All the deceits of Love

Page under construction, Aug. 25, 2016



alto Solo Con violini e viola d’amore

Fileno che le frodi

(All the deceits of Love)

For Alto, viola d’amore, two violins and basso continuo

Attributed to Attilio Ariosti

Copied 1731

Edition prepared, but never published, by Thomas Georgi, 2008, from Ariosti, Attilio Malachia [18th Century music album.] MSS. A7125M4.E34 1731, held in the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library,

Los Angeles

The work

This cantata, Fileno, che le frodi, is drawn from a set of six, the source of which is a manuscript copy (MSS. A7125M4.E34 1731) in the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA. We are grateful to the library for permission to publish this edition. Dr Graydon Beeks, of the Pomona College Department of Music in Claremont CA, has speculated that this set of 6 Cantatas, ( which is preserved in manuscript copy (MSS. A7125M4.E34 1731) in the Clark Library in UCLA, and from which we have obtained Fileno), was Ariosti’s attempt in progress to re-create the financial success of his subscription album Cantatas and Lessons for the viola d′amore. While other cantatas in the set are labeled as being by Ariosti, Fileno is not attributed in the manuscript. However, because of the use of the viola d′amore, especially because of the kind of scordatura, as well as the musical writing in the work, I think it is highly probable that Ariosti is the composer.

Biographical Sketch

Attilio Ariosti was born in Bologna on November 5, 1666, and probably died in London in 1729. He was a singer and organist, also a cellist and composer, but when he is remembered at all today, it is as a player of the viola d’amore. He entered the Order of S Maria de’ Servi in 1688, and lasted 8 years before he left the convent  to enter the service of the Duke of Mantua. He then moved to Berlin to enter the service of electress Sophie Charlotte, where he became the center of controversy, a Roman Catholic monk at a Protestant Court.  In 1703 he moved again, to Vienna, attaching himself unofficially to the Austrian Court. During this time he wrote cantatas, oratorios, and operas, he also copied some movements of the Gottweig HS 4806, and was a co-godparent with Gottfried Finger.

His movements over the period of the War of Spanish Succession, 1707-1714, are unclear, but we have a letter to his brother, dated 15th February 1716, from Paris:

Following a lengthy and disastrous voyage, with a thousand mishaps along the way, I now find myself in perfect health in Paris, where your missive reached me from the Court of Nancy… I have been welcomed with great distinction by all the Princes whither I have passed, that is, in Baviera, Wuetemburg, Duerlach, Baden, Lorraine, and now the Duke of Orleans, regent of this Realm…in which I will not tarry as there are torpid intestinal motions that do not allow lighter moments. I will travel to England and from there on to Portugal and Madrid.

I am writing this message to Signor Sallaroli who follows all my affairs, which rest with him, in a way as could ever be in my favour. The sum of 46 Louis will be counted in your favour through the good offices of the Lady Marchoiness Mariana Bentivoglia of Ferrara, and will be paid as soon as requested, in my name; share with our dear mother in a prayer to God for me…I could send you much news, but dare not do so as I cannot trust everyone, as all who move with circumspection:  I can only tell you that I have suffered greatly the rigours of winter, the most terrible cold that I have ever experienced; on several occasions I believed that would remain buried under the snow, like many other travelers…

Ariosti may have traveled on to Madrid and Portugal, he certainly travelled to France in the early 1720′s. His first known appearance in England was on 12th July 1716, when he perormed on the viola d’amore between the acts of Handel’s Amadigi. From 1719-1723 he was employed by the Royal Academy of Music, first to negotiate with singers, later also to compose operas.

After his tenure at the Royal Academy came to an end he published The Cantatas and Lessons for the Viola D’amore by subscription. This set of works has the longest subscription list of any 18th musical work. Some speculation surrounds it, as some say that Ariosti padded the list with the names of all he asked for money, rather than just those that actually paid. If Ariosti made a great deal of money on the Cantatas, then it was gone in a relatively few years, as he died in poverty in 1729. Paolo Rolli, poet and librettist, wrote an unkind epitaph:

Here lies Attilio Ariosti-

He′d borrow still, could he accost ye.

Monk to the last, whate′er betide,

At others cost, he lived- and died.

It could also be, of course, that the first set of Cantatas really were  a big success and ill health ate up the proceeds.


Explanation of Notation

Ariosti′s works for viola d’amore feature his unique version of what we now call scordatura. Ariosti had this to say about ′scordatura" in his introduction to the Lessons for the viol d′amour (keep in mind that Ariosti is selling viola d′amore sonatas to violinists) :

To the reader :

For you alone, subscribers and dilettantes of music and of the violin, the following tunings are to prepare you for the practice of the viola d’amore, according the method  developed by me which you have wished to know about.(....)  Since it is first necessary to get some practice in these tunings before getting your hands on that one (= the viola d’amore), I have set them clearly on the violin, which will help you find your way with confidence.(....) you will then understand why it was a necessity (and not a whim) to introduce you to this by way of, and practice on, the violin, without which you wouldn’t be able to succeed without considerable trouble. (Translation Lucas Harris)

"Scordatura." then, is a grip notation that translates the fingering of the viola d’amore into familar violin fingerings. Here′s how to use it: tune your viola d′amore (or violin or viola) to the accordatura given at the beginning of the work, then finger as if the instrument were a violin still tuned in 5ths. Alto clef means first position violin fingerings apply to the first position of the top four strings of the viola d′amore. Why alto clef? I only speculate, but I think this widespread practice was meant to indicate it was not business as usual, i.e., that the piece was not for a violin in scordatura, but a viola d'amore.  For example, Biber used treble clef for most of his set of trios for violins in scordatura, Armonia artificiosa-ariosa, 1696.

So far, so good;  Ariosti shares this use specific use of alto clef indicating violin fingerings, with hundreds, maybe over a 1000, scordatura viola d′amore parts in the 18th century. With his use of french violin clef, however, he departs this company, and this is a factor in favor of the attribution of this work to him. For Ariosti, french violin clef applies first position vioin fingerings to the 2nd position on the viola d′amore. The application of first position violin fingerings to higher positions of a totally different instrument is a hard idea to get across to students, not intuitive. But just maybe it was the best available choice for all the gentlemen violinists to whom he was trying to sell his Lessons for the viola d′amore. Ariosti he took first position everywhere on the viola d′amore. His treble clef indicates first position violin fingerings to the third position, and an altogether idiosyncratic g clef on the third line of the staff denotes 4th position.

Here is the basic first position:


While in his other Cantata with obligato viola d′amore, Pur al fin, Ariosti uses baritone clef to indicate d and g strings violin fingerings applied to the 4th and 5th string of the viola d’amore, and bass clef to apply the same to the 5th and 6th strings of the viola d’amore, in this work he again invents a clef, an F clef on the bottom line of the stave.  (And, once again, there is separate solo violin part for when no viola d'amore is avaiable, and here it goes its own way because that particular triad isn′t a possible triple stop on the violin) :


The F clef applies violin fingerings to the bottom four strings of Ariosti’s 6 string d’amore. Dealing with the lowest strings of the viola d′amore is a major challenge for the 18th century composer, and while many employed the alto clef with violin fingerings for the top 4 strings, there were many notational solutions to the lowest. I can imagine Ariosti changing his mind between the two cantatas, esp. if Pur al fin was written in Vienna before he got to London and started thinking in terms of a market for his music of gentlemen amateur musicians. The grip fingering solution in Fileno has the advantage of being simpler than that of Pur al fin.

This cantata was premiered in February, 2002, at the Richard Loucks Memorial Lecture I presented at Pomona College. I still rememeber being struck by the ease with which we put together the performance; this is music designed to please amateurs, of high musical quality but with reasonable technical requirements. It is considerably easier than Pur al fin, which may have been for Ariosti′s own use, during his wandering years. Simpler it is, but it is still subtle. Have a careful look at the small changes the composer made between the several repetitions of what is basically a sung minuet, in the final movement.

Thomas Georgi, Toronto, January 12, 2008

Text and Translations

English translation by Helen Konowitz (California)

Cantata VI – Fileno che le frodi tutte d’amor sapea

Prologue = Recit:


Fileno, who knew all the deceits of love, was teaching the ways of good love to the nymphs and shepherds:


If at times among cold tree-trunks
Boreas1 links his course to the sea
every pale branch falls
and the meadow is despoiled of
.                  Its charming green dress.

If at times too obstructed3,

i                       Phoebus (5) responds, his golden rays
wilt the grass in the lap of the meadows
and as a trophy of an angry heaven
the flower languishes on its stem.


Just as too much frost and too much heat both equally bring death to springtime, so love's heat and jealousy's frost bring death to the heart.

Ritornello and Aria
May jealousy, too cold a poison,
never spoil the soul's peace,
since at times if it reigns in one's heart
.           it can extinguish there the burning light of love


And here is the conclusion of the work where the wish for moderation in desire is expressed in a menuet, with all the parties contributing in similar and more or less equal ways musically (translation of this section follows immediately) :


Let us love, then, and may the pleasing          
flame not consume but maintain the soul
in the ardor which nourishes and gives life
.               but becomes fever in excess.”

  1. Boreas = the North Wind
  2. Manuscript reads cotenti
  3. i.e., by snow and ice
  4. Manuscript reads “Tebo”
  5. Phoebus = the Sun God
  6. Manuscript reads “ch’alimento”

German translation: Mrs. Gudrun Luchmann (Frankfurt, Germany)


Fileno, der alle Tücken der Liebe kannte,

lehrte Nymphen und Hirten die Wege zu einer guten Liebe.


In Zeiten, wenn Boreas zwischen frostig kalten Stämmen

seinen Lauf zur See nimmt, fällt das vergilbte Laub,

und die Wiese verliert ihr liebliches Grün.

Wenn Phoebus in dieser allzu unguten Zeit erscheint,

dann lassen seine goldenen Strahlen das Gras im Schoße der Wiesen verwelken, und als Siegeszeichen eines zornigen Himmels die Blume auf ihrem Stengel ermatten.


Zu viel Kälte und zu viel Hitze bringen gleichermaßen dem Frühling den Tod. So bringen die Glut der Liebe ebenso wie die Kälte der Eifersucht den Tod - den Tod der Herzen.

Möge das Gift der kalten Eifersucht niemals den Frieden der Seele zerstören. Weil sie zeitweise das Herz regiert, vermag sie sonst das brennende Licht der Liebe auszulöschen.


Laßt und daher so lieben, daß die wohltuende Flamme die Seele erhalte und nicht zerstöre. daß die Glut, die das Leben nährt, nicht zu einem zerstörerischen Feuer werde.

Editorial policy-  for the Score

The original beaming of 8th notes has been retained. I have also added trills at cadences, in parentheses, where the original sign was a plus. I have put other changes/addtions in parentheses or brackets, and listed changes below.  Where there are original figures I give them, where there are none, I have added none.


  1. Bar 10 Vda. This ‘g′′’’ ‘ is clearly considered to be sharp throughout, despite the fact it is nowhere in the key signature.
  2. Bar 15, alto 4th beat One beam omitted, final note, g′, notated as a quarter note.
  3. Bar 35 Vda The manuscript uses a flat here, in the 18th century sense of canceling a sharp. Even though the sharp is nowhere to be seen....
  4. Bar 39 Vda Note in () is a suggestion to fit the harmony; I think the original pitch of sounding g is a copying mistake.
  5. Bar 42 Vda This is the only point where the copyist has included a key signatures when he changed clefs.
  6. Bar 43 Vda The copyist has a treble clef at this point, but a g clef on the first line, i. e. a French violin clef, is needed to make the pitches come out. I  recommend playing the passage in first position.


  1. Bar 23 Vda The decision to include the viola d’amore in the final movement applies to the final verse, bar 70. The part is given here, in parentheses, is only a suggestion, for the convenience of those who may want to extend the doubling further.
  2. Bar 70 Vda The presence of the viola d’amore from this point in the score is prompted by the presence of an empty staff in the original manuscript.