Vittoria/Raffaella Aleotti


Italian composer and musician. There is some controversy as to whether this woman composer was in fact two sisters, or whether Vittoria Aleotti took the name Raffaella when she was ordained as a nun. All references to Rafaella are consistent with what is known of Vittoria: both are described as composers of both madrigals and motets, an exceptional organist and teacher in the convent, and a performer of both vocal and instrumental music in the homes of wealthy citizens of Ferrara. Vittoria is associated only with madrigals, and published nothing after 1593. Raffaella published only sacred music, commencing in 1593. While the matter cannot be considered settled, the more likely conclusion is both names identify the same person.

Vittoria appears to have had great natural talent: as a young child she was present while her older sister Beatrice was being given music lessons, and so astonished her father and the music teacher with what she absorbed that she was given music lessons of her own. At the age of six or seven she was sent to San Vito to continue her musical education, and by the age of fourteen had decided to become a nun. By then she had made so much progress in he study of music that her father asked Guarini for verses that the teenager set as four part madrigals know as the Ghirlanda. Her first published composition appeared in 1591, a single madrigal in an anthology of Ferrarese composers published by Giacomo Vincenti in Venice. In 1593 she published a somewhat stylistically conservative, but youthfully exuberant collection of twenty-one four-part madrigals. Thereafter she drops out of sight as Vittoria.

Raffaella also brought out a volums of vocal pieces in 1593: Sacrae cantiones quinque, septem, octo & decem vocibus decantande, the first sacred music by a woman to appear in print.

A Partial Vittoria/Raffaella Aleotti Discography | VA: Monody and the Vocal Concerto |  VG: Sacred Music in the Seicento | The Research Periods | Home