ESM HomeUniversity of RochesterSibley Music Library
Sounds of Eastman - Taking Music Further
The Seventeenth Annual Conference
of the

Society for Seventeenth-Century Music

Eastman School of Music
April 23–26, 2009

Scores and Collections (I)

Lamentation (IIA)

It's a Man's World (IIB)

Controlling Bodies (III)

Other Spaces, Other Worlds (IVA)

Crossing Cultures (IVB)

Morality and Spirituality (V)



(in program order)

Scores and Collections

Paper Session I
Friday, 24 April 2009, 9-11:50 a.m.

Anne Schnoebelen

Melpomene coronata da Felsina: A Bolognese Cantata Anthology from 1685”

In 1685 Marino Silvani, Bolognese music publisher and editor, issued a collection of twelve virtuosic cantatas for solo voice and continuo, each written by a different Bolognese composer. Fancifully entitled Melpomene coronata da Felsina (Melpomene Crowned by Felsina), it appears to be the only cantata anthology published in Bologna in which the music is exclusively Bolognese.  (Felsina is the Latinized form of Velzna, the Etruscan name for Bologna.)

Of special interest is direct connection of the anthology to the prestigious Accademia Filarmonica, founded in 1677. Nine of the composers are noted as members, and more significantly, the collection is dedicated to the brothers of the institution’s lately deceased founder, Vincenzo Carrati.

Given the well-known reputation of the Accademia Filarmonica for fostering the stile antico, this collection raises questions of the attitudes of the Accademia in its early years toward the very different esthetic and style of the virtuosic solo cantata. Why would there have been such a public connection to the Accademia? Was it perhaps an encouragement of performance there of this often ornate style?

In speculating on this question the paper will touch on the place of this anthology in Bolognese music printing of the 1680s and in the city’s thriving musical activity. It will explore Silvani’s representative choice of composers and their individual styles of cantata composition. By offering brief analyses of the music and texts, it will examine the question of a “Bolognese cantata style” and will remark on the eclecticism and traditional pragmatism of Bolognese composers. It will illuminate this anthology as a unique and valuable cross-section of Bolognese cantata activity in the 1680s.

horizontal rule

Moira Leanne Hill

Rethinking the Role of Continuo in the Accompaniment of Schütz’s Vocal Works

Modern organists faced with the task of accompanying one of Heinrich Schütz’s vocal compositions generally believe they have a choice between two alternatives: realizing the continuo part extemporaneously or playing from the realization provided in one of several recent editions. Yet there is a third option available to them, one which Schütz himself favored. In the prefaces to three of his collections of vocal music (Psalmen Davids [1619], Cantiones sacrae [1625], and Geistliche Chormusik [1648]), the composer articulated his belief that organists should accompany his vocal compositions from detailed intabulations of the vocal parts prepared ahead of time. Playing from a continuo part alone was for him the hallmark of a lazy, ignorant, and musically-insensitive accompanist.

Gregory Johnston has brought the existence of this alternative accompanimental practice, which he calls polyphonic keyboard accompaniment, to the attention of modern scholars and performers in a 1998 article published in Early Music. Since that time the discussion has remained on a theoretical level, with knowledge of this procedure and an understanding of its proper application in performance settings widely lacking among organists faced with practical concerns.

This paper aims to bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical by providing an examination of written-out accompaniments to vocal compositions by Schütz and his contemporaries taken from two central German tablature manuscripts dating to the early to mid-seventeenth century. These two compilations, Mus. ms. 40 075 and Mus. ms. 40 158 located in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, provide direct evidence for the practice of performing from prepared accompaniments. For the organist desiring a more historically informed performance of Schütz’s vocal works, the intabulations from these two manuscripts can serve as models that guide the modern musician toward an accompaniment that shows both sensitivity to shifts between polyphonic and homophonic textures in the music as well as a respect for the integrity of the outer voices. The discussion will focus largely on the six accompaniments to works from Psalmen Davids in Mus. ms. 40 158, which will be used to create a set of guidelines for organists to follow in the preparation of their own accompaniment parts.

horizontal rule

Stephanie Tritton

The Sources of Henry Lawes’s About the Sweet Bag of a Bee: “Which of the two is likeliest to afford the true correct Copies?”

Henry Lawes was one of only a handful of composers in seventeenth-century England who were actively engaged in the publication of their own works. Lawes compiled three books of songs, entitled Ayres and Dialogues, which were published by John Playford in 1653, 1655, and 1658. Comparison between Lawes’s surviving autograph manuscript, British Library Add. MS 53723, and these three vocal collections clearly demonstrates the composer’s revisions and re-workings in preparation for the printed books. Contemporary to the Ayres and Dialogues volumes are various John Playford multi-composer vocal anthologies, also containing Lawes’s compositions, dating from as early as 1652. Notably, Lawes openly questioned the reliability and authority of Playford’s 1652 collection in the preface to his 1653 compilation, thereby setting himself up as the more authoritative source.

This paper focuses on the intriguing case-study of Lawes’s song “About the sweet bag of a bee”: a popular triple-time setting of a text by Robert Herrick. The surviving manuscript and print sources make this song an ideal case-study for an investigation into the extent of textual fixity in Restoration England. Through a focus on variations found between the manuscript and contemporary print sources, I will explore how, despite his input into the publishing process, Lawes was unable to fix the identity of the work through the supposedly stable medium of print and therefore was unable to ensure the long-term dissemination of a version of the piece. By way of contrast, I will also examine the important role of the editor-publisher (Playford) in the establishment of stable musical texts, which were not necessarily less authoritative than those produced by the composer.

horizontal rule

Sarah Williams

Dysfunctional Musical Notation in the English Broadside Ballad of the Later Seventeenth Century

The broadside ballad, a curious artifact of early modern English popular culture, combined poetry, woodcut images, and music. A single sheet tabloid publication, broadsides appealed to a wide range of social classes because their titillating verses employed tunes, named in the ballad text, that were widely known in oral circulation. Literary historians and musicologists such as Tessa Watt, Diana Poulton, Claude Simpson, John Ward, Bruce Smith, and Leslie Shepherd have, over the past several decades, charted the broadside ballad’s role in shaping Tudor-Stuart popular culture, and created systems for cataloging the ephemeral repertoire of popular song employed in ballad street performance. Later in the seventeenth century, however, some broadsides do begin to appear with, ostensibly, their accompanying tune’s musical notation printed below the title. For example, printed notation, sometimes with the ballad’s first stanza situated below the notes, appears on broadsides paired with tunes such as “Packington’s Pound,” so common it had been in oral circulation for nearly a century, as well as learned music such as Henry Purcell’s “If Love’s a Sweet Passion” from The Fairy-Queen of 1692. This notation was often comically inaccurate or grossly nonsensical, even for these well known examples, and its very inclusion therefore begs questions that previous musicological studies on early modern English broadside balladry and popular song have not broached. What was the function of musical notation in this print medium for a semi-literate population who relied upon visual cues and memory aids in their everyday lives? Was this notation included as an identifying symbol for the broadside genre itself? Was it sheer novelty or merely ornamental?

Through an analysis of the social permeation and representation of popular song (including music by Purcell adopted by the ballad trade), as well as patterns in early modern print and musical literacy, this paper will not only suggest correlations between this dysfunctional printed music and early modern visual culture, but will also position the broadside ballad as a case study for the relevance of musical notation to a society in transition from oral to literate culture.

[back to top]


Paper Session II — Short Session A
Friday, 24 April 2009, 2:30–3:40 p.m.

Claire Fontijn

E torbidossi Senna”: The Telling of History in Strozzi’s Lamento (opp. 2–3)

A solo cantata noteworthy for its recurrence throughout her oeuvre, Strozzi’s Lamento—“Sul Rodano severo”—appeared first in op. 2 (1651), next reprinted in op. 3 (1654). One section of the cantata features a ravishing basso ostinato; Strozzi would revive that same ostinato, transposed, in her serenata, “Hor che Apollo e Teti,” op. 8 (1664).

The  Lamento takes us from the banks of the Rhone (“Rodano”) to those of the Seine (“Senna”) to tell the tale of Henri d’Effiat Coiffier de Ruzé, marquis de Cinq-Mars (1620–42). Cardinal Richelieu supervised the education of Cinq-Mars and brought him to the court of King Louis XIII. While many were attracted to the charming youth, his most celebrated love affair was with Marie Gonzaga. The unfortunate marquis became a pawn for the cardinal and the king as they vied for power, culminating in his beheading. Strozzi’s anonymous text has been all but unknown to historians of France; writers from Alfred de Vigny to Philippe Erlanger and François Bluche offer varying opinions about the Cinq-Mars “plot.” Strozzi’s text points to King Louis XIII as the guilty party. Emanuele Senici and Davide Daolmi read the cantata through a homoerotic lens, suggesting that it would have appealed to members of the Accademia degli Incogniti, Strozzi’s intended audience.

What might have been Strozzi’s motivation to dramatize the story of Cinq-Mars one decade after his death? Giulio Strozzi’s La finta pazza was revived in Paris in 1645; Barbara Strozzi set a text from that opera in op. 2, “Costume de grandi.” Strozzi had considerable contact with Mantua throughout the 1650s: she dedicated op. 2 to Eleonora Gonzaga as a wedding gift, after which she obtained the patronage of Eleonora’s brother, Carlo II Gonzaga, duke of Mantua. Recent evidence reveals that the duke had a baritone voice and solicited music from Strozzi, contacting her during a Parisian sojourn about a lost book—in all likelihood her mysterious missing op. 4. Against this backdrop of intrigue, this paper examines the music of the cantata, paying particular attention to the ways in which Strozzi symbolized the dramatis personae in both voice and continuo parts.

horizontal rule

John Higney

“He is Much Lamented”: Poems in Praise of Purcell Reconsidered

Henry Purcell’s passing in 1695 elicited an expression of public grief unprecedented in the history of English music, and poems marking his death appeared almost immediately. These poetic commemorations are the focus of this paper. Some texts bear the marks of hasty composition, and most certainly were not offered as enduring works of art; rather, they were occasional pieces and, as such, were not necessarily meant to withstand either the passing of time or close critical scrutiny. Nonetheless, when considered as a collection, they offer valuable insights into Purcell reception at an early stage in its development.

Despite this wealth of material, only a few Purcell scholars have ever investigated the verses. Unfortunately, those who have studied the commemorative texts have generally treated them as little more than the artless flotsam of a long-passed culture. This paper argues that the poetic tributes, in fact, were highly stylised occasional pieces that descended from a venerable critical tradition. To be sure, educated eighteenth-century readers certainly would have recognised the uneven technical quality of the poetry, but there can be little doubt that they also would have immediately apprehended the ancient tradition of epideictic poetry to which the texts belong.

Unlike earlier considerations of the commemorative poems, this paper recognises that the historical value of the texts lies in their cultural function and not their aesthetic success or failure. The commemorative verse is read both in terms of its place within the epideictic tradition—among the oldest in western poetics—and in the immediate cultural context. Reading the texts thus affords important insight into the earliest stages of Purcell’s emergence as a central figure in the English canon.

The epideictic tradition (poetry of ceremony, patriotic festivals, commemoration, births, funerals, etc.) to which the verses belong will be outlined, accompanied by a technical description of classical elegiac modes, genres, and common elegiac tropes. This technical discussion will be further augmented by an account of the public function of the epideictic mode. The poems by John Dryden and Nahum Tate will be offered as examples of Christian and pagan elegiac modes respectively.

[back to top]

It’s a Man’s World

Paper Session II — Short Session B
Friday, 24 April 2009, 4:10–5:20 p.m.

Candace Bailey

The Challenge of Domesticity in Men’s Manuscripts in Restoration England

For some years now, seventeenth-century English manuscripts associated with women have attracted scholars’ attention, resulting in new appreciations of music in the context of women’s experiences. Curiously, while we have been willing to question every aspect of women’s books, almost no attempt has been made to re-examine men’s manuscripts of the same period. Thus, while modern cultural and social studies have informed our understanding of women’s music, our ideas about men’s music have remained comparatively static.

Recently, in his edition of a newly discovered manuscript, Peter Leech wrote that “an understanding of the [development of new keyboard styles] is hampered by the lack of surviving comprehensive manuscript collections from this period.” That this situation is a “problem” is driven by several modern assumptions of what a “collection” is. Leech further comments that “apart from concordances, these sources offer few clues . . . to help set the music in a wider context.” The real problem here is that the “wider context” we have often sought does not exist in the ways we traditionally categorize men’s manuscripts from this period.

For example, in the same preface, Leech uses the term “domestic” twice and both times in quotation marks, as if the term somehow doesn’t fit but is universally understood. Another editor of a related volume comments that “the very domesticity of these collections is responsible for their present neglect.” Thus, “domestic” seems to be a drawback and does not allow us to look at the “real” music—which is presumably in “professional” manuscripts. Both sources described here belonged to men.

By forcing manuscripts into a limited number of categories and then making conclusions as a result of their categorization, we run the risk of misreading these volumes. The same scrutiny applied to women’s manuscripts needs to be applied to those associated with men. This paper will show how traditional categories of seventeenth-century keyboard manuscripts can give us the wrong impressions about musical contexts. I will use the Selosse MS and Lbl Add. 31403 to show that our ideas of a “professional” manuscript are anachronistic and misleading.

horizontal rule

Jeremy Mikush

Musical and Dramatic Depiction of Male Friendship and Love in Charpentier’s David et Jonathas

Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s David et Jonathas (1688) has been noted by scholars as one of the composer’s most intriguing works of music theater. A major element of intrigue, the nature of the relationship between David and Jonathan, both in Charpentier’s day and our own, remains contested by cultural and religious scholars. A relationship that avoids simple categorization, I argue that their relationship is best informed by investigating early modern depictions of male love and friendship important to the making of early modern men and masculinity. These forms include military and political bonds, the Jesuit education tradition, Neoplatonic friendship and love, and homoerotic and romantic depictions of men from both sixteenth- and seventeenth-century visual art and sculpture.

My analysis of two scenes between David and Jonathan uses all the above considerations as well as the conventions of tragédie en musique. The strong relationship of the dessus/haut-contre dynamic and the gendered associations of these voice types in the theater; the amorous associations of the chaconne divertissement; and the powerful Italian-influenced musical language wed to Bretonneau’s sparse poetry all play a role in creating a relationship that was ideal for both private debate in the Jesuit university setting and contemporary public events affecting the social circles of Louis XIV and his immediate family. My aim is to recognize the complexities that composer and librettist accepted in choosing this subject for public performance in 1688 and how these relationships affect our views of this Biblical tale in music today.

[back to top]

Controlling Bodies

Paper Session III
Saturday, 25 April 2009, 9-11:50 a.m.

Hendrik Schulze

French Dance and Italian Politics: The Case of the Opera Silvio re degli Albani (Turin, 1689)

During the reign of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715), the aesthetics of dance and dance music gained considerable political significance. Set in sharp contrast to Italian music, it was used to define the French king’s position in society, and to project French cultural superiority. In the absolutist, centralized state of Louis XIV it was easy to establish such a political aesthetics. The much more complex situation in Italy however meant that there was no unified Italian response to the French position. Using a case study, this paper proposes to demonstrate how Italian political aesthetics of dance and dance music could be derived from French examples, and how they differed from them.

The opera Silvio, re degli Albani (libretto by Pietro d’Averara, music by Domenico Gabrielli) was performed at the Teatro Reggio, Turin, in 1689, as ordered by the young duke of Savoy, Vittorio Amedeo II. The opera mirrors his current political position between the Imperial side and the French, incorporating both Italianspecifically, Venetian—and French elements, for which he hired an Italian, Domenico Gabrielli, to compose and direct the opera, and a French dancing master, Paul La Pierre, to compose the dance music.

However, the score, preserved at the Biblioteca Estense, Modena, reveals that the situation is more complex. It contains music by both composers, who seem to have entered into a friendly competition for the audience’s favor, each composing an overture in the particular style of his nation. But Gabrielli also experimented in his arias with French dance forms such as the minuet, whereas La Pierre seems to have used Italian models for some of his dances. Thus, in combining or, indeed, confronting the French with the Italian view on dance in particular and the image each nation had of the other’s dance aesthetics, Silvio re degli Albani also provides us with a clear picture of the complex intercultural relationship between the two nations.

horizontal rule

McDowell Kenley

Mattaccini, Moresche, and the Commedia dell’Arte, with a Note on Gesture and Political Subtext

Il Mattaccino and La Mattaccinata have been called the dances “par excellence of the commedia dell’arte. Yet these moresque dances, characterized by grotesque gestures and performed by masked mimes called matachins, did not originate in the commedia. Acrobatic mountebanks played humorous skits (giuochi) and mad pantomimic choreography in a variety of contexts prior to the association of mattaccinate with the Italian improvised theater. Matachins were encountered at renaissance banquets, outdoor spectacles, and in sacre rappresentazioni, intermedii, carnival mascherate and villanelle.

Giovanni Battista Doni clarifies the way in which mattaccinate were introduced into the commedia. Doni describes the inclusion of these giuochi as improvised digressions within a play (sometimes called lazzi). Such interpolations are exemplified in written plays by Giovanni Battisti Andreini. A scene in the comedy Lo schiavetto is accompanied by mattaccini. The 1613 edition of L’Adamo provides unique iconography: an engraving of the Coro di folletti in forma di mattaccini shows nymphs and shepherds performing a round (carola). Jacques Callot also depicts such a carola, performed in familiar commedia costumes (one seventeenth-century source links mattaccini to the balli di Sfessania, which also appear in Callot’s engravings).

Andreini’s work helped to pave the way for the introduction of matachins into the ballets de cour and comédie-ballets of Molière and Lully. Matassins appear in ballets composed by Lully for Cavalli’s Xerse, and were incorporated in the intermedii for Molière’s Monsieur de Pourceaugnac.  Carlo Goldoni—whose model was Molière—seems to associate matachins with theatrical reform.  In his La scuola di ballo, Goldoni contrasts matachins with classical figures of the opera seriafigures that often represented the ancien régime

Political subtexts were often present in the commedia and in the matachin’s pantomimic gesture. In the sixteenth century, ancient Atellanae had been described by Bernardo Davanzatti as “seditious and vulgar matachins,” who were expelled from the realm—a fate experienced by Italian comedians during the reign of Louis XIV. Political subtexts and obscene gestures remain part of matachines dances of the American southwest even today, and there may be structural parallels with the commedia to be found in these entertainments.

horizontal rule

George Torres

The Lute, the Body, and Civility: The Social Gesture of Musical Performance in Seventeenth-Century France

Beginning with the work of Castiglione and continuing through the writings of Erasmus and others who followed, efforts at codifying a system of comportment and behavior among the upper classes in early modern Europe were important in the development of a process of civilization and manners. Specifically within the ancien régime, Courtin’s Nouveau traité de la civilité  (1671), which went through many translations and multiple editions well into the eighteenth century, had a profound influence on seventeenth-century civility.  Regarding the spectacle of musical performance, these writings prescribed an environment that was tightly controlled with regard to social behavior on the parts of the players and auditors. Furthermore, period treatises on playing the lute give specific rules regarding body comportment, venues, and discretion.

Based on recent methodologies in the study of gesture (Muchembled and Roodenburg), period treatises on civility (Courtin), and period French lute tutors, this paper shows how seventeenth-century lute performance was used by the dominant class as a means of counter-example to lower-class behavior, and that the extra musical performative elements, which include the choice of instrument, a controlled performance environment, and a strict structural code of body and gesture, were all used to impart a sense of superiority among participants, both performer and audience.  Finally, I will show that the broader context of seventeenth-century civilité helped to reinforce a cultural bi-polarization between the lower and dominant classes of seventeenth-century French society.

horizontal rule

Margaret Murata

Toward a Rhetoric of Harmony: “Movimenti di anima” (et di corpo) in the Italian Solo Cantata

Marked shifts in harmonic areas have long been recognized as an essential expressive technique of Italian recitative passages, in both monologues and dialogues. Far from using harmony simply as word-dependent musical symbols, however, Italian composers planned such shifts strategically, forming expressive shapes that amount to far more than chains of contrasting segments. With excerpts from mid-century solo works (e.g., by Kapsberger, Mihi, Domenico Mazzocchi, Barbara Strozzi, and Stradella), this paper illustrates how harmonic markers combine with shifts in other musical properties to suggest physical postures (such as fixity, movement toward, kneeling, collapse, motions opposite to these), whether indicated by the poetry or not, which as they change communicate “movements of the soul.”

This presentation spends little time on cases in which the evocation of gesture in music illustrates a narrative scene. Rather, given that the comportment of the body has strong relational significance in the seventeenth century—sometimes an expressly social relation (e.g., deference, defiance), sometimes emotional (hate, gratitude), the selected examples focus on how behavior evoked by musical means emphasizes, animates, and gives meaning to the one-sided dialogues that characterize many monologues.

[back to top]

Other Spaces, Other Worlds

Paper Session IV — Short Session A
Saturday, 25 April 2009, 2:30–3:40 p.m.

Geoffrey Burgess

Envoicing the Divine: Oracles in Lyric and Spoken Drama in Late Seventeenth-Century France

The use of oracles was borrowed from classical Greek tragedy and became essential to the dramatic unfolding of both spoken and lyric drama of grand siècle. Often paradoxically incomplete or ambiguous, oracles hint at the unfathomable mystery of divinity. They presage the central predicament of the drama, and the quest to unravel their mysterious meaning inevitably forces the drama’s characters to play out the very scenario predicted by the oracle. Beginning in works from Lully’s later period, oracles were often pronounced by a disembodied voice heard from beyond the earthly realm represented on stage and became a crucial element in the tragédie en musique of Lully’s successors.

Using as its point of departure the critique of the conventional treatment of oracles in La Fontaine’s novel Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon, written at the time that the tragédie en musique was taking form, this paper examines the intersections between the representation of oracles in spoken and sung French stage works. It considers the most obvious point of contact—the poetic formulae used to distinguish oracular utterances from the speech of mortals—and develops a theory of the lyrical enunciation implied by the verse form and how this was taken up by composers in operatic settings.

Most often oracular utterances in spoken drama—whether an “authentic” oracle intoned by the divinity him- or herself, or quoted by a mortal character—comprise shorter verses than the alexandrine standard to mortal dialogue. This not only imbues the oracle with an “otherness” but suggests a different performative quality, and at the same time it suggests a more lyrical style of delivery. In the operatic context Lully and his followers transposed this lyrical quality by choosing to set oracles to a chant-like declamatory vocal line enshrouded in a harmonic halo which serves to underscore the sanctity of these utterances—a harmonic embodiment of the divine presence. Examples will be drawn from works by Lully, Destouches, and Campra that exhibit this musical evolution across the last decades of the seventeenth century.

horizontal rule

Blake Stevens

Theatrical Space and Narrative in Atys and Armide

Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century critics of the tragédie en musique distinguished opera from drama in part through its treatment of theatrical space. Jean Terrasson, for instance, writing in the Dissertation critique sur l’Iliade d’Homère (1715), argued that the tragédie en musique presented “to the eyes of the spectators those intermediary actions that in other tragedies are only the subjects of narration, such as religious ceremonies, public celebrations, combats, or natural effects like tempests, or supernatural effects like sudden metamorphoses.” The centrality of spectacle was linked to these natural and supernatural effects, which belonged to the category of the “marvelous” (le merveilleux). In presenting actions and characters drawn from epic poetry, opera placed a strong emphasis on spectacle; through the use of stage machinery, frequent changes of setting, and dance, opera fulfilled what Catherine Kintzler has described as the “imperative” of visibility. The result is a dramatic form that makes a more direct appeal to the visual aspect of tragedy than French neoclassical theater, with its emphasis on the “unity of place” and dramatic discourse.

Modern accounts of the tragédie en musique have largely followed seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sources in treating this generic distinction as fundamental. This paper argues that the dramaturgies of individual works may complicate this distinction. It explores the ways in which the tragédie en musique allowed for the constructive use of both mimetic (onstage) and diegetic (offstage) space. The offstage and unseen world implied by the plot assumes reality through narrative references, which may appear on a small scale as inflections within dramatic dialogue or on a broader scale as extended discourses set apart from dialogue. The close relationship between these forms of narrative and the strategic use of offstage space is illustrated through examples from two operas of Lully and Quinault: Atys (1676) and Armide (1686). In addition to drawing attention to the importance of narrative and theatrical space for this repertory, this paper explores the stylistic techniques Lully used to articulate these narrative utterances within dialogue.

[back to top]

Crossing Cultures

Paper Session IV — Short Session B
Saturday, 25 April 2009, 4:10-5:20 p.m.

Rebekah Ahrendt

Jean-Jacques Quesnot de la Chenée, entrepreneur d’opéra

In 1707, Jean-Jacques Quesnot de la Chenée produced the livrets for two operatic works: La Bataille de Hoogstet, tragédie en musique and La Bataille de Ramelie ou Les glorieuses conquests des Alliez, pastorale héroïque. He dedicated them to the burgomasters of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, respectively, in a last desperate attempt to succeed on the operatic stage after a career full of misadventures. Both works laud Allied victories, but from a particular perspective—that of a French Huguenot exile.

A self-described “entrepreneur d’opéra,” Quesnot’s career was nearly as pan-European as the War of the Spanish Succession. His attempts to produce opera led him throughout Allied lands, but his repertoire was always French. For Quesnot, there was no other opera. Yet, at nearly every turn, Quesnot’s attempts were foiled. His many writings reveal his frustrations: despite his status as a naturalized Dutch citizen, he was accused of being a French spy and an atheist; treated poorly by the Dutch legal system for not knowing the language; denied a privilege in Amsterdam for being a foreigner; and forced to defend his occupation against his own religion.

Quesnot’s career tracks the dwindling of the special privileges accorded to Huguenots in the Dutch Republic after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Negative feelings toward the réfugiés began growing in Amsterdam in the 1690s. Rotterdam, on the other hand, remained a power center, but the Huguenot community there was divided between the apocalyptic proclamations of Pierre Jurieu and the worldliness of Pierre Bayle. Contrary to the popular belief fostered by Huguenot historiography, they were hardly a model minority, and until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, they were sure that they would someday be able to return to France. They remained culturally and linguistically distinct.

Based on a number of documents heretofore unstudied, this paper brings to light a whole other world of French operatic performance, one that catered to those displaced whether by choice or by force. Though Quesnot was ultimately unsuccessful, the impact of French émigrés on music in the Dutch Republic and elsewhere explodes notions of the insularity of French opera.

horizontal rule

Kenneth Stilwell

Adopting Rituals: The Jesuits and the Huron Noël Jesous Ahatonia

In the eastern woodlands of Huron Country, the chiefs of the Wendat people publicly denounced the Jesuit missionaries living amongst them for the hideous diseases paralyzing their people. As the accusations rose to a feverish pitch in 1637, Father Jean de Brébeuf and his fellow companions in the Society of Jesus felt their own deaths might come suddenly at the hands of young braves. Knowing full well that any Wendat must gaze upon death’s shadow with clarity and courage, Father Brébeuf, in keeping with Wendat custom, held an atsataion ceremony, a “Last Supper,” where he spoke of Christian beliefs concerning life after death. Miraculously, all of the Wendat threats subsided.

As this episode from Canadian mission history illustrates, the very survival of the Jesuits depended on a profound understanding of Wendat language and culture, just as linguistic and cultural embodiment was essential to their efforts to save Huron souls.  The Jesuits adopted many strategies to win Huron converts, including the use of music as a subtle means to further their religious mission.  Against the backdrop of Huron culture, this paper presents a case study of the parody noël Jesous Ahatonia, whose Wendat text is attributed to Father Brébeuf.  At first glance, the noël appears to be an innocuous presentation of the Nativity for didactic purposes; yet in the context of Huron culture, by directly relating a Huron ritual to the Jesuits’ own rite of conversion, this noël illustrates the persuasive strategies of Jesuit rhetoric.

Jesous Ahatonia is not fully either a Jesuit or Huron creation; thus this paper seeks to understand the noël, beyond dichotomy, in terms of the shaping forces which created the work.  In particular, the concept of orality as developed by Walter Ong reveals the inner mechanics of the persuasive rhetoric that structures this noël.  The notion of shaping forces offers a malleable construct for interpreting ways in which native communities subsequently engaged with parody noëls.

[back to top]

Morality and Spirituality

Paper Session V
Sunday, 26 April 2009, 9-11:50 a.m.

Mary E. Frandsen

The Anthologies of Ambrosius Profe (1589–1661) and Lutheran Spirituality

Between 1641 and 1649, the organist Ambrosius Profe (1589–1661) of Breslau (now Wrocław) published six anthologies of sacred music by Italian composers such as Monteverdi, Grandi, and Rovetta. Inventories of music collections reveal that these prints were widely owned by Lutheran schools, churches, and courts. To date, the scholarly attention to these prints has focused on their important role in the dissemination of Italian music in Germany. But in his textual selections and contrafacta, Profe also displayed a decided preference for Christocentric devotional texts, which comprise between 25 and 50 percent of the non-liturgical texts in each collection. Such texts, which represent something new in the history of Lutheran music, relate these anthologies directly to the revitalization of Lutheran spirituality that occurred in the seventeenth century, known today as “new piety” (neue Frömmigkeit). This revitalization began early in the century with the writings of such theologians as Arndt and Gerhard, and continued to intensify throughout the succeeding decades. Throughout this period, numerous theologians published devotional manuals in which they stressed the importance of prayer and meditation, and encouraged the cultivation of a highly personalized, often mystical relationship with Christ. In the 1620s, Lutheran composers began to respond to these developments in spiritual life, particularly this new emphasis on Christocentric devotion, with musical settings of devotional texts such as those found in Schütz’s Cantiones sacrae (1625). Around 1640, however, the number of publications including devotional music began to increase markedly, with composers such as Ahle, Hammerschmidt, Rosenmüller, Werlin, and others contributing to the repertoire. Profe’s anthologies represent an essential part of this heightened musical response to the new piety and contributed a substantial amount of devotional music to the Lutheran repertoire at this time. In my paper, I will situate Profe’s volumes within the larger context of seventeenth-century Lutheran piety and devotion, and illustrate the striking similarities in content, voice, language, and intensity of a number of the texts with the prayers and meditations found in Lutheran prayer books from this era, particularly those of Moller, Arndt, Gerhard, and Herberger.

horizontal rule

Anthony Alms

Sound Theology: Musical Morality in the Opera Seelewig

The classic human conflict between the spirit and the flesh is a recurrent motif in early sacred opera. Cavalieri’s La rappresentazione di anima e di corpo, for instance, dramatizes Christianity’s traditional view that the soul must learn to resist worldly temptation. Cavalieri’s opera inspired a number of works with similar plots, among them an anonymous German Jesuit drama entitled Die glückseelige Seele. This work was the direct model for Seelewig (text by Georg Harsdörffer, music by Sigmund Staden), the earliest fully extant German “opera.”

Seelewig resembles its Catholic antecedents in a number of ways, not least in its didactic story about the earthly sojourn of the human soul and in its pastoral-allegorical conventions. Despite these appropriations, though, Seelewig contains thematic elements unique to its Central German context. Indeed, Mara Wade views the work as a “literary contrafacture” in which Catholic themes like the mystical marriage of the soul and its progress, via good works, toward salvation are “revised” to appeal to Protestant sensibilities.

Such observations, though interesting and consequential, are typically limited to literary topoi. Yet Seelewig is also the product of a great deal of theorizing, on the part of Harsdörffer and his poetic circle, about the nature of language and music on a purely sonic level. The work is much more than just a literary contrafacture. It uses sound itself to represent, on a deeply conceptual level, something of humanity’s relationship to God. In Harsdörffer’s linguistic “cosmology,” pure, unarticulated vowel sounds (without clear beginnings or endings) represent the eternal soul—“Seelewig,” humankind’s divine part—while consonants often mimic the physical world. The perfectly formed word “prefers” vowel sounds, just as the properly pious human being allows spirit to govern matter.

In this paper I will explore the sonic landscape of Seelewig. A fresh reading of Staden’s score as (in part) a musical realization of Harsdörffer’s poetic theories offers important insights into Seelewig’s theological-conceptual distinctiveness vis-à-vis sacred Italian opera, and, more broadly, into the role of non-verbal sound—and by extension instrumental music—in the early development of German opera.

horizontal rule

Christine Getz

Mulier fortis, Virgo potens, Regina Sanctissimi Rosarii: Crushing the Serpent with Marian Music in Post-Tridentine Milan

Constructed by the Dominicans between 1480 and 1495, the Milanese church of Santa Maria della Rosa was devoted to the Madonna of the Rosary and sponsored her attendant confraternity.  The extant archival documentation pertaining to the church reveals that at the close of the sixteenth century, the male and female members of the confraternity aggressively collected relics and pursued a decoration program to which the organ was central.  This decoration program emphasized the Virgin’s role as mulier fortis, an image of the Madonna victorious that figured prominently in meditations on the Rosary and Marian miracle books circulating during the period.

Although the organ fulfilled certain visual requirements in the decoration of Santa Maria della Rosa, its primary purpose was to support a sounding scriptural exegesis that was delivered in the form of sacred concertos composed by the church’s organists, among whom were Agostino Soderini and Andrea Cima.  Andrea Cima’s Il secondo libro delli concerti (1627) is of particular interest in this regard, for its concertos focus largely upon scriptures long considered central to the construction of Mary’s biography and, therefore, to the glorification of the Virgin as both an intercessor in the battle against the infidel and the principal exemplar of feminine virtue.

The use of polyphony to forward the cult of the Madonna of the Rosary in Milan was not, however, confined to public spaces. Many of the responsibilities of its members could be fulfilled in either a public or a private setting.  Consequently, locally printed collections of polyphony that emphasized the attributes of the mulier fortis appeared in the form of musical Rosaries and deschi di parto inspired by women and intended for private use by them.

horizontal rule

Jonathan Glixon

Sirens of the Lagoon: Singing Nuns at Murano in the Seventeenth Century

In the Baroque era, Venetian nuns, as I have shown elsewhere, did not usually perform music for others to hear. With the public’s desire to hear women’s voices satisfied by the girls of the ospedali, the authorities were able to enforce the modest behavior they felt appropriate for the city’s nuns.  In the first half of the seventeenth century, however, one nunnery broke with this pattern: the relatively new Benedictine house of SS. Marco e Andrea (founded in 1496 and rebuilt in 1611–17), on the nearby island of Murano. In the 1620s the talents of several nuns attracted to its church an Italian grand-duke, an Italian duchess, and a French prince, among others. The unauthorized visit of an English noblewoman created a serious problem for the abbess, who nearly lost her post. Twenty years later, the composer Carlo Filago published the only known seventeenth-century music performed by a Venetian nun, once again from SS. Marco e Andrea.

In this paper, using documents in the Venetian State and Patriarchal archives, I examine the silence of Venetian nuns in general, and the exceptional case of SS. Marco e Andrea. I discuss the accounts of visits to the nunnery to hear music, and the legal case ensuing from one of these visits. I also consider the motets of Filago’s 1642 Sacri concerti, composed for one of the nuns there to sing.

horizontal rule

Program Committee: Linda Austern (chair), Jonathan B. Gibson, Colleen Reardon, Andrew H. Weaver

[back to top]

News Room Event Calendar Registrar:   - Academic Calendar   - Academic Policies Institute for Music Leadership   - Arts Leadership Technology & Media Prod.   - Password Changes U of R Directory Reserve a Room Report a Piano Problem Rehearsal Schedule Voyager Bookstore Working at UR   - HRMS