Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Music

Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Music

Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Music

Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Music


Although Dr. Bukofzer's main field of study was medieval and Renaissance music, he made important contributions in other areas too, such as a monograph on Javanese music, and an edition of the complete works of John Dunstable. His Music in the Baroque Era (Norton, 1947) is the standard work on that period.The studies in the present volume mainly deal with fifteenth-century music, exploring many compositions whose historical and musical importance have not hitherto been fully understood. Some of the papers treat early English music, others discuss various aspects of Renaissance music, the emergence of choral polyphony, dance music, and the problem of the cyclic Mass. Dr. Bukofzer's scholarly research has enlarged both our understanding of an pleasure in this music, and reveals it as an expression of the very same creative spirit that produced the great cathedrals, paintings, and sculptures of the period. Gustave Reese has called these studies "a major contribution by one of the greatest authorities on medieval and Renaissance music."


"What maketh yow to han al this labour?"
"Ful many a cause ..."

(The Freres Tale)

ALTHOUGH the studies contained in this volume were written —with one exception—between 1947 and 1949, they embody the results of research that has been carried out intermittently over a period of more than a decade. The course of this specialized research was interrupted by an altogether different task, that of writing Music in the Baroque Era, and in resuming the study of medieval and Renaissance music I cannot help feeling a little like the prodigal son coming home. The former book called essentially for a broad interpretation of an entire period and of material already known, and permitted the discussion of particular or new aspects only in so far as they illustrated larger points of view. These inevitable restrictions created as the work progressed a wholesome reaction and prompted the desire to do the very opposite, to reverse the accent by presenting new source material which in turn may have a bearing on the larger aspects of the period.

These studies are intended not only as contributions to the evergrowing research material of musicology, but also as object lessons of a point of method, namely that specialized topics can be fruitfully discussed only against the background of a broad perspective. In spite of the vast difference in subject matter between my previous book and the present one, my approach has not changed, for it is only a question of procedure, but not of principle, whether the larger aspects of a stylistic period are shown through and in the particular ones or vice versa, so long as their basic interrelation is not lost sight of. Likewise . . .

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