Sto core mio se fosse di diamante

Timor et tremor

Poiché il mio largo pianto

ROLAND DE LASSUS, MUSICA PANURGICA

In the year 1573, Adam Bergcurieux published the book "Sex cantiones latinae, sechs deutsche Lieder, six chansons françoises, sei madrigali italiani...", which brought together the four languages of Lasso's correspondance. His letters, which recall the style of Rabelais – the pleasure of enumerating; the use of words and proverbs which are real or invented; parodies of passages from the Bible; euphonius phrases and word play; double meanings and poly-linguism are clearly Rabelaisian elements. But Lasso doesn't just imitate the language of his revered poet, he identifies with these artifices, incapable of separating the novelesque and nventions of fantasy from reality. His linguistic evolutions are a sign of his unhappiness; in this way Lasso manages to sublimate the anguish of the years of peregrination in search of patrons, and the years spent defending his creative integrity.


The renaissance doctors considered the mixing of languages to be a typical symptom of melancholy, and they give a number of examples of this singular confusio linguarum. Lasso's languages denote different moods and different worlds
character traits which he can only evoke by using one or the other of them. These four linguistic worlds co-exist, but do not communicate with each other, nor do they confuse each other, - they appear as isolated dimensions, with a constant tension between them. Italy is the sphere of exuberant passions, France of nostalgia, Rome of austerity, whereas Munich is a place of happy peace, although disturbed, anguished.

Many are the compositions of Lasso which are marked by melancholy. One might think that it was a sign of the times, the spirit of the epoch. When one looks closer, though, this mixture of elements follows Lasso's  declining fate. The musician himself reveals the deeper meaning of this change in the introducton to the Lagrime di San Pietro. His fatigue and unhappiness are at their highest point; he is prey to insomnia, and Lasso, in a stroke of genius, a last burst of clarity, takes up his pen to compose his own requiem.

[…] young vines, with their fresh shoots, and soft foliage are much more agreeable to the eye than old vines, which, fixed to their stakes and planted in rows, seem old and feeble. However, the former are fruitless, and spend all their energy making leaves, whereas the latter produce a juice which Man finds sweet, after rejecting all that is superfluous. Similarly, comparing my youthful compositions with the music I now produce in old age, I esteem the youthful ones more popular because more amiable and happy, whereas my present day compositions are more substantial, and please the spirit and ear more deeply, because they have a more serious beauty.
Would a fair listener not judge the light of the setting sun to be lovelier? My music will soon retire from the worldly stage, in this kind of dusk.