Italy had been the theatre of war for centuries. Political fragmentation ignited dynastic rivalries, carving out powerful autonomous city-states whose leaders amassed within their courts artists, musicians and writers in order to chronicle their military, religious and political vision. The musical depictions of patticular military exploits, or battaglia, became popular springboards for colourful, programmatic compositions. These works were often performed in public in order to garner support for campaigns. Originally a vocal genre whose distant relative can be traced back to the caccia, or hunting song, the battaglie were often transcribed for instruments, in particular the lute, thus supplying an already extensive repertoire with a framework for new, highly original compositions expressed through the delicate
idiosyncrasies of the most popular instrument. Battle pieces for solo lute found in both manuscript and published sources throughout Europe, and although they are rarely heard in concert today, they constitute a fascinating glimpse at an almost forgotten genre.
Aiden Deasy ro.ecu.edu.au