Four Canons (for three women's voices)

Category Choral and Vocal Music


At the end of December 1930, Nino Rota travelled to the USA where he enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia on the recommendation of Arturo Toscanini and completed the first two years of a three-year study course.

Rota initially had a difficult relationship with his new composition teacher Rosario Scalero whose other students included Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti.

Rota composed the Four Canons for three women's voices a year later and the work received its first performance on 12 May 1932 at the Casimir Hall (today known as the Curtis Hall) in Philadelphia in a concert dedicated to Maestro Scalero organised by his students.

The composition consists of four brief movements based on the unison circular canon form, meaning that the three voices sing within the same range. The canons are written in a madrigal style.

The didactic character of these pieces is conspicuous, but the selection of the texts demonstrates a degree of originality going beyond a mere study assignment. Rota utilised fragments of Italian poetry dating from the 15th and 16th centuries for his canons. The verses were taken from the love poetry of Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494), Matteo Maria Boiardo (1441-1494) and Gabriello Chiabrera (1552-1638).

Bruno Moretti, Translation: Lindsay Chalmers-Gerbracht (from preface to Schott music ED 57825)

Duration: 00:04:00

First performance: 12 March, 1932 Philadelphia, Curtis Institute, Casimir Hall (USA), Student's Concert


La non vuol esser più mia,
La non vuol la traditora,
L’è disposta alfin ch'io muora
Per amor, e gelosia.

Angelo Poliziano (1454 1494) da La incostante, canzonctta

Al suo dolce guardare, al dolce riso,
L'erba vien verde, e colorito il fiore,
E il mar s'acqueta, e il Ciel si rasserena.

Matteo Maria Boiardo (1441 1494) dal Sonetto VIII

Misero cor! più non riman speranza...

Gabriella Chiabrera (1552-1638) da Canzonette Amorose e Morali

Benedetto sie ‘l giorno l’ ora, e ‘l punto,
Che dal tuo dolce amor, dama, fu' punto.

Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494) dalla Stanza XI

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Sheet Music

Date 1932
Publisher Schott Music