History and Evidence

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


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.


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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  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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© Elizabeth Randell Upton 2013

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  • Elizabeth Randell Upton

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