Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara


Award Winner

Part of New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism

  • Date Published: September 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107154070

£ 75.00

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The musica secreta or concerto delle dame of Duke Alfonso II d'Este, an ensemble of virtuoso female musicians that performed behind closed doors at the castello in Ferrara, is well-known to music history. Their story is often told by focussing on the Duke's obsessive patronage and the exclusivity of their music. This book examines the music-making of four generations of princesses, noblewomen and nuns in Ferrara, as performers, creators, and patrons from a new perspective. It rethinks the relationships between polyphony and song, sacred and secular, performer and composer, patron and musician, court and convent. With new archival evidence and analysis of music, people, and events over the course of the century, from the role of the princess nun musician, Leonora d'Este, to the fate of the musica secreta's jealously guarded repertoire, this radical approach will appeal to musicians and scholars alike.

    • Presents a wealth of new archival evidence regarding sixteenth-century music
    • Examines the music of sixteenth-century Ferrara from three different perspectives: culture; theory; practice
    • Treats several generations of women's biographies alongside their musical activities, and brings their stories from the periphery to the centre of the historical narrative
    Read more


    • Winner, 2019 Otto Kinkeldey Award, American Musicological Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara, Laurie Stras has produced a highly accessible and important volume - thoroughly researched and elegantly written - that throws open the clouded window that has, until now, obscured our understanding of this chapter in music history … Stras offers a second life to the musical women of sixteenth-century Ferrara.' Rebecca Cypess, Music and Letters

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107154070
    • length: 412 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 180 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.98kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 2 tables 88 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: Musica secreta
    1. Ferrarese convents and the Este in the first half of the sixteenth century
    2. Courtly women and secular music in Ferrara in the first half of the sixteenth century
    3. Princesses and politics: the Este women and music in the 1550s
    4. Actresses and Ariosto: spectacle and song in the 1560s
    5. 'Un modo di cantare molto diverso': Ferrara and the new singing of the 1570s
    6. Margherita's arrival and the convents in the first half of the 1580s
    7. Musical practices of the 1580s concerto
    8. Ferrara's final chapter: court and convents in the 1590s
    9. Afterlife in Mantua.

  • Resources for

    Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara

    Laurie Stras

    General Resources

    Find resources associated with this title

    Type Name Unlocked * Format Size

    Showing of

    Back to top

    This title is supported by one or more locked resources. Access to locked resources is granted exclusively by Cambridge University Press to lecturers whose faculty status has been verified. To gain access to locked resources, lecturers should sign in to or register for a Cambridge user account.

    Please use locked resources responsibly and exercise your professional discretion when choosing how you share these materials with your students. Other lecturers may wish to use locked resources for assessment purposes and their usefulness is undermined when the source files (for example, solution manuals or test banks) are shared online or via social networks.

    Supplementary resources are subject to copyright. Lecturers are permitted to view, print or download these resources for use in their teaching, but may not change them or use them for commercial gain.

    If you are having problems accessing these resources please contact

  • Author

    Laurie Stras, University of Southampton
    Laurie Stras is Research Professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield, where she teaches and researches sixteenth-century music, popular music, and music and disability. She is co-director of the ensemble Musica Secreta, with whom she has made four acclaimed recordings, including Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter, winner of the 2016 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society.


    • Winner, 2019 Otto Kinkeldey Award, American Musicological Society
    • Honourable Mention, 2018 Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender Best Book Award

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.