Walloon musician and theorist of the Ars nova; b. Liège, Belgium, c. 1335–40; d. Padua, Italy, December 1411. In 1350 he was in Avignon, France, as favorite of Clement VI's niece, Alienor de Cominges-Turenne, and in 1358 he was in the employment of Cardinal albornoz, then papal legate for Italy, who granted him a canonry at Cesena and obtained one from Urban V at St. John the Evangelist, Liège, previously requested by Clement's niece. After Albornoz's death (1367) Ciconia returned to his native land and in 1372 took up his Liège canonry. Finally, in 1401, he returned to Padua as canon and precentor at St. John Church. Trained in the French musical tradition, in both his own country and Avignon, he became acquainted early with Italian music, and his first works, Italian madrigals and ballatas, testify to his knowledge of the art of Jacopo da Bologna and the Lombard court composers. On returning to Liège, he wrote some Masses in the Avignon style, blending French structures with the allurements of Italian melody, with which his French songs are imbued. At Padua he composed Masses and motets for special occasions and at the end some ballatas in which archaisms mingle with the innovations of the musical dialectic that was to usher in the polyphony and resonances of the quattrocento. Ciconia's known works, all preserved in their original codices in Padua, Rome, Trent, and other cities, are: four madrigals and 11 ballatas on Italian texts; two French songs (virelay and ballade); two canons, one on a Latin text, the other, French; 11 Mass parts; and 13 motets. His five-book theoretical work, Nova Musica, has never been published.
Bibliography: Modern reprints of his music appear in Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (1893– ; repr. Graz 1959–) 7, 14, and 61; Polyphonia Sacra, ed. c. van den borren (University Park, Pa. 1963). s. clercx (-lejeune), Johannes Ciconia: Un musicien liégeois et son temps, 2 v. (Brussels 1960) bibliog. xi–xxii. h. besseler, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–) 2:1423–1434; "Johannes Ciconia, Begründer der Chorpolyphonie," International Congress on Sacred Music, Proceedings 1950 (Rome 1952). e. dannemann, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 2:295–296. m. f. bukofzer, "The Beginnings of Choral Polyphony," Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music (New York 1950) 176–189. j. ciconia, "De proportionibus," Greek and Latin Music Theory, o. b. ellsworth, ed. and tr., v. 9 (Lincoln, Nebr. 1993) 412–446. j. ciconia, "Nova musica, liber primus de consonantiis," Greek and Latin Music Theory, o. b. ellsworth, ed. and tr., v. 9 (Lincoln, Nebr. 1993) 42–232. j. ciconia, "Nova musica, liber secundus de speciebus," Greek and Latin Music Theory, o. b. ellsworth, ed. and tr., v. 9 (Lincoln, Nebr. 1993) 234–336. j. ciconia, "Nova musica, liber tertius de proportionibus," Greek and Latin Music Theory, o. b. ellsworth, ed. and tr., v. 9 (Lincoln, Nebr. 1993) 338–360. j. ciconia, "Nova musica, liber quartus de accidentibus," Greek and Latin Music Theory, o. b. ellsworth, ed. and tr., v. 9 (Lincoln, Nebr. 1993) 362–410. s. clercx-lejeune and d. fallows, "Johannes Ciconia," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 4 (New York 1980) 391–394. a. kreutziger-herr, "Johannes Ciconia (ca. 1370–1412): Komponieren in einer Kultur des Wortes" (Ph.D. diss. Hamburg 1990). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, Mass.1996) 161–162.