Appel à communication : «  Music, Performance, Architecture. Sacred Spaces as Sound Spaces », Rome, German Historical Institute, date limite le 15 mars 2019

International and Interdisciplinary Conference

German Historical Institute in Rome / Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City

11–13 December 2019

The compositional developments between the late Middle Ages and the early modern period were accompanied by a multifaceted change of requirements to musical performance practice, which correlated with the rite and mass piety and enduringly affected the experience of liturgy and music. The most distinctive impact of this progress is epitomised by the installation of singer balconies and organ galleries on which top-class music ensembles and organists often performed and which served as stages for musical excellence. The permanent display of music advanced to become a core segment of sacred architecture while the potential of these spaces to promote identification becomes evident in numerous graffiti, as the singer pulpit in the Vatican Cappella Sistina exemplifies. Luca della Robbia’s and Donatello’s cantorie for the Florentine cathedral or Jacopo Sansovino’s pergoli in the Venetian St Mark’s Basilica are prominent examples of the high artistic value, which already was ascribed to singer pulpits in the Renaissance period. Beginning in 15th century Italy, the polychoral musical performance practice became a European phenomenon in the 17th and 18th centuries and required the modification of venerable churches and the integration of music spaces in new sacred buildings. Moreover, the polychoral experimentation and opulent musical compositions for festive occasions made ephemeral music stages necessary in order to take full advantage of the acoustics and musical potential of the church interior. However, since Alexander VII’s Editto sopra le musiche (1665), popes increasingly opposed the architectural exposure of musicians who distracted the faithful from the liturgy with their visible and audible performance. 

The planned conference focuses on the complex interrelation of music and sacred space which has so far only been investigated separately in a variety of disciplines and will concentrate on the musician’s pulpits of the early modern period. In what sense did the awarding authorities consider musical issues in designing and constructing new church buildings? Which role did architecture theorists assign to acoustics and musical performance practice? How did composers and performers react to the architectural and acoustic situation in sacred spaces? In short: How was the relationship between church music and church architecture?

The conference will be organised in cooperation between the German Historical Institute in Rome and the research project CANTORIA as part of a Gutenberg Research College Fellowship held by Klaus Pietschmann. It will serve as a prelude to subsequent workshops and conferences which will explore the interdependencies between architecture, acoustics, musical performance practice in the interdisciplinary discourse between musicology, art and architecture history. 

Conception and Organisation: Klaus Pietschmann and Tobias Weissmann (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) / German Historical Institute in Rome, Department of Music History 

Expert committee: Sabine Ehrmann-Herfort, Markus Engelhardt, Teresa Gialdroni, Klaus Pietschmann and Tobias Weissmann

Papers of 30 minutes each will be accepted in German, Italian and English. Interested speakers are invited to submit an abstract of their proposed paper (max. 500 words) and a short CV by 15 March 2019 to: klaus.pietschmann@uni-mainz.de / tobias.weissmann@uni-mainz.de

The conference will be held in German, Italian and English. The speakers will be selected by an expert committee. Contributions by junior researchers will receive special attention. Travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed subject to successful financing.

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