Cantai un tempo (Claudio Monteverdi)

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  • (Posted 2022-03-13)  CPDL #68396:        (LilyPond)
Editor: Allen Garvin (submitted 2022-03-13).   Score information: Letter, 4 pages, 92 kB   Copyright: CC BY NC
Edition notes:
  • (Posted 2014-06-30)  CPDL #32363:       
Editor: Peter Rottländer (submitted 2014-06-30).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 132 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Original key.
  • (Posted 2014-06-30)  CPDL #32362:       
Editor: Peter Rottländer (submitted 2014-06-30).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 123 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Fourth down according to chiavette convention.
  • (Posted 2011-02-26)  CPDL #23212:        (MuP)
Editor: Vincent Carpentier (submitted 2011-02-26).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 78 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: MUP file is zipped.

General Information

Title: Cantai un tempo
Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
Lyricist: Pietro Bembo , Rima XLV  (first two stanzas) in Prose della volgar lingua, Gli Asolani, Rime, ed. by Carlo Disionotti, UTET, Torino (1966), reproduced in Letteratura italiana Einaudi, p. 28. An online version of Bembo's rhymes can be found at

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

Language: Italian
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1590 in Il secondo libro de madrigali a cinque voci (Claudio Monteverdi), no. 21

External websites:

Original text and translations

Italian.png Italian text

Cantai un tempo, e se fu dolce il canto
questo mi tacerò, ch'altri il sentiva;
or è ben giunto ogni mia festa a riva,
et ogni mio piacer rivolto in pianto.

O fortunato, chi raffrena in tanto
il suo desio, che riposato viva;
di riposo, di pace il mio mi priva:
così va, ch'in altrui pon fede tanto.

English.png English translation

Once I sang, and though my song was sweet,
I shall keep quiet now, for others know it;
all my celebrations have now washed ashore
and every pleasure turned to weeping.

Lucky is he who curbs his desire so
that he can live peacefully;
mine deprives me of rest and peace;
thus is the fate of he who places such faith in another.

Translation by Campelli
French.png French translation

Je chantais jadis, et bien que doux fuisse mon chant,
je me tairai, car les autres le connaissent;
maintenant mes fêtes ont touché à leur rive
et mon plaisir est converti en pleurs.

Chanceux celui qui sait retenir son désir
au point de vivre bien reposé;
le mien m'enlève paix et repos :
ainsi vit celui qui a confié en autrui autant.

Translation by Campelli