Paper Previews: Wilbourne and Marks

Date(s) - 04/07/2016
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Rm. 3389 (Small Seminar Rm.), Graduate Center


Prof. Emily Wilbourne, Queens College and Graduate Center
“Ahi ghidy, Ahi Chavo: Sounding Turkish on the Italian Stage”

Turks were a well-worn plot device of the early modern Italian stage, though their presence registered more frequently as explanatory force than in directly represented characters. The capture and enslavement of good, Christian citizens provided an ideal justification for any long disappearance—at once outlandish, thrillingly exotic, and yet vaguely plausible. After all, it did sometimes happen: the capocomico Francesco Andreini reputedly spent eight years enslaved to the Turks before escaping and turning to the stage. Less frequently, Turks themselves were represented in the drama, and when they were, their characterization plays with concepts of belonging and cultural otherness.

In this paper I examine the nominally Turkish characters and the Moorish slaves in Giovan Battista Andreini’s 1622 commedia dell’arte text, La Sultana. In at least two separate instances, these foreign characters spoke in song, and while no incidental music survives, the stage directions provide explicit instructions for how the musical elements were to work. In addition, the dialogue given to the various “Turkish” characters differed audibly from that of the “Italian” characters with whom they shared the stage. The sounds and the music made by these figures draw lines between intelligible noise and pure sound, reflecting the cultural limits of full humanity and the aurality of racialized difference. Linking the sound of their music to the sounds of their speech illustrates the broad cultural parameters by which difference was represented and helps thicken our understanding of contemporary performance, representation, and reception.


Tom Marks, Graduate Center
“Feeling the Thirty Years’ War: A History of Emotions in Melchior Franck’s Paradisus Musicus (1636)”


The Thirty Years’ War ravaged German lands in the first half of the seventeenth century; as the war developed, daily life became clouded with anxiety, insecurity, and fear. The 1630s were particularly difficult years during which myriad cities endured military sieges, plague, and famine. Coburg composer Melchior Franck directly experienced these wartime tribulations, particularly evidenced in his personal letters and his final published musical work—parts one and two of Paradisus Musicus (1636). The paratexts of this work for two to four voices, basso continuo, and occasional string instruments frequently mention the emotional dispositions of Franck’s war-weary contemporaries. What do these statements signify? How are the societal values that governed the expression of emotions during the war reflected in and shaped by these musical settings of select verses from each chapter of Isaiah? What can this work tell us about the ways in which German Lutherans felt the war?

In this paper, I analyze and contextualize the texts and music of Paradisus Musicus using theories and methodologies from the history of emotions. With Barbara Rosenwein’s concept of “emotional communities” and Arlie Hochschild’s notion of “feeling rules,” I argue that Paradisus Musicus provides a carefully choreographed labor of emotions that attempted to reorient listeners’ emotional dispositions away from “inappropriate” spiritual sadness and melancholy toward “appropriate” heavenly comfort—an aspect made most apparent through contemporary notions of Anfechtung (spiritual suffering) and Trost (comfort). The emotional aspects present in Franck’s work, I argue, facilitate a way of hearing the composer’s musical rhetorical choices in a specific wartime context where the reality of emotional suffering on earth and the inevitable heavenly joy to follow death meet in contemporary lived experience. More broadly, this research contributes to new developments in Thirty Years’ War scholarship that explores notions of personal experience (Erfahrung) through first-hand accounts. It fosters interdisciplinary conversation between musicology and the history of emotions by exploring the fruitful ways in which these fields intersect; consequently, this paper moves considerations of emotional experience in seventeenth-century German music beyond traditional discussions of music rhetoric.



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