Maria Xaveria Perucona, Caterina Assandra, Isabella Leonarda, Bianca Maria Meda, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Rosa Giacinta Badalla, Claudia Sessa, Claudia Francesca Rusca
Music of Lombard Nuns in the 17th Century
In the mid-17th century, there were more than 6000 nuns in the Milanese diocese. These women were members of the patrician classes, especially in the better convents, and indeed monastic life was by far the more likely future for an upper-class girl. Moreover, the institution of " clausura", or complete and total enclosure, instituted with the Council of Trent in 1563, vastly limited nearly all contact between these women and the outside world. Thus, not surprisingly, music was an essential part of these women's lives, their "voice" in the world in a very literal sense. In addition, it should be pointed out that the musical chapels in the convents were secondary in neither size nor quality to those in male institutions. Nun's musical chapels were the largest and most important in Milan; and this, despite the many restrictions governing music making inside the convents imposed by the ecclesiastical authorities. The great difficulty which these musical nuns encountered is reflected perhaps above all in the fact that so little music has come down to us: in the case of Lombardy, one can count a mere eight nuns whose published works are extant.