We love this song 🙂
Tant que Vivray, by Claudin de Sermisy. Live, 4K video from our Leonardo da Vinci: a musical Odyssey concert in San Francisco, performed by the Early Music ensemble Voices of Music. Stefanie True, soprano; Deborah Rentz-Moore, mezzo soprano.
We do not know the circumstances that caused da Vinci to move from his native Italy to France, where he spent his final days. Perhaps his fame had waned, or perhaps patrons had moved on to younger, more productive artists who were more in vogue; certainly, any artist in Rome at that time would have been overshadowed by the completion of the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings in 1512 or his monumental marble sculptures, such as the Pietà. Drafts of Leonardo’s letters from this time reveal a bitter, melancholy tone. While living in Rome between 1513 and 1516, and enjoying the patronage of Leo X along with Raphael and Michelangelo, da Vinci had met the young ruler of France, Francis I, during an event in Bologna following Francis’ military victory in Milan over Ludovico Sforza (who had comissioned Leonardo to paint the Last Supper). Leonardo must have made a grand impression on Francis, possibly as a result of creating a mechanical lion for the king. Leonardo’s own health was not good, and when Leo X died in 1516, Leonardo accepted Francis’ generous offer of an appointment, title and stipend. The original letter from Francis’ letter survives, and may be viewed in Amboise, in which all Francis asked in return for the appointment was “merely the pleasure of your conversation.”
The concluding work in our da Vinci program, “Tant que vivray,” was one of the most popular songs in the new Parisian style created expressly for the court of Francis I; the composer, Claudin de Sermisy, attended the French court as a young man both in France and Italy. The Text of the song is by Clément Marot, poet to the King as well as Queen Claude and Marguerite de Navarre.
Tant que vivray en âge florissant,
Je serviray d’amour le dieu puissant,
En faictz, et dictz, en chansons, et cords.
Par plusieurs fois m’a tenu languissant,
Mais après dueil m’a faict réjouyssant,
Car j’ay l’amour de la belle au gent corps.
Son alliance, c’est ma fiance:
Son cœur est mien, le mien est sien:
Fi de tristesse, vive lyesse
Puis qu’en amour a tant de bien.
Quand je la veulx servir, et honorer,
Quand par escripts veux son nom décorer,
Quand je la veoy, et visite souvent,
Les envieux n’en font que murmurer,
Mais notr’amour n’en sçaurait moins durer;
Aultant ou plus en emporte le vent.
Malgré envie, toute ma vie
Je l’aimeray, et chanteray,
C’est la premiere, c’est la derniere,
Que j’ay servie, et serviray.
As long as I live in such magnificent times,
I will serve the powerful god of love,
In actions and words, with songs and music.
As for myself, I was left to languish over and over,
But after this sadness I rejoiced
Since I have the love of a beautiful woman.
To be with her, I give my word:
Her heart is mine, mine is hers:
Fie on sadness, long live joy,
Since in love there is so much good.
When I want to serve and honor her,
Wiith a fine hand I decorate her name,
When I often see and visit her,
Jealous people can only whisper
But our love will always endure
Beyond the reach of the wind.
Despite envy, for all my life
I will love her, and I will sing:
“She is the first, she is the last
That I have served, and will ever serve.”
Translations by David Tayler, Cynthia Simon & Lawrence Rosenwald. ©2018 Voices of Music
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