Chiara Margarita Cozzolani

(1602 - ca. 1678)

Italian composer. Cozzolani was a Benedictine nun who lived her entire adult life within the walls of the convent of Santa Radegonda, located across the street from the Milan Cathedral. Born into a wealthy Milanese family, she may have received her early musical training from members of the well-known Rognoni family, who were instrumental and vocal teachers in the city. Like her sister, aunt, and nieces, Cozzolani took her vows in her late teens. Her four publications appeared between 1640 and 1650. Later, she served as prioress and abbess at S. Radegonda, helping to guide the house through troubled times in the 1660's when it came under attack from the strict Archbishop Alfonso Litta, who wanted to limit the nuns' practice of music and other 'irregular' contact with the outside world. Cozzolani disappears from the convent's lists between 1676 and 1678,

The fame of Cozzolani and her house is perhaps most evident in this excerpt from an urban panegyric, the Ateneo dei letterati milanesi (Milan, 1670), penned by a contemporary, Filippo Picinelli: "The nuns of Santa Radegonda of Milan are gifted with such rare and exquisite talents in music that they are acknowledged to be the best singers of Italy. They wear the Cassinese habits of [the order of] St. Benedict, but (under their black garb) they seem to any, listener to be white and melodious swans, who fill hearts with wonder, and rapture tongues in their praise. Among these sisters, Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani merits the highest praise, Chiara [Cozzolani's religious name, literally 'clear'] in name but even more so in merit, and Margarita [literally 'a pearl'] for her unusual and excellent nobility of [musical] invention . . .". Cozzolani was only one of over a dozen nuns in seventeenth-century Italy who published their music, but the ongoing tributes to her and to the musical culture of her house are remarkable on any count.

An accomplished composer, she published several collections of motets and concerti.

A Partial Chiara Margarita Cozzolani Discography | VG: Sacred Music in the Seicento