Little known and unfamiliar music in Barcelona libraries

It’s the old adage about the buses: you wait ages for a bus and then two come at once. Last week saw two presentations on music in Barcelona libraries, both based on long-term research projects and both illustrated by musical interventions to illustrate the repertories being discussed by the Companya Musical directed by Josep Cabré.

full_inner_page The first took place in the Sala d’Assaig de l’Orfeó Català in the Palau de la Música and formed part of the on-going project known by the acronym IFMUC (‘Inventaris dels Fons Musicals de Catalunya’) led by Josep Maria Gregori at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. As its name suggests, this project aims to catalogue all the musical sources in Catalan archives—and not just those of the big cities. Nine catalogues have already appeared under Gregori’s supervision and the work continues apace. On this occasion (Monday 21 November 2016), the latest volume in a series of small-format music editions entitled Quaderns del Fons Musicals de Catalunya / Maestres Catalans Antics was presented, and several works performed from it by Companya Musical. Volume 8, edited by Bernat Cabré, presents works preserved in manuscript E-Boc 59 that forms part of the collection of music manuscripts at the Centre de Documentació de l’Orfeó Català (CEDOC). This manuscript was hitherto little known (it was rediscovered only in 2011), and has recently been restored (in 2013, under the aegis of CEDOC’s director, Marta Grassot) and studied by Cabré (2016). Happily it was on display for the presentation: it is not an excessively large book, nor highly decorated, but neatly notated to fulfill its function of a depository of polyphonic repertory, largely, but not exclusively, associated with Holy Week.

Manuscript 59 contains about 80 sacred works, added over the course of the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to an anthology that was begun in Vic in or around 1561. It was at one time connected with the parish church of St Miquel in Barcelona. Many of these works have no attribution, but the repertory is clearly largely that of local composers working in different churches in Vic and Barcelona and works by international composers that were known and performed in those institutional circles: it includes Morales’s Missa Super fa re et fa sol la as well as Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. The selection of works edited by Cabré includes hymns, motets and responsories by the best-known composer of the period, Joan Pujol (570-1626), as well as the less familiar church musicians Pere Beuló (fl.1579-1584), Pere Riquet (fl.1598-1619), Joan Borgueres (fl.1612-1616) and Pere Egidi Fonseca (17th century). The works we heard performed by the Companyia Musical were largely homophonic, though Pujol’s brief five-voice setting of Benedicamus Domino has a more imitative texture. Indeed, on the basis of the fifteen works by local Catalan church musicians included in the edition, the repertory seems somewhat unadventurous, even allowing for the strictures of the Council of Trent, so famously embodied in Palestrina’s Mass. Nevertheless, it is extremely useful to have this small volume, and it is to be hoped that a more detailed study of MS 59 and its repertory will be forthcoming.

f_iiiiv1On Thursday 24 November 2016 the venue changed to the Biblioteca de Catalunya for a concert of anonymous polyphonic works from the much better known manuscript E-Bbc M454, again performed by Companya Musical in the Sala de Llevant as part of the important early music festival which has been establishing itself in the Barcelona concert calendar over the last few years under the energetic and clear-sighted direction of Xavier Alern: Ars Longa. III Cicle de Música Histórica i Patrimoni de Barcelona. This manuscript has already been studied in detail by Emilio Ros-Fábregas and offers a much more ambitious and international compilation, but its anonyma—as is usually the case—are rarely commented upon. Ros-Fábregas has studied these works anew as part of the research project under his direction at the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC)—‘Libros de polifonía hispana (1450-1650): catálogo sistemático y contexto historico-cultural’—and he gave an interesting introduction to MS M454 that summarized its structure and the place of the anonymous works within it. With Josep Cabré he devised a programme that followed the structural outline of the Proper of the Mass, with some plainchant, and a selection of the anonymous polyphonic works. Much of the Mass music sounded pretty much late-fifteenth century Franco-Netherlandish, but the motet Ave Maria tu individur seemed to be going in a different direction, and could easily be by a Franco-Netherlander of the Josquin period, or even possibly by a Spanish composer with an international outlook such as Francisco de Peñalosa. The last work in the programme—and the only one with an attribution—was Anchieta’s setting of the Salve Regina, which brought out the most sustained singing from the vocal ensemble and made a strong impact. MS M454 is one of the most important manuscripts from the first half of the sixteenth century preserved in Barcelona, and, hopefully, Ros-Fábregas’s edition of the unica and anonyma will not be long in forthcoming: both the talk and the concert demonstrated their importance in any assessment of the musical repertory in circulation in sixteenth-century Barcelona.

TK  November 2016

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AMS/SMT Vancouver 2016 (3-6 November) and SEdeM Madrid 2016 (16-19 November)

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, venue of the conference

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, venue of the AMS conference

This month I have participated in two conferences presenting papers which are a result of my research as part of the Urbanmusics Project. First, I attended the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society (AMS), which took place in Vancouver (Canada) between 3 and 6 November, and delivered a paper entitled “Women, Urban Experiences of Music, and the Inquisition in the Early Modern Iberian World” in a session on “Early Modern Women” chaired by Nina Treadwell. I learned a lot from the contributions of Eleonora Beck (“More Than a Pretty violeta: Santa Caterina de’ Vigri’s Contributions to Renaissance Musical Culture”), Seth Coluzzi (“The First Songstress: The Fragmented History of Lucia Quinciani’s Monody of 1611”), and Sara Pecknold (“Pretiosissimo sangue: Giulio Strozzi and the Sacri musicali affetti (1655)”). It was the first time that I attended a AMS meeting and it was a very positive experience. I enjoyed the stimulating atmosphere of the conference and the helpful exchange of ideas, and came to know more about American academic life. I had the chance to attend a concert of the cycle “Early Music Vancouver” entitled “Breathtaking—A Voice and a Cornetto Entwined” at Christ Church Cathedral.

"Breathtaking—A Voice and a Cornetto Entwined", concert of the cycle "Early Music Vancouver" at Christ Church Cathedral on Friday, 4 November

“Breathtaking—A Voice and a Cornetto Entwined”, concert of the cycle “Early Music Vancouver” at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver,  on Friday, 4 November

A few days later I attended the conference of the Spanish Musicological Society (Sociedad Española de Musicología, SEdeM) at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid. It was also my first time at this quadrennial meeting, which was devoted to “Musicology in the twenty-first century: New challenges, new perspectives” (“Musicología en el siglo XXI: nuevos retos, nuevos enfoques”). I contributed with a paper on “Music for the ladies of the royal court in seventeenth-century Valladolid” (“Música para las damas de la Corte en el Valladolid del siglo XVII”) on Friday, 18 November, at a session on the circulation of music. It was interesting to participate in both conferences within a short lapse of time between the two events, as I was able to discover the latest approaches in musicological research and to rethink and develop my own work. [Ascensión Mazuela, 24/11/2016]

Barbara Eichner's paper "The Woman at the Well: Divine and Earthy Love in Orlando di Lasso’s Parody Masses" on Saturday, 5 November

AMS conference. Barbara Eichner’s paper “The Woman at the Well: Divine and Earthy Love in Orlando di Lasso’s Parody Masses” on Saturday, 5 November

David Irving's contribution to the round table "Toward a Critical World History of Music: Developing Theory for an Emergent Field" on Saturday, 5 November

AMS conference. David Irving’s contribution to the round table “Toward a Critical World History of Music: Developing Theory for an Emergent Field” on Saturday, 5 November



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Companion to Music in the Age of the Catholic Monarchs


Edited by Tess Knighton, ICREA / IMF-CSIC

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Workshop Art & Acoustics: multiple perspectives Universitat de Barcelona, 14 September 2016

artacoustics_flyer_vfinalThe archaeologist Margarita Díaz-Andreu (UB) organized a fascinating workshop which took place on the morning of 14 September based around various facets of the study of acoustical archaeology. This mixed the scholarly and technical with artistic expression, from prehistoric rock art to the creations of John Redhead who describes himself as an ‘artist using sound’ inspired by rock art and its physical, sounding space. The research undertaken by Margarida Díaz-Andreu and Tommaso Mattioli is coming up with some intriguing results, which are confirmed by current research in Finland (outlined at the workshop by Riitta Rainio and Kai Lassfolk): it seems that the caves where rock art has been found have special acoustical properties which can be measured and evaluated using the technology outlined by Tommaso Mattioli and Kai Lassfolk in their papers on acoustic measurements and recording techniques in the Western Mediterranean and Finland respectively. Carlos García Benito presented an introduction to the database of archaeo-organological evidence found in Iberian sites, and Raquel Jiménez Pasalodos spoke of the archaeoacoustic fieldwork and phenomenologically-based approach being developed by a project based at the University of Valladolid.

In her contribution on music and sound practices, Margarita Díaz-Andreu outlined methodological approaches to explore the socio-cultural implications of these results, taking the triangular relationship between rock art, sound and community as a starting-point. The sites chosen for rock art would appear to have been selected for their special acoustics, giving the site outward signification for the particular society or social grouping, while inward meaning, at least at a surface level, remains to be studied through what can be gleaned about religious and ritual practice, even if we are unable to reconstruct the deeper significance for those communities.

While there are clear differences of data and approach between archaeo-acoustic studies and urban musicology focusing on cities in the early modern period, the parallels in terms of research and aims were striking, and the technology developed could well prove adaptable to the acoustemological elements inherent in sound studies. [Tess Knighton]

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Interseccions: Congrés d’Història de la Música al País Valencià (Valencia, 13-15 October 2016)

Dinko Fabris’s inaugural lecture. From left to right: Ferran Escrivà, Dinko Fabris and Andrea Bombi

Dinko Fabris’s inaugural lecture. From left to right: Ferran Escrivà, Dinko Fabris and Andrea Bombi

Last week I participated in the conference ‘Interseccions’, which aimed to rethink Valencia music history in the light of recent historiographical perspectives and research approaches. The title ‘Intersections’ reflects pretty well the content of the conference and its planning and structure, which succeeded in establishing spaces for dialogue, paths for collaboration and meeting points between historical musicology, performance and ethnomusicology—following Joseph Kerman’s claim that musicology must draw closer to ethnomusicology just as history must draw closer to anthropology. Organised by Andrea Bombi and Ferran Escrivà at the Facultat de Geografia i Història, Universitat de València, and the Palau de les Arts, this conference brought together a number of invited professors who contributed to plenary sessions and dozens of researchers who presented short papers distributed in a variety of sessions.

Robert Kendrick’s lecture. From left to right: Alberto Hernández, Fátima Graciela Musri and Robert Kendrick

Robert Kendrick’s lecture. From left to right: Alberto Hernández, Fátima Graciela Musri and Robert Kendrick

The inaugural lecture by Dinko Fabris, President of the International Musicological Society (IMS), established one of the ideas that would be present throughout the conference: that the local could be a starting point to create new historical accounts. Three plenary sessions were devoted to historiography, institutions and biographies, respectively. These three sessions were structured as a lecture by a senior professor and two short responses by early-career musicologists or experts in disciplines different from musicology, such as history of art or medieval history. Robert Kendrick (University of Chicago) talked about the importance of the concept of ‘local’ music around 1600 at the session on historiography. For the session about institutions, Pilar Ramos (Universidad de La Rioja) presented a paper on the different roles played by musical institutions in historical accounts. Paolo Fabbri (Università di Ferrara) presented a lecture entitled ‘I musicisti hanno diri o di vita?’ at the session on biographies. I was able to present a short response (‘Redes musicales y el estudio de las instituciones en su contexto sociocultural’) to Pilar Ramos’s lecture, in which I developed—in connection to specific Valencian case-studies—some of the methodological issues on which I am working as part of the URBANMUSICS project.

Session on the musical life in Castelló. From left to right: Arantxa Martínez, Antoni F. Ripollés and Ramon Canut

Session on the musical life in Castelló. From left to right: Arantxa Martínez, Antoni F. Ripollés and Ramon Canut

Paper sessions included several presentations of musicological research on the Valencia area and they covered a broad range of approaches and subjects—such as popular music, wind bands, sacred music, twentieth-century experimental music, music theory, music education, musical sources, music theatre and musicological methodologies. Moreover, ways of collaboration between musicologists and performers were analysed in an original format: a dialogue between Fabio Biondi, musical director of the Palau de les Arts, and Miguel Ángel Marín, director of the Fundación Juan March in Madrid. This session was celebrated at the Palau de les Arts, followed by a concert in which we enjoyed several arias from the opera Dorinda (Valencia, c.1735). Thanks to the organisers and the scientific committee for designing this stimulating programme and generating such a collaborative atmosphere.  [Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita]


Paolo Fabbri’s lecture. From left to right: María Cáceres, Stefano Cingolani and Paolo Fabbri


Dialogue between Miguel Ángel Marín and Fabio Biondi at the Palau de les Arts


Presentation of the project ‘La música del “Grup del Joves”’

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International Colloquium Maneras de vivir lo femenino en la España moderna, 5-7 October 2016


An international colloquium on women’s lives in modern Spain was held in Barcelona between 5 and 7 October, both at the Facultat de Geografia i Història of the Universitat de Barcelona and the Museu del Disseny. It was organised by the University of Barcelona and the Associació per a l’Estudi del Moble (Association for the Study of Furniture) as part of the R+D Project ‘Maneras de vivir en la España moderna: Condiciones materiales y formas culturales de lo cotidiano’ (‘Ways of living in modern Spain: Material conditions and cultural forms in the daily life’). This event brought together historians from several Spanish and Italian universities who approached the subject from different perspectives and disciplines.

Gender, similarly to social status and economy, was an essential factor in the ways of life in the modern period and in the definition of spaces. It was particularly interesting that the works presented at this Colloquium addressed women in general and not only noblewomen, aristocrats and high-class women. Female confraternities, women in rural environments, convents, and women in domestic settings such as the kitchen and the bedroom were under consideration. The attention paid to several vestiges of the material culture of the period, as to jewellery, ceramics, books and pieces of furniture, was remarkable. The Colloquium included a visit to the Museu del Disseny (Design Museum) in Barcelona.

This Colloquium made clear that it is necessary to nuance the traditional gendering of space through the traditional dichotomy between public and private. In the modern period, women’s activities were not totally confined to domestic settings, as women also acted in the public sphere, even though their activities are less obvious in historical records than those of men, and special methodologies and research perspectives are required to make women’s lives more visible. [Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita]


Session on female confraternities

Inaugural lecture

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Med-Ren Conference, University of Sheffield, 5-8 July 2016


This year’s Med-Ren conference took place at the Department of Music at the University of Sheffield and included over 120 papers, with two sessions specifically devoted to the Iberian world—’Sources’ and ‘Performance and Reception’. This was my seventh time at this conference and the session to which I contributed, chaired by Jennifer Thomas, was entitled ‘Women patrons in the sixteenth century’. It included the paper of Aimee E. Gonzalez (University of Florida) about ‘Saints, sons, and sovereignty: Mouton’s Gloriosa Virgo Margareta in the court of Anne of Brittany (1477-1514)’, the work of Vincenzo Borghetti (Universita degli Studi di Verona) about ‘Reading music, performing identity: Margaret of Austria and her Chansonnier BrusBR 228’, and my own paper on ‘Women and networks of musical patronage in the sixteenth-century Iberian world: Ana de Mendoza, princess of Eboli (1540-1592)’. It was very inspiring to put together different contributions to the study of early modern music from a gender perspective. The chair of the session had encouraged the three of us to share our papers before the conference, so that we were able to read the contributions in advance and to have a deeper and more critical understanding during the session itself.


Santiago Ruiz contribution to the session ‘Iberia-Performance and Reception’

A gender approach was also present in Linda Austern’s keynote lecture on ‘Anne Boleyn, musician: A romance across centuries and media’. Austern’s work on gender and music in Renaissance England is well known. On this occasion, she analysed biographical accounts, scholarly studies, and visual representations of Anne Boleyn’s musicality, from less than a year after her execution to the present. Her approach seemed quite original and innovative to me, and her presentation was extremely attractive and up-to-date from the visual point of view.

In addition to sessions devoted to particular geographical areas, genres, sources, historiography, theory and analysis, visual arts and musical iconography were indeed quite present in this year’s Med-Ren, with two sessions on ‘Music and art in Renaissance Italy’, including some papers resulting from the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Music in the Art of Renaissance Italy, c.1420-1540′, which involves most of the members of this year’s organising committee. Thanks to Tim Shephard and his team for such a motivating conference.

Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita
8 July 2016

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