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De pratica seu arte tripudii: `On the Practice or Art of Dancing' [Paperback]

Guglielmo Ebreo of Pesaro

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Book Description

April 30 1999 Clarendon Paperbacks
Fifteenth-century Italy produced the earliest known treatises on the dance. Guglielmo Ebreo, an eminent Jewish dancing master, dedicated his `On the Practice or Art of Dancing' to the future Sforza duke of Milan in the determination to give dance the status enjoyed by music and other arts and sciences. He included not only choreographies (subsequently likened to the artistic achievements of Machaut, Leonardo, Dante, and Petrarch), but a Defence of the Dance, a Socratic dialogue, and theoretical precepts - still valid today - which clearly reflect the contemporary humanistic aesthetic and ideals. Challenging exercises (such as dancing counter to the time of the music!) and advice to young ladies at balls are also described. Barbara Sparti has provided a heretofore unavailable (rare) source book for students, amateurs, and scholars: a critical edition in Italian and a facing English translation; dance tunes in facsimile and in annotated transcriptions based on the choreographies. Recent specialized studies and archival discoveries have greatly enriched the introductory chapters on De pratica's history, the interpretation of its music, Guglielmo's life, and dancing in fifteenth-century Italy. An Appendix containing significant theoretical, musical, and choreographic additions from a later copy also has an Autobiography describing princely festivities, replete with names of participants, locations, and expenditures, of particular import to historians and those interested in court life in the Italian Renaissance. A Bibliography, Biographical Notes on Guglielmo's patrons, Illustrations depicting scenes of dancing, as well as a Glossary of dance, music, and humanistic terms, complete the critical apparatus.

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Review

`The magnificent 15th-century treatise of the eminent Jewish dancing master, Guglielmo Ebreo of Pesaro ... has now, through this excellent work by Barbara Sparti, become accessible to those interested in early dance. It should be immediately placed on all university and college shelves ... Sparti's book is a careful and beautifully researched edition ... I cannot recommend this book more highly for everyone interested in dance.' Kay Lawrence, BBC Music Magazine

`De pratica seu arte tripudii (On the Practice or Art of Dancing) by Guglielmo Ebreo (alias Giovanni Ambrosio) has been skilfully edited, translated and comprehensively introduced by Barbara Sparti.' Early Music News, September 1993

`The translation is, as one would expect, scholarly, and Oxford University Press are to be congratulated on publishing the original Italian transcript alongside the translation, so that scholars can compare. This is very valuable ... This book would be a valuable addition to any collection, but it is made even more so by the additional information given by Sparti on the life and times of Guglielmo ... She paints a rich canvas of grand festivals, sumptuous banquets, jousts, carnivals, in all of which dancing played a major role ... The work should be compulsory reading to any student of dance history and an essential addition to the library of all music and dance establishments.' Madeleine Inglehearn. Dancing Times

'The translation is, as one would expect, scholarly, and Oxford University Press are to be congratulated on publishing the original Italian transcript alongside it, so that comparisons can be made ... this book would be a splendid addition to anyone's library, but it is made even more valuable by the mass of additional information given by Sparti on the life of Guglielmo, which helps to set him in his time and context. The work must certainly be compulsory reading to students of dance history and an essential addition to the libraries of all music and dance establishments.' Madeleine Inglehearn, Historical Dance, Volume 3, number 2, 1993

'an immensely important source for the history of European dance ... this scholarly, informative and readable volume is a milestone in the study of fifteenth-century Italian dancing and its music. We can count ourselves fortunate that it is written in English of great clarity, and the Clarendon Press are to be congratulated on undertaking its publication ... it is a study that no serious dance historian can afford to go without.' D.R. Wilson, Music and Letters, Vol. 75, No. 4, Nov '94

`Barabara Sparti has provided dance historians, musicologists, and interested performers with a valuable resource...Sparti opens up the area of fifteenth-century Ialtian court dance to the nonspecialist reader and provides a scholarly, well-researched, and well-written source for those who wish to perform these dances.' Speculum

`With the publication of Barbara Sparti's translation of Guglielmo Ebreo's De Pratica sue arte tripudii, an important document is widely available for the first time. Students of early music will appreciate the reproductions of the original notation, along with Sparti's detailed notes. All the currently-known sources, both primary and secondary, are thoroughly and thoughtfully mined by Sparti ... a book that should interest a wide range of scholars. Sparti has not only made an important primary source readily available, she has provided an up-to-date and succinct introduction to an essential skill of the Renaissance courtier.' Katherine Tucker McGinnis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1

`excellent edition of Guglielmo Ebreo's dance treatise ... A thorough and reliable edition of one of the treatises is therefore of the utmost value to dance scholars, musicians, historians and students of renaissance culture. This is what Sparti provides.' Jennifer Thorp, Early Music Today, August/September 1995

`For dance experts, the chief interest of De practica will lie in its step notations for thrity different dances arranged for couples, trios, and groups of four, six, and eight dancers. The dance tunes will also hold their particular interest. For most historians, however, thevalue of the work must lie in its material for the social history of the dance, of the princely courts, and for the ideological elasticity of certain themes...This edition and translation of De practica is a labor of love, careful scholarship, and surpassing expertise.' Journal of Modern History 67:4

`Oxford University Press should take great pride in publishing this excellent model for dance research...With this book, Sparti got it right. We have a model of excellence...it stands as the best example of scholarship among any of the currently available, published translations/reconstructions of fifteenth- of sixteenth-century dance manuals. Andrew Vorder Bruegge' Sixteenth Century Journal

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative intro and translation of 15th C. manuscript Aug. 31 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Anyone who is interested in reconstructing 15-16th Century Italian dance will find this book very practical, and I recommend it very highly indeed. A great deal of effort has been put into the introductory chapters which describe not only the origins and history of the document itself but also a great deal about the life of its author Guglielmo Ebreo (William the Jew, later known as Giovanni Ambrosio). These chapters provide a useful insight into upper class life of the period. The translation itself is presented in the most practical possible fashion, with the original Italian and corresponding English translation on facing pages. This makes it possible for an English-speaking reconstructor to rely mainly on the English text while still having the option of going back to the original words if clarification or a different interpretation might be possible. The music has been converted to modern notation, which makes it accessible to all musicians rather than restricting it to the scholarly minority. For dancers, this is good news. *** If you're into Renaissance dance, buy this book! ***
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