Academic journal article Notes

St. Anne in Renaissance Music: Devotion and Politics

Academic journal article Notes

St. Anne in Renaissance Music: Devotion and Politics

Article excerpt

St. Anne in Renaissance Music: Devotion and Politics. By Michael Alan Anderson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. [xvii, 345 p. ISBN 9781107056244 (hardcover), $99; ISBN 9781139899604 (e-book), $79.] Music examples, illustrations, tables, appendices, endnotes, bibliography, index.

Music and Riddle Culture in the Renaissance. By Katelijne Schiltz, with a catalog of enigmatic canonic inscriptions by Bonnie J. Blackburn. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. [xxx, 513 p. ISBN 781107082298 (hardcover), $135; ISBN 9781316309933 (e-book), $108.] Music examples, illustrations, tables, appendices, footnotes, bibliography, indexes (compositions, general).

Popular devotion of the Middle Ages and Renaissance has received sustained scholarly attention, but despite some noteworthy studies, the musical aspect of the subject has lagged behind. The complex multidisciplinary research required to integrate music with liturgy, iconography, political and social history, and regional practices requires special patience, intuition, and skills. Only rarely is the function and impetus for a musical composition noted or implied, and texts set to music, though often drawn from liturgy or lay devotional books, were often altered to suit their musical purposes. Understanding the reasons and results of textual choices often requires sophisticated sleuthing. Michael Anderson notes, "Art for art's sake was completely foreign to both the artist or composer and his noble patron. Art instead had a job to per form, one that shifted according to circumstances. This principle would be easily grasped if the texts of the music for St. Anne ... simply announced their functional intent. But such music does not exist" (p. 3). Music for St. Anne spans the sacred, Latin-texted genres of the period: polyphonic motets, Mass Ordinaries, and liturgical plainchant. This book includes close readings of selected musical passages for all of these genres.

A study focused on a topic rather than on a particular time, place, composer, patron, or musical genre or style brings together all of those entities, allowing a wide berth for discovery. The topical thread gathers related artifacts, beliefs, and stories not only across a generously proportioned Renaissance, but also from the predecessors of Renaissance ideas and customs. Anderson asks, "How did Mary's mother, a woman not mentioned in the New Testament, rise to this lofty status, on a par with royalty and well suited to aid in maternity?" (p. 1). Musical documentation of Anne's political force forges a trail to unexpected destinations and identifies her intimate ties to noble and royal families. Chapter 1 identifies Anne's attributes that were important to her devotees and shows their relevance to ruling families: the corporeality of Christ, motherhood, marriage, widowhood, noble lineage, female education, wealth, and well-being represented their most fervent beliefs, hopes, and ambitions. Anderson follows these tenets into the personal lives of the powerful patrons who called upon Anne.

Plainchant frames the investigation, beginning with a versified plainchant Office for St. Anne preserved in the early-fifteenth-century Turin Codex used at the Cypriot court of King Janus. The search for the genealogy of the Turin Office draws together threads from earlier studies, linking the Cypriot practices to English and French traditions with a common ancestor--a 1424 Benedictine breviary now at Oxford (Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson C. 489). The texts of the Bodleian breviary, in turn, point to a tradition that predates the official sanctioning of Anne's feast day in 1378. New musicological subjects radiate from the chapter's quest to identify a tradition of St. Anne Office chants: a little-known web of related sources, some far-flung; the practice of ordering Office chants by mode; the phenomenon of versified Offices; and the unique musical repertory of Turin.

Anderson digs deeper: compared with the Office for St. …

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