

17)Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
Nicholas Machiavel’s Prince· : Also, the life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca...
London: R. Bishop, for Wil: Hils, 1640
Call Numner: STC 17168 copy 1

18) Breton, Nicholas, 1545?-1626
The vncasing of Machiuils instructions to his sonne : vvith the answere to the same.
London: [John Beale] for Thomas Bushell, 1613
Call Number: STC 3704.3

19) Drake, William, Sir
Notebook of Sir William Drake [manuscript]
Late 1630s-to late 1650s
Call Number: V.a.263
Selected Images from V.a.263

20) Drummond, David, active 1604-1629 Gratulatio epainetikē [manuscript]
1604 May 20
Call Number: V.a.604