(b late 16th century; d before 1647). Italian humanist and writer on music. In 1640, under the pseudonym of Giorgio Mazzaferro, he wrote a Discorso sopra la musica antica, e moderna (in I-Rli). In the wake of the Florentine Camerata he here proclaimed the superiority of ancient music, in which poetry and music were one, over modern music, where such unity had been lost: in the former, ‘the poetry was sung simply, in a way consistent with its nature, so that everyone could understand and appreciate the words, rhythm and metre of the poetry’, whereas in the latter, vocal music had been ‘crippled’ by the introduction of imitation, canons, ‘strained passages’ and ‘repetitions’. One of the many ‘imperfections’ of modern music was that it had become more than ever ‘soft and lascivious’. Ancient music ‘had its rules, which no-one might violate, so that its propriety and fitting processes might be preserved’. From such a moralistic posture he deplored the spread of the new monodic style to liturgical, or at least church, music: a most serious defect was that there was no difference between ‘a song serenading a lady and one serving to honour God in church, a despicable abuse unworthy of Christian virtue’. Pietro della Valle, to whom the Discorso was cryptically addressed, replied to Farfaro’s criticisms with Note … nel Discorso sopra la musica antica e moderna (in I-Vnm) and Farfaro replied in turn with Risposta alle Note … nel Discorso della musica antica e moderna, which is lost.
A.Solerti: ‘Lettere inedite sulla musica di Pietro della Valle a G.B. Doni ed una veglia drammatica-musicale del medesimo’, RMI, xii (1905), 271–338, esp. 293, 312
A.Ziino: ‘Pietro della Valle e la “musica erudita”: nuovi documenti’, AnMc, no.4 (1967), 97–111, esp.100–01, 109–10
A.Ziino: ‘“Contese letterarie” tra Pietro della Valle e Nicolò Farfaro sulla musica antica e moderna’, NRMI, iii (1969), 101–20
Faria, Luiz Calixto da Costa e.
SeeCosta (i), (5).
(b Mantua, c1604; d Vienna, 1639). Italian violinist and composer. His Mantuan origins are referred to on the title pages of his five published books. Nothing is known of his musical education, but if he was the son of Luigi Farina of Casalmaggiore, Cremona, a ‘sonatore di viola’ who was known to have been in Mantua, in the service of the Gonzagas, at the beginning of the 17th century and to have married there in 1603 and taken Mantuan citizenship in 1606, he probably received his early musical training from his father. Mantua at that time was a particularly productive and stimulating environment for a young violinist, what with the presence of the virtuoso violinist Salamone Rossi and the important musical legacy of Claudio Monteverdi. Farina soon became very well known as a violinist, and in 1625 he was appointed Konzertmeister of the court of the Elector of Saxony, Johann Georg I, in Dresden, working directly under Heinrich Schütz. From 1625 to 1628 his name appears in connection with the most important activities at the Saxon court, including the festivities for the wedding of the elector’s daughter Sophia Eleonora and the Landgrave Georg II of Henssen-Darmstadt (Torgau, spring 1627). Farina played a leading role both in the music for the wedding banquet and in the performance of Schütz’s Dafne, composed for the occasion. A brief reference to these events can be found in the eighth galliard of Il terzo libro delle pavane … (1627), which the composer recalls as having been played and sung on that occasion to a eulogistic text, in all likelihood now lost. The straitened circumstances of the Dresden court, resulting from the Thirty Years War, meant that Farina’s work there was interrupted in 1628; the following year he was replaced by the Mantuan violinist Francesco Castelli. After returning to Italy, Farina was engaged in the autumn of 1631 as a violinist in the chapel of Madonna della Steccata, Parma, but he did not remain there after 1632. In September 1635 he took part in the musical celebrations for the feast of S Croce in Lucca, probably as first violin, and at the end of that year he left Italy permanently. He moved again to northern Europe, first to Danzig, where he played in the municipal orchestra between 1636 and 1637, and then, from 1638, to Vienna, where he was in the service of the Empress Eleonora I. He remained there until his death in 1639, probably at the end of July.
All of Farina’s music, almost entirely for instruments of the violin family, was published in Dresden during his years there. It consists of five printed volumes made up mostly of three- and four-part dance pieces and, to a much lesser extent, of two- and three-part sonatas, conzonas and sinfonias, as well as the famous Capriccio stravagante. The melodic and harmonic treatment of the parts in the dance pieces is related to the consort music which developed in northern and central Germany in the first three decades of the 17th century under the influence of English musicians such as John Dowland, Daniel Norcombe, Thomas Simpson and William Brade. However, Farina’s writing is more complex and the virtuoso upper parts are clearly in a violin style.
In the ten sonatas which conclude the first, fourth and fifth books, Farina’s Italian background is more apparent, even though the use of variation and large-scale designs are a reminder of the environment in which they were conceived. The three-part sonatas, often characterized throughout by specific rhythmic figures, demonstrate little interest in contrapuntal development, favouring greater motivic variation and dialogue between the two violins, generally articulated through the rapid exchange of a given melodic fragment, alternated note for note between the upper voices (see La polaca, La capriola and La cingara). It is in the sonatas for violin and continuo that Farina displays his talents as a virtuoso violinist: rapid passages of demisemiquavers, double stopping (especially in ternary sections), quick, repeated notes, broken chords and the frequent use of upper registers (up to third position) make these sonatas the summit of violin technique of the day. In the sonatas La franzosina and La desperata he exploits the timbre of the G string to the full.
Farina’s sophisticated musical imagination is revealed in the four-part Capriccio stravagante (Ander Theil, 1627), which consists of a group of descriptive pieces linked by short dance-style sections. The pieces imitate the sounds of instruments and animals (cat, dog, hen, lyre, clarino, military drum, Spanish guitar, and so on), exploiting the violin’s potential in an innovative way by using expressive techniques such as glissando, pizzicato, tremolo and double stopping, and particular effects like col legno and sul ponticello. These are explained in detail in a table. Farina’s influence on German violinist-composers was immense and long-lasting. Before he moved to Dresden there were no notable German violinists, yet within a few years several virtuosos appeared. David Cramer, the elder Johann Schop and Johann Vierdanck were among the first to show his influence, which can still be seen in the works of J.J. Walther, J.P. Westhoff and Heinrich Biber at the end of the 17th century.