Leonora Orsini

Born: c.1560
Died: 1634



A lover of music, Leonora Orsini was a cultured noblewoman, the granddaughter of Cosimo de Medici and daughter of Isabella de’ Medici and Paolo Orsini. Both Orsini and her mother composed songs for lute and voice which can be found in The Bottegari Lutebook, compiled by composer, Cosimo Bottegari. In 1574, Orsini’s mother was murdered by her father.

In 1588, Orsini moved to Rome with her cousin, Maria, and founded a musical ensemble for women called the concerto delle donne where women were trained as performers for a career in music.  She married Alessandro Sforza, the count of Santa Fiora and Duke of Segni, and had eight children while continuing to perform at court. Orsini’s marriage was not a happy one and, at some point after repeated beatings, a group of princesses offered to help her by petitioning Christine de Lorraine to give her sanctuary.  Orsini was able to separate from her husband, hide her children in convents and, as the founder of the monastery of Santa Chiara delle Cappuccine in Rome, spent the remainder of her days peacefully. She died in 1634.


The following selection is recommended for vocal study and programming on recitals and concerts.
Please note that this list may not constitute the entirety of the composer's output. 


Per pianto la mia carne (soprano and lute)





Cusick, Suzanne G. Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court: Music and the Circulation of Power. University of Chicago Press, 2009, pp. 48-50.

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