Conference Agenda

MR2-11: Music and Humanism
Thursday, 27/July/2023:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Inga Mai Groote
Location: Meeting room 2

Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Alfons-Goppel-Straße 11; approx. 35 people

ID: 326 / MR2-11: 1
Paired paper (60 minutes including Q&A)
In-person presentation
Keywords: Humanism, Central Germany, Lossius, Reusch, Motet

Music and Humanism in 16th century Central Germany

Michael Meyer1, Stefan Menzel2

1Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, Germany; 2Universität Heidelberg

Music and Humanism in 16th century Central Germany

The following two papers investigate forms of humanism in Central German music culture. In the 16th century, a dense infrastructure of grammar schools and universities provided a fertile environment for establishing ties between music and the humaniora. The first paper will explore humanist concepts on the level of local motet composition. The second paper will ask more generally how Central German musicians defined their relation to antiquity.

Imitatio and Self-representation: Observations on Johann Reusch’s motets (Michael Meyer)

It is known that Johann Reusch played an important role in 16th century Central Germany contributing a respectable number of motets. After Walther Dehnhard’s study on the German psalm motet of 1971, Reusch’s work has been brought back into the focus of research only recently, for example regarding his Epitaphia Rhaworum, a collection of memorial motets dating from 1550. Firstly, this contribution presents new findings regarding the transmission of Reusch’s motets. Secondly, it is discussed how Reusch’s Motets participated in the contemporary humanist culture beyond his tribute to the Rhaw family: Reusch’s well-known acquaintance with Philipp Melanchthon is reexamined and brought in to connection with his ‚rhetorical‘ style of composition and his imitatio of Josquin Desprez. It can be assumed that Reusch consciously seeked to profile himself as a ‘learned’
composer within the framework of humanist culture in mid 16th century Central Germany.

“Cantica sacra veteris ecclesiae” – new aspects of musical humanism in 16th century Central Germany (Stefan Menzel)

It is a common view that in 15th and 16th century music culture, the revival of antique ideas and concepts was mostly restricted to music theory. In contrast to a renewed interest in antique writings, a renaissance of music was hindered by the lack of surviving Greek or Roman musical repertoire. Although humanist ideas seem to pervade literature and visual arts of the 16th century, scholars have been very reluctant to apply those ideas to contemporary music. The sacred music culture of 16th century Central Germany might provide new insight on how contemporaries solved the problem of a musical renaissance without music. By examining publications like Lucas Lossius’ Psalmodia (1553) and Georg Fabricius’ Thesaurus antiquitatis religiosae (1564), I will argue that these authors put forth a different understanding of musical antiquity. In their eyes not the lost heathen music practices, but the music of the early Christian church was to be revived. Here, a new perspective on 16th century music comes into play, which now, through the tradition of Gregorian chant, could be linked to antiquity and indeed could be seen as a renaissance of early Christian music. In this paper I will explore the implications of this shift in perspective for the sacred music culture of Central Germany in particular and our understanding of musical humanism in general.

ID: 318 / MR2-11: 2
Individual paper of 20 minutes
In-person presentation
Keywords: Music Theory, Music and Medicine, Renaissance, Sixteenth Century

Filippo Capponi’s 'Facile est inventis addere' and Musical Empiricism?

Moritz Kelber

University of Munich, Germany

In 1556, the Florentine scholar Filippo Capponi published a study in Venice entitled Facile est inventis addere (It is easy to add to what has already been invented). The work is something between a medical treatise and a popular guide to a better life. The title itself is a direct reference to one of Galen’s famous teachings, according to which the temperate man knows how he must treat his body to remain healthy. However, Capponi by no means presents argumentation focussed exclusively on Galen; he formulates his own ideas. For example, he rejects ancient astrological models and expands on Galen’s doctrine of the temperaments. Throughout, he develops an almost empirical approach, in that he tries to build an argument based on “facts and experience”.

Capponi has received some attention in art history in recent years due to his acquaintance with Titian and other artists. Musicologists, on the other hand, have only cited his reports about musicians such as Adrian Willaert, on whose working methods Capponi provides remarkable details. Little to no attention has been paid to the extensive passages related to music in Facile est inventis addere. In these passages, the author is not only concerned with the healing effect of music on the body, but also offers exciting reflections on the physiological foundations of music-making—for example, on the connection between breath and voice. In this paper, I will examine Capponi’s chapters on music and place them in the context of music-theoretical and medical writing from the mid-sixteenth century. In particular, I will discuss empiricism as a method for thinking about music in the sixteenth century.