Giotto’s Harmony

Author / Artist: 
Publication Date: 
May, 2005

Giotto's Harmony explores the philosophical and cultural intersection of musicians, artists, and intellectuals in early Trecento Padua. Padua's unique intellectual fervor, with its prominent university and proximity to Venice, attracted such titan celebrities as Giotto, Dante, Marchetto da Padova, and Pietro d'Abano. The richness of their cross-disciplinary work places Padua at the forefront of pre-humanism. Both Giotto and Marchetto da Padova sought to reproduce natural phenomena as faithfully as possible in their respective métiers. Professor Beck argues that this return to nature is a reflection of the rebirth of the Aristotelian philosophy of nature found in the Physica and Metaphysica, taught at the University of Padua, and expounded in the theories of Pietro d'Abano. Paduan musical pre-humanist contributions are posited to be at the vanguard of musical development in Italy, rather than a footnote to the musical culture of Florence. Indeed, Giotto's Harmony makes the case that the musical Renaissance, which is often believed to have its origins in the much later work of Dunstable and Dufay, has its roots in Padua's pre-humanist tradition, as reflected in the work of Marchetto and contemporary theorists and composers.