Rusca Spagnolo Francesco
Cantate, Toccate, Mottetti
The life of Francesco Spagnoli RuscaAfter years of oblivion, a recording has finally been made of the music of Francesco Spagnoli Rusca, an unquestionably significant musician for his compositional abilities, but who remains virtually unknown today. His vast production, entirely extant in manuscripts, is preserved in the Musical Archives of the Como Cathedral. Thanks to Luigi Picchi (Sairano, Pavia, 27-IX-1899; Como 12-VIII-1970), some of these works were transcribed, in accordance with the tastes of the 1960s, in the journal “Laus Decora” (Ed. Schola, Como, 1956 and 1960). This noble enterprise has failed, however, to draw sufficient attention to compositions of rare beauty and of certain interest to musicians and musicologists alike. The musical archives of the Como Cathedral number hundreds of manuscripts (both autograph copies and not) in large part attributable to Rusca: masses, psalms, cantatas, dialogues, motets, etc. , in addition to some instrumental works. This collection was probably Rusca’s bequest to the Jesuits together with a later donation which the Jesuits made to the cathedral prior to the suppression of the Society of Jesus, but this fact, too, is not documented with any certainty. Like most of the musicians connected to the Jesuits, Rusca does not seem to have published any of his compositions. Without question, the Society of Jesus played an important role in Rusca’s life. Certain stylistic elements recall Giacomo Carissimi, the composer linked with the Collegio Germanico Ungarico dei Gesuiti in Rome, some manuscripts of whose are found in Como. The same cathedral archives contain music by many other writers (A. Stradella, T. Merula, G. A. Grossi), which leads to the hypothesis that they originally belonged to the private library of our composer rather than to the actual repertoire of the chapel.