La vita fugge (Cipriano de Rore)

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Editor: Pothárn Imre (submitted 2020-03-24).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 159 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transcribed from 1552 Gardano edition. Original key (chiavi naturali) and note values. This edition shows two differences from the recording of the ensemble Blue Heron who claim to have used the original 1542 edition, which we unfortunately have no access to. These are in the Seconda parte in the Quinto voice, in bar 20 Gardano has an explicit sharp sign before the G, and also in bar 28, where the Quinto sings almost the same melody the Canto had sung before, the Canto has no sharp sign, but the Quinto has.

General Information

Title: La vita fugge
Composer: Cipriano de Rore
Lyricist: Francesco Petrarca

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SATTB
Genre: SecularMadrigal

Language: Italian
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1542 in Il primo libro de madrigali a cinque voci, no. 8
  2nd published: 1544 in Il primo libro de madrigali cromatici a cinque voci, no. 5

Description: Madrigal in two parts:
I. La vita fugge
II. Tornami avanti

External websites:

Original text and translations

Italian.png Italian text

La vita fuge, et non s’arresta un’hora,
Et la morte ven dietro a gran giornate,
Et le cose presenti, et le passate
Mi danno guerra, et le future anchora,

E ’l rimembrar et l’aspettar m’accora,
Hor quinci, hor quindi, sì che ’n veritate,
Se non ch’i’ ho di me stesso pietate,
I’ sarei già di questi pensier fora.

Tornami avanti, s’alcun dolce mai
Hebbe ’l cor tristo; et poi da l’altra parte
Veggio al mio navigar turbati i venti;

Veggio fortuna in porto, et stanco homai
Il mio nochier, et rotte arbore et sarte,
E i lumi bei, che mirar soglio, spenti.
(Canzoniere, 272)

English.png English translation

Life is fleeting and does not pause for a moment,
and death follows after by great stages,
and present and past things
make war on me, and future things also,

and remembering and expecting weigh down my heart,
now on this side, now on that, so that in truth,
except that I take pity on myself,
I would already be beyond these thoughts.

If my sad heart ever knew any sweetness,
it reappears before me; and then on the other side
I see the winds turbulent for my voyage,

I see a storm in port, and my helmsman
wearied now, and masts and lines broken,
and the beautiful lights that I used to gaze at, extinguished.