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History and Evidence

  • Elizabeth Randell Upton
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Evidence for the performance of music in the Middle Ages comes to us only indirectly. Public notices, concert reviews, and diary entries: all the familiar trappings of later public musical culture would not be invented for centuries. Only a very few mentions of music-making have been found in historical chronicles—such as the two famous examples from Du Fay’s life, the 1436 dedication of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, and the 1454 Feast of the Oath of the Pheasant held by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy in Lille1—but such rare reports are usually too vague to be useful—“the singers sounded like angels!”—and the occasions themselves are too extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime events for generalization to be safe.

Keywords

External Evidence Musical Work Wedding Ceremony Musical Style Notational Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    There is no doubt that Du Fay’s motet Nuper Rosarum Flores was written to celebrate the rededication of the cathedral by Pope Eugenius IV, but it is still unclear when it would have been performed, or under what circumstances. See chapter 5 for specific discussion of this motet and its performance. It has been proposed that Du Fay’s motet Lamentatio sanctae matris ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae was performed at the Feast of the Oath of the Pheasant, first brought to modern attention by Johan Huizinga in The Autumn of the Middle Ages (1919). F. Alberto Gallo describes the feast but suggests that Du Fay’s motet was written a year later, in 1455. See Music of the Middle Ages II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 104.Google Scholar
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    I follow Graeme Boone in reading vascule in this verse as vassal. See Graeme M. Boone, Patterns in Play: A Model for Text Setting in the Early French Songs of Guillaume Du Fay (Lincoln: Nebraska University Press, 1999), 284. Boone’s fn. 73 reads “In verse 7 [of the second stanza], I have emended the nonsensical ‘vascule’ (from the Latin ‘vasculum,’ ‘little vase’) to ‘vassale’.”Google Scholar
  30. 51.
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  33. 52.
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  35. 55.
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    See in particular Christopher Page, “The Performance of Songs in Late Medieval France,” 441–450; and Nora Beck, Singing in the Garden: Music and Culture in the Tuscan Trecento, (Innsbruck: Studien Vlg.; Lucca: LIM Ed., 1998). For a later period, Elizabeth Morgan’s dissertation, “The Virtuous Virtuosa: Women at the Pianoforte in England, 1780–1820,” UCLA, 2009, demonstrates how aesthetic discussion of musical works can be deepened by understanding the social conventions of entertainment.Google Scholar
  40. 69.
    The working hypothesis is that Du Fay met the Malatesta at the Council of Constance (1414–1418), while in the entourage of the Bishop of Cambrai. See Fallows, Dufay, and Alejandro Planchart, “The Early Career of Guillaume Du Fay,” Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 46 (1993), 341–368. Alejandro Planchart now suspects that Du Fay’s contact among the Malatesta was more likely Cleofe’s brother Pandolfo Malatesta, later archbishop in Patras (private communication).Google Scholar

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© Elizabeth Randell Upton 2013

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  • Elizabeth Randell Upton

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