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Vittoria Aleotti (c.1575 – after 1620)

Born 1575
Ferrara, Italy
Died 1620
Nationality Italian
Era Pre-Baroque

Vittoria Aleotti, believed to be the same as Raffaella Aleotti (c.1570 – after 1646) was an Italian Augustinian nun, a composer and organist. Daughter of Ferrarese architect Giovanni Battista Aleotti, she first learned music by overhearing lessons intended for an older sister. Astonishing her parents and her sister’s teacher, Alessandro Milleville, by her harpsichord performance at about age six, she was taught directly by Milleville for at least two years before he recommended that she be educated at the musically renowned convent of S Vito, Ferrara. According to her father, Vittoria ‘chose to dedicate herself … to the service of God’ when she was 14. Sometime after that her father obtained madrigals from G.B. Guarini for her to set to music. He gave the results to Count del Zaffo, who had the music printed by Vincenti in Venice, as Ghirlanda de madrigali a quattro voci, in 1593. They represent a range of late 16th-century styles, from simple canzonettas to serious efforts at exploiting dissonance to express images of amorous longing or distress. Occasional awkward handlings of imitation or of text declamation suggest that the madrigals of Ghirlandawere still student works. Nothing more is known about Vittoria Aleotti. Carruthers-Clement, Bridges and Ossi believe that she took the name Raffaella when she professed vows as a nun at S Vito, because there is no record of a Vittoria at S Vito, and because her father’s will mentions a daughter named Raffaella but not one named Vittoria.

– Grove Music Online