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Paul A. Merkley and Lora L.M. Merkley, Music and Patronage in the Sforza Court.
(Studi sulla storia della musica in Lombardia. Volume III.) Brepols: Pietro Antonio Locatelli Foundation, 1999. xxx + 514 pp. n.p. ISBN: 2-503-50706-9.
In geo-political terms, early-modern Italy was dominated -- grosso modo -- by five principal entities: the republic of Venice, the duchy of Milan, the republic of Florence (subsequently the duchy of Florence and the grand duchy of Tuscany), the papal states, and the kingdom of Naples. To varying degrees, the musical patronage practices of these distinct polities have been carefully studied and thoroughly described by musicologists. One thinks, for example, of Frank D'Accone's magisterial publications on republican Florence, of Allan Atlas's decisive contribution on the Aragonese kingdom of Naples, and of other such studies. The principal lacuna -- a serious one -- has been the duchy of Milan, notwithstanding important earlier studies by Emilio Motta, Claudio Sartori, Guglielmo Barblan, Edward Lowinsky, and William Prizer, among others. Thus Paul and Lora Merkley's impressive study has been eagerly awaited, the more so because the Merkleys already enjoy an excellent reputation, richly deserved. In a series of remarkable papers, coolly and masterfully delivered at recent meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Merkleys have systematically rewritten the biography of Josquin Desprez, preeminent European composer of the early-modern period: for scholars in other disciplines whose eye might fall on this page, the Merkleys' accomplishment in this respect is roughly equivalent to overturning …