Voices from the 17th Century: A Brief Biography of Angelo Notari



Around 1656 Francis Bernard, astrologer and physician to James II, created a natal chart for Italian composer Angelo Notari (1566-1663). Formatted in the round, the chart has the typical (and specific) information—date, time, location of birth—that is used to read a person’s horoscope.

Notari’s natal chart includes other interesting information, as well. A mini-biography located at the center of the chart gives us some of the most substantial, if thin, details about his life to be found anywhere.

Here’s the original Latin:

Hic vir in Padua Nas[cit]
Natione et Parentibus
Italus servus fuit Prin[cipi-]
bus tribus Anglorum. A Musica
privata: Religione Rom[ana]
et vita in
etiam Caelebs (ad) extermam fort
se produxit senestutem

And in English translation (by Christopher Egerton):

“This man was born in Padua, an Italian by nationality and parentage. He was a servant to three English princes in their private music and a celibate of the Roman religion, and his life was prolonged into an old age.”

Notari lived to be approximately ninety-seven years old, a surprising accomplishment. The image above is a detail of an engraving by William Hole, who published it in 1613 (housed today in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge).

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