Session 50 (Free Papers): Sacred repertories in Italy and Portugal

Friday, 9 July 2021, 11.00-12.30, Room A224 | Chair: Noel O’Regan (University of Edinburgh)

Revisiting polyphonic office repertories in manuscripts from Verona and Florence | Laurie Stras (University of Huddersfield)

Although polyphonic psalms, hymns, and magnificats are a familiar feature of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century choral repertories, polyphonic proper antiphons – particularly those paired with psalms rather than magnificats – are much rarer. Their appearance in only a few manuscripts suggest a local practice, perhaps limited to a single institution or city. A pair of manuscripts from Verona – Ver758 and 759 – and a single manuscript from Florence – Brussels 27766 – contain polyphonic office propers for Saints Lucy and Clare, respectively, including vespers antiphons and hymns, and – in the case of the Clare office – the antiphons for Lauds as well. Both manuscripts also include polyphonic psalms and magnificats, separate from the office propers.

The Verona office has been linked in previous scholarship with the Benedictine convent of Santa Lucia; however, the provenance of the Florentine manuscript can be securely placed in a Clarissan convent on the outskirts of the city. While all the manuscripts have been the subject of scrutiny, they have not been considered together. What can scholarship on Ver758 and 759 tell us about Brussels 27766, and vice versa? Are there more specific feasts indicated by the modes of the polyphonic psalms? How does the voci pari disposition of the settings have an impact on the imitative polyphony? What can be learned by placing these works in liturgical context with the recitation of psalms? While further archival work on the potential/proven historical contexts for these repertories must be kept on hold, a closer focus on the manuscripts’ contents may still be able to provide information about the musical priorities of their communities.

Three madrigals and a funeral. Music in the vernacular in Catholic exequies (1570-1640) | Antonio Chemotti (Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences)

It is generally assumed that during liturgical celebrations in post-Tridentine Italy only vocal music in Latin was performed. This assumption seems to apply also to the liturgy for the dead, whose musical apparatus generally consisted of Latin motets and polyphonic renditions of the liturgical formularies pro mortuis, established in books such as the Breviarium Romanum of 1568 and the Missale Romanum of 1570. In this paper focusing on liturgical celebrations held in Florence between the 1570s and the 1640s, I discuss sources that fall outside this widely-accepted narrative to reveal the performance of vocal music in the vernacular—such as madrigals and canzoni—during exequies and commemorations of the dead. By analysing the rhetorical strategies employed in the texts set to music as well as the descriptions of musical performances in funeral books, I highlight the role of this lesser-known exequial music in defining the emotional climate of funeral services. This paper also attends to striking similarities with Protestant funeral music from German-speaking lands. The theological premises of death rituals in Protestant and Catholic contexts indeed differ greatly, yet a truly comparative approach also elucidates common trends in the scope and emotional content of funeral music.

The post-Tridentine Mass in Portugal reconsidered | Owen Rees (University of Oxford)

Views of the post-Tridentine polyphonic Mass in Portugal have been largely shaped by the works of the ‘great triumvirate’: Manuel Cardoso, Duarte Lobo, and Filipe de Magalhães. The models employed in their parody Masses are now largely identified, thanks in part to discoveries made by myself and others in recent years. However, the resulting picture of the Portuguese Mass repertory – and notably Lobo’s contribution – is incomplete if we exclude those Masses listed in the catalogue of D. João IV’s renowned music library which are apparently now lost. While we are forced to rely on the titles and scoring details given for these Masses in the catalogue, such information can be mined to broaden and recalibrate our understanding of Mass composition in Portugal, thus allowing a fuller contextualisation of this repertory in international terms. An important aspect, brought to the fore in this paper, concerns Lobo’s lost Masses, which reveal his use of a more eclectic range of source material – secular as well as sacred, with Castilian and Italian texts – than do his surviving printed Masses. Consideration of such works and investigation of their likely models allows reframing of Lobo’s Mass output with regard to Iberian and international practices in the use of secular sources for Mass Ordinary settings. As such, it also complements recent analyses of the significance of such practices in other areas of Catholic Europe.