Session 44 (Themed Papers): Constructing musical authorship between the 13th and 16th centuries

Thursday, 8 July 2021, 17.00-19.00, Room A224 Chair: Margaret Bent (All Souls College, Oxford)

Session Abstract

Following decades of research in literary studies and musicology, it is a common idea that medieval literature and music functioned primarily through practices of oral tradition. Since a significant portion of the literature and music of this period is anonymous, scholars have gradually merged anonymity with orality and argued that the idea of authorship and composership were foreign to the Middle Ages. However, over the last decades, literary scholars have called this paradigm into question and begun to uncover the medieval author through analyses of texts, manuscripts, and printed sources. This session contributes to such a reassessment in musicology by presenting four case-studies addressing the building of musical authorship through time, by analyzing the presence of names or attributions in musical manuscripts. This approach scrutinizes the act of adding a name alongside music, apart from issues in music creation. In all four papers, the musician’s name becomes a common denominator through which the gradual shaping of the idea of musical authorship and its several components can be traced and identified, in a variety of sources, periods, and regions. This session embodies the approach and research of a larger project on medieval composership launched with the help of the Fulbright Foundation.

Guiraut Riquier: A name, an anthology, an art | Chantal Prouse (University of Ottawa)

Guiraut Riquier is remarkable, since not only does he seem self-aware that he is one of the last troubadours, but he also offers an anthology of his works. This includes his poetry and music along with detailed rubrics, and also his correspondence. The whole of Riquier’s work is strikingly comparable to the complete works of Guillaume de Machaut one century later. Together, these works show that through anthologizing himself, Riquier had clear ideas about his work, which is relevant in understanding the concepts of author and creator of music during the second half of the 13th century.

Musical authorship in chant repertoire: Guillaume Adam’s cycle O admiranda novitas (14th c.) | Kristin Hoefener (Julius-Maximilians- Universität, Würzburg)

Liturgical offices form an important part of a cult, created to establish the feast of a specific saint. Although most of the authors remain anonymous, this cycle is attributed in the source to Guillaume Adam, an archbishop from the papal court of Avignon. This paper analyses his versified office cycle in honour of the eleven thousand virgins, handed down in a source from St. Martial of Limoges (Paris BNF lat. 916) by asking the following questions: What are the links between the cult, the relics and the author? Which hagiographical texts were used? Are the melodies original? Did Guillaume create other offices?

Illustrious names: The Codex Squarcialupi in the context of a humanistic genre | Pascale Duhamel (University of Ottawa)

Musicological research on the Codex Squarcialupi delves mainly into its musical contents and concordances with several other musical sources. It has already been stressed, given the great cost of its production, that its significance and why it ended up in Antonio Squarcialupi’s collection is still somewhat a mystery. This paper will look at the Squarcialupi Codex from the point of view of the tradition of the “illustrious men”, which sprang from the rediscovery of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and Boccacio and Petrarch’s writings. The analysis will show that this multifaceted genre may shed light on the significance of this famous manuscript.

Juan Bermudo and the Morales letter: The authority of a name | Nicolas de Groot (University of Ottawa)

Juan Bermudo’s Declaración de instrumentos musicales (1555) distinguishes between two kinds of musicians: theorists and músicos prácticos. However, Bermudo also includes an effusive recommendation from “Cristóbal de Morales”. The letter, which may be a forgery, capitalizes on the name and persona of Morales, who, at the time of publication, was one of the most revered composers in Western Europe. This capitalization reverses the pro-theorist hierarchy Bermudo endorses. Indeed, the letter shows that compositional persona developed before the professions of “composer” and “musician” had separated into two distinct entities, thus permitting Bermudo to use “Morales” as a marketing technique.