Giovanni da Cascia,
also Jovannes de Cascia, Johannes de Florentia, Maestro
Giovanni da Firenze, was an Italian composer of the
medieval era, active in the middle of the fourteenth
Virtually nothing is known
about Giovanni's life. From his surname it is presumed that
he was born in the village of Cascia, near Florence. It was
once thought that he held a post at Florence Cathedral, but
this is no longer accepted. A Florentine chronicle states
that Giovanni and Jacopo da Bologna competed at Mastino II
of Scala's court; Mastino died in 1351. The metaphors used
in his works are consistent with prevailing idioms of the
mid-14th century. His portrait in the Squarcialupi Codex
shows him without priestly garments.
Nineteen of Giovanni's
compositions survive, scattered in nine manuscripts. Sixteen
of these are madrigals, and three of them are cacce. He is
thought to have written some of his own texts. Musically,
Giovanni's madrigals are of importance in the development of
the style of the 14th-century madrigal.
He tends to use
extended melismas on the first and penultimate syllables of
a poetic line, and sometimes introduces hockets at these
points. The middles of the lines are generally syllabic.
Many of his works are very similar in style to the anonymous
works preserved in the Rossi Codex.
Several of his works
survive in quite different versions; this is evidence that
improvisation was still an important aspect of musical
performance up to this time. Giovanni's works tend not to be
tonally unified; they begin and end on different notes, and
in some cases, such as Nascoso el viso, each poetic line
begins and ends on different notes. Occasional imitation is
found in his work.
Editions of all of
Giovanni's works have been completed by W. Thomas Marrocco
and Nino Pirrotta in the twentieth century.