Sulpitia Cesis

Sulpitia Cesis was born in 1577 in Modena, Italy. She was an Italian composer as well as a well-regarded lutanist. Her father was was Count Annibale Cesis and he gave 300 pieces of gold for her dowry upon entering the Augustian convent in Modena in 1593. She was a nun at the convent of Saint Geminiano in Modena, although some sources report it as Saint Agostino. Her only known work is a volume of eight-part Motetti Spirituali, which she wrote in 1619.

Interesting Aspects of Motetti Spirituali

Some scholars believe that the piece was composed earlier than 1619 because of its style. It is composed of 23 motets for 2-12 voices. Her work is different than other works being written at this time because it contains indications for instruments such as cornetts, trombones, violones, and archiviolones.

A bass part exists as well, which is interesting considering that this music was written for a group of cloistered nuns. One explanation is that this part was for the organ or viola da gamba. Sulpitia Cesis dedicated her collection to another nun of the same name, Anna Maria Cesis, who lived at the Convent of Santa Lucia in Rome. Both Sulpitia Cesis's and Anna Maria Cesis's convents were well known for their music.