Quel sempre acerbo (Cipriano de Rore)

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  • (Posted 2020-04-21)  CPDL #58112: 
Original key (high chiavette):   (MIDI)    
Transposed down a fourth:   (MIDI)   - Alto in transposed violin clef
Editor: Pothárn Imre (submitted 2020-04-21).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 163 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transcribed from 1552 Gardano print. Original note values.

General Information

Title: Quel sempre acerbo
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, Edition 1, no. 15
    2nd published: 1544 in Il primo libro de madrigali a cinque voci, Edition 3, no. 15
Description: Two-part madrigal:
I. Quel sempre acerbo
II. L'atto d'ogni gentil

External websites:

Original text and translations

Italian.png Italian text

Quel sempre acerbo et honorato giorno
Mandò sì al cor l’imagine sua viva
Ch’ingegno o stil non fia mai che ’l descriva,
Ma spesso a lui con la memoria torno.

L’atto d’ogni gentil pietate adorno,
E ’l dolce amaro lamentar ch’io udiva,
Facean dubbiar, se mortal donna o diva
Fosse, che ’l ciel rasserenava intorno.

La testa or fino, et calda neve il volto,
Hebeno i cigli, et gli occhi eran due stelle,
Onde Amor l’arco non tendeva in fallo.

Perle et rose vermiglie, ove l’accolto
Dolor formava ardenti voci et belle,
Fiamma i sospir, le lagrime cristallo.

Petrarca, Canzoniere 157

English.png English translation

That forever cruel and honored day
impressed upon my heart its image so alive
there is no wit or style that can ever describe it,
but often I return to it in memory.

Her gestures adorned with all noble pity
and the sweet bitter lamenting that I heard
made me wonder if it were mortal woman or goddess
who made the sky clear all around.

Her head fine gold, and her face warm snow,
ebony her eyebrows, and her eyes two stars,
whence Love never bent his bow in vain;

pearls and crimson roses, where the gathered
sorrow formed ardent and beautiful words;
flame her sighs, her tears crystal.