Academic journal article Theological Studies

Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America

Article excerpt

Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America. Edited by Anna Harwell Celenza and Anthony R. DelDonna. Early Modern Catholicism and the Visual Arts. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph University, 2014. Pp xii + 229. $65.

The idea that the Jesuits are or were hostile toward the cultivation of music persists today, despite a generation of scholarship that has argued otherwise. Indeed, the fact that the Jesuits' relationship to music remains "a debatable and controversial theme" (39) makes this collection--Music as Cultural Mission--more provocative than may be immediately apparent.

The volume is unquestionably important, offering a treasure trove of new data demonstrating the Jesuits' serious involvement in music-making and music culture in early modern Italy and North America. Far from suppressing music, the essays show how, in their colleges, churches, confraternities, and missions, Jesuits sponsored a wide variety of music: oratorios, music dramas, high-profile chamber music, lavish sacred music, didactic song, and adaptations of native music (in their missionary pursuits). With flashy virtuosi such as Carlo Broschi "Farinelli" in the employ of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits emerge as important patrons and fashionable innovators (rather than as tepid participants) in the field of music. …

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