Landini was born on 1325 in Fiesole, Italy and died on September 2, 1397 in Florence. He was a leading composer of 14th-century Italy, famed during his lifetime for his musical memory, his skill in improvisation, and his virtuosity on the organetto, or portative organ, as well as for his composition. The son of Jacopo the Painter, he was blinded in childhood by smallpox. He was crowned with a laurel wreath as the winner of a poetical contest at Venice in 1364. In Il Paradiso degli Alberti del 1389 Giovanni da Prato described Landini as playing his songs so sweetly “that no one had ever heard such beautiful harmonies, and their hearts almost burst from their bosoms.”
Landini’s surviving works include 141 settings of ballate (91 for two voices, 42 for three, the rest in versions for both two and three voices), 1 French virelay, 12 madrigals, and a caccia. His madrigals conform to the 14th-century type, consisting “of one to four stanzas … sung to the same music” and at the end “a ritornello of two lines set in a contrasting rhythm” (G. Reese, Music in the Middle Ages). His favorite form, however, was the balata, an Italian song from modeled on the French virelay or on the native Italian lauda spiritual. The melodies (top part predominating are vocal in character and highly ornamental. As in other songs of the period, they are distinguished by elaborate patterning, syncopations, roulades, and an evident lack of emotional connection between the words and the music. The songs were performed by voices, instruments, or, typically, a mixture of both. Their stylized elegance, gay preciosity, and clear, limpid texture characterize all of Landini’s song.
One cadence formula common in 14th-century music, particularly that of Landini, is known as the Landini cadence, in which the leading tone drops to the sixth of the scale before approaching the final tonic note.
Reference: The New Encyclopedia Britannica (Micropaedia)