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This essay examines some of the humorous responses to fleas in literature, painting, and, especially, music. While scholarship has been aware of the wide-spread popularity of the flea-topos, no attention has yet been given to its musical manifestations. One of Lasso’s two such compositions extends the geographic boundaries of the theme to remote Hungary. „Bestia curvafia pulices” turns up in a poem that Lasso set to music and published in his Les melanges in 1576. „Bestia curvafia” [whoreson beast] was an expression in Hungarian, which for centuries was one of the most common verbal abuses. The first registered occurrence of the defamation bestia curvafia is from 1507. It was known throughout the country. Both the presence of a Hungarian swearword in the title and the reference to a Hungarian town (Posonium) in the text prove the Hungarian origin of the text. – Transcription of the chanson „Bestia curvafia”.

Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Language English
French
German
Year of
Foundation
1961
Publication
Programme
changed title
Founder Magyar Tudományos Akadémia  
Founder's
Address
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 0039-3266 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2888 (Online)