Caterina Assandra (c. 1590 – after 1618) was an Italian composer and Benedictine nun. She was born in Pavia, Italy. She became famous as an organist and published various works during her lifetime.
Assandra composed a number of motets and organ pieces, written in German tablature. She studied counterpoint with Benedetto Re, or Reggio, one of the leading teachers at Pavia Cathedral, who dedicated a piece to her in 1607. Re may have been an exiled German Catholic. Assandra's musical talents were noted by the publisher Lomazzo early in her career, in his dedication of the works of Giovanni Paolo Cima.
In 1609, Assandra took vows and entered the Benedictine monastery of Saint Agata in Lomello, in the Lombard region of northern Italy. She adopted “Agata” as her religious name and continued composing, including a collection of motets in the new concertato style in Milan in 1609, an imitative eight-voice Salve Regina in 1611, and a motet, Audite verbum Dominum, for four voices in 1618. Assandra’s motets were among the first in the Roman style to be published in Milan, as Borsieri noted. She composed both highly traditional pieces and more innovative works. Among the latter is Duo seraphim. Her motet O Salutaris hodie, included in Motetti op. 2, was one of the first pieces to include ‘violone’.
Works, editions and recordings
- Op. 1 is lost. It is possible that her two motets, Ave Verum Corpus and Ego Flos Campi, could be from that volume.
- Motetti à due, & tre voci, Op. 2, dedicated to G. B. Biglia, the Bishop of Pavia, in 1609, has survived.
- Il Canto delle Dame, a 2010 recording by Maria Cristina Kiehr, Jean-Marc Aymes, and Concerto Soave, includes four pieces from the Motetti of 1608: Duo Seraphim, Canzon a 4, O quam suavis, and O salutaris hostia.
- Women Composers: Music Through the Ages.
- Listen: Ego Flos Campi (H.Heldstab), http://www.earlywomenmasters.net/midi/mid/assand2.mid
- Bowers, Jane; Judith Tick. Women Making Music. University of Illinois Press (1986). ISBN 0-252-01470-7
- Cessac, Catherine. Il Canto delle Dame, liner notes. Centre culturel de rencontre d'Ambronay (2010).
- Robert L. Kendrick. "Assandra, Caterina." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/01427>. (subscription access).
- Mariangela Donà. "Milan." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/18655>.
- Tharald Borgir, et al. "Violone." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/29478>.
- Stephen Bonta, et al. "Violoncello." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/44041>.
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