Claudia Sessa

Born: 1570
Died: 1617, Milan, Italy



Claudia Sessa spent her life as a nun in the Santa Maria Annunciata convent in Milan, Italy, but little else is known about her life. Despite restrictions imposed by the Council of Trent barring certain types of music making in convents, Sessa modestly and continuously sang and composed in Santa Maria Annunciata to a full audience. She accompanied others on various instruments with wondrous harmonies.  She was “...spirited in her voice, alert and quick in her trills, full of affects."  A skilled musician and actress who was quite adept at performing compositions written by others, Sessa remained modest about her talents. She could not even be swayed by an invitation from Queen Margaret to perform at the Spanish court because she preferred the monastery as her only performance venue. Sessa is best known for her two sacred songs, written in the monodic style.


The following selections are recommended for vocal study and programming on recitals and concerts. 


Two sacred songs (1613)
     Occhi io vissi di voi
     Vattene pur lasciva





Bowers, Jane and Judith Tick, editors. Women Making Music, The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950. University of Illinois Press, 1987, pp. 126-127, 143.

Glickman, Sylvia, and Martha Furman Schleifer, editors. From Convent to Concert Hall, A Guide to Women Composers. Greenwood Press, 2003.

Glickman, Sylvia, and Martha Furman Schleifer, editors. Women Composers: Music Through the Ages, vol.1. G.K. Hall and Co., 1996.