ROCHESTER, NY Patrick Macey, associate professor of musicology at the Eastman School of Music, recently was awarded the Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize by the Renaissance Society of America for his book Bonfire Songs: Savonarolas Musical Legacy.
Maceys book, published in 1998 by Oxford University Press, explores music in Florence in the 1490s during the time of Lorenzo de Medici and the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola.
Savonarolas vehement denunciations of corruption in the Church caused the pope to order him to stop preaching; his refusal to obey led to his excommunication, and he was finally burned at the stake in 1498. His actions and writings inspired not only reformers such as Martin Luther, but also Catholic and Protestant composers, many of whom set the friars texts to music during the sixteenth century.
Bonfire Songs comes with a compact disk, featuring performances by the singers of the Eastman Capella Antiqua. Most of the music, including bawdy carnival songs by de Medici and sacred laudas by Savonarola, has not been recorded previously. The CD also features Latin motets on texts by Savonarola, and an English song with lute accompaniment improvised by Paul ODette, Maceys colleague on the Eastman faculty.
The Renaissance Society of America awards the Gordan Book Prize yearly to an author who has made an outstanding contribution to the study and understanding of Renaissance topics. Bonfire Songs: Savonarolas Musical Legacy impressed the committee for its originality and thoroughness of research. Macey received a monetary award, and his accomplishment was announced during the societys national conference, held recently in Florence, Italy.