Skip to main content

European politics and the distribution of music in the early fifteenth century

  • Reinhard Strohm (a1)

Early-fifteenth-century music seems to be different from that of previous ages not only in that it contains new stylistic elements, but also in the way in which its novelty was brought about. Perotinus composed in a more advanced style than Leoninus, Philippe de Vitry superseded Petrus de Cruce: in such cases a renewal takes place within a tradition, or even a ‘school’, which may be unrelated to the state of music-making in other areas. The novelties introduced in the music of certain centres (which were emphasised by the musicians who belonged to these centres), could then spread to other areas and affect more traditionally minded musicians elsewhere. A distinction between ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, between ‘creation’ and ‘distribution’ can be suggested, although it may have to be modified by assuming polycentrism, that is, several centres, and several networks of distribution.

Hide All

1 For a recent contribution with references to earlier literature, see Scott A. B., ‘The Beginnings of Fauxbourdon: A New Interpretation’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 24 (1971), pp. 345–63.

2 A survey of some distribution problems may be found in the report on the round table discussion ‘Die Rolle Englands, Spaniens, Deutschlands und Polens in der Musik des 14. Jahrhunderts’, Bericht über den neunten intenationalen Kongress Salzburg 1964, ed. Giegling F., 2 vols. (Kassel and Basle, 19641966), ii, pp. 188200.

3 As is the case in Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria, MS 2216; see Gallo F. A., ed., Il codice musicale 2216 della Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna, 2 vols. (Bologna, 19681970).

4 Bent M. and Bent I., ‘Dufay, Dunstable, Plummer – a New Source’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 22 (1969), pp. 405–14.

5 See note 4, and John Dunstable: Complete Works, ed. Bukofzer M. F., Musica Britannica 8, rev. 2nd edn by M. Bent, I. Bent and B. Trowell (London, 1970).

6 Trent, Castello del Buon Consiglio, Biblioteca della Soprintendenza, MS 90; Trent, Archivio Capitolare, MS 93.

7 The heading appears on Quel fronte signorille in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canonici misc. 213. The accuracy of the inscription is very doubtful, see Planchart A. E., ‘Guillaume Dufay's Masses: a View of the Manuscript Traditions’, Papers Read at the Dufay Quincentenary Conference, ed. Atlas A. W. (New York, 1976), p. 54, n. 44 (with reference to a paper by M. Bent).

8 Reaney G., ‘The Manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canonici Misc. 213’, Musica Disciplina, 9 (1955), pp. 86ff; Besseler H., ‘Dufay in Rom’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 15 (1958), pp. 119; Schoop H., Entstehung und Verwendung der Handschrift Oxford Bodleian Library Canonici Misc. 213 (Berne and Stuttgart, 1971).

9 The cry ‘Nach Rom!’, which sent Tannhäuser on his way, stands for medieval pilgrimages in general which certainly helped to distribute music. One musical pilgrim, who started his journey not in Thuringia, but in Zealand, seems to have been a certain Hugo Boy monachus, who had to do penance for unruly behaviour. One wonders whether his offence was in any way connected with his setting of the text ‘Genade Venus, vrouwe tzart’, see Wagenaar-Nolthenius H., ‘De leidse fragmenten: Nederlandse polyfonie uit het einde der 14e eeuw’, Renaissance-muziek 1400–1600: Donum natalicium René Bernard Lenaerts, ed. Robijns J., (Louvain, 1969), pp. 303–15.

10 Reaney G., ‘The Manuscript Chantilly, Musée Condé 1047’, Musica Disciplina, 8 (1954), pp. 59113; Hoppin R. H. and Clercx S., ‘Notes biographiques sur quelques musiciens français du xive siècle’, Les colloques de Wégimont II – 1955: L'ars nova: Recueil des études sur la musique du XIVe siècle (Paris, 1959), pp. 6392; Günther U., ‘Zur Biographie einiger Komponisten der Ars Subtilior’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 21 (1964), pp. 172–99. On the ‘candidates’ for the names quoted in the motet Sub Arturo by J. Alanus, and for J. Alanus himself, see Trowell B., ‘A 14th-Century Ceremonial Motet and its Composer’, Acta Musicologica, 29 (1957), pp. 6575; Bent M., ‘The Transmission of English Music 1300–1500: Some Aspects of Repertory and Presentation’, Studien zur Tradition in der Musik: Kurt von Fischer zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Eggebrecht H. H. and Lütolf M. (Munich, 1973), pp. 70ff.

11 Fallows D., ‘Robert Morton's Songs: A Study of Styles in the Mid-Fifteenth Century’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1978), pp. 300ff. I am grateful to Dr Fallows for giving me access to his work.

12 van Doorslaer G., ‘La chapelle musicale de Philippe le Beau’, Revue Belge d'Archéologie et d'Histoire de l'Art, 4 (1934), p. 25.

13 de Laborde L. E., Les ducs de Bourgogne, 3 vols. (Paris, 18491852). Of the many subsequent books on the court of Burgundy, the only ones to focus on music on the basis of documents are Marix J., Histoire de la musique et des musiciens de la cour de Bourgogne sous le règne de Philippe le Bon (1420–1467) (Strasbourg, 1939); Wright C., Music at the Court of Burgundy 1364–1419: A Documentary History, Musicological Studies 28 (New York, 1979).

14 Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14274.

15 Günther U., ‘Eine Ballade auf Mathieu de Foix’, Musica Disciplina, 19 (1965), pp. 6981; Anglès H., Historia de la música medieval en Navarra (Pamplona, 1970); H. Anglès: Scripta musicologica, ed. López-Calo J., 3 vols. (Barcelona, 1975), passim.

16 A reference is made to him in Ward T. R., ‘The Structure of the Manuscript Trent 92/i’, Musica Disciplina, 29 (1975), pp. 127–47. Frederick iii (born 1415, Frederick v, Archduke of Austria) was the son of Ernst der Eiserne of Austria and Cymbarka of Mazovia, sister of Alexander; Alexander was also legate to Germany, Hungary and Poland of the antipope Felix v.

17 Ostravsky M., Beiträge zur Kirchengeschichte im Patriarchate Aquileja (Klagenfurt, 1965), p. 15.

18 Pietzsch G., Zur Pflege der Musik an den deutschen Universitäten bis zur Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts (Hildesheim, 1971), p. 55.

19 Santifaller L., Urkunden und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Trientner Domkapitels 1147–1500, Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 6 (Vienna, 1948).

20 For a model study of whether prebends were paid in absentia or not, see Wright C., ‘Dufay at Cambrai: Discoveries and Revisions’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 28 (1975), pp. 163229.

21 Perz M., ‘Die Einflüsse der ausgehenden italienischen Ars Nova in Polen’, L'ars nova italiana del Trecento: secondo convegno internazionale, ed. Gallo F. A. (Certaldo, 1971), pp. 465–83.

22 Johannes de Olomons, Palma choralis, ed. Seay A. (Colorado Springs, 1977); the treatise is the one referred to by John Hothby in his Dialogus de arte musica (John Hothby: Tres tractatuli contra Bartholomeum Ramum, ed. Seay A., Corpus Scriptorum de Musica 10 (n.p., 1964)).

23 Dickinson J. G., The Congress of Arras (Oxford, 1956); Cobin M., ‘The Compilation of the Aosta Manuscript: A Working Hypothesis’, Papers Read at the Dufay Quincentenary Conference, ed. Atlas A. W. (New York, 1976), p. 84.

24 For discussions of a possible visit by Leonel Power to Ferrara, see Scott A. B., ‘English Music in Modena, Biblioteca Estense, α.x.1,11 and other Italian Manuscripts’, Musica Disciplina, 26 (1972), p. 155ff; Bowers R., ‘Some Observations on the Life and Career of Lionel Power’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 102 (19751976), p. 124, n. 97.

25 Anglès, Historia de la música; Wright C., ‘Tapissier and Cordier: New Documents and Conjectures’, Musical Quarterly, 59 (1973), pp. 177–89.

26 It is increasingly difficult to define the social status of travelling musicians as the fifteenth century proceeds. Apart from ‘diplomatic’ missions, or combined with them, the minstrels often attended ‘schools’ such as the one in Bruges visited by Aragonese minstrels, see Greene G., ‘The Schools of Minstrelsy and the Choir-School Tradition’, Studies in Music, 2 (1977), pp. 3140; Reaney G., ‘A Postscript to the Manuscript Chantilly, Musée Condé 1047’, Musica Disciplina, 10 (1956), pp. 57f. The Bruges ‘school’ may have been supervised by the Carmelite friars, see Gilliodts-van Severen L., Les ménestrels de Bruges, Essais d'Archéologie Brugeoise 2 (Bruges, 1912), p. 31.

27 The Strahov manuscript is Prague, Památník Národního Písemnictví, MS d.g.iv.47.

28 Prague, Státní Knihovna CSSR, Universitní Knihovna, MS xi.e.9; Faenza, Biblioteca Comunale, MS 117; Padua, Biblioteca Universitaria, MSS 658, 684, 1106, 1115, etc., and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canonici Pal. lat. 229.

29 Angerer J., Die liturgisch-musikalische Erneuerung der Melker Reform (Vienna, 1974).

30 Angerer, op. cit., pp. 89f. This is of course only a minor detail within the wider context of liturgical reform.

31 Angerer, op. cit., pp. 113ff; besides the Faenza codex (see note 28), which is an impressive document for organ music in a Carmelite monastery, see also Göllner T., ‘Notationsfragmente aus einer Organistenwerkstatt des 15. Jahrhunderts’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 24 (1967), pp. 170–7 (on a manuscript of Augustinian provenance).

32 As, for example, were the Chartreuse de Champmol, near Dijon, for the Dukes of Burgundy (see Wright , Music at the Court of Burgundy, pp. 6f); the Carmelite church in Straubing for the Dukes of Bavaria-Straubing; and the Benedictine monastery of Santa Giustina in Padua for the Carrara dynasty (see, for the pre- and post-reform history of the house, contributions by Gallo F. A. and Cattin G. in Annales Musicologiques, 7 (Monaco, 1978) (offprints)).

33 Smijers A., ‘De Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap te 's-Hertogenbosch’, Tijdschrift van der Vereeniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 11 (1925), 12 (19261928), 13 (19291932), 14 (19321934), also published separately (Amsterdam, 1932). For a random example of a manuscript with polyphonic music originating in a religious confraternity, see Rajeczky B., ‘Ein neuer Fund zur mehrstimmigen Praxis Ungarns im 15. Jahrhundert’, Studia Musicologia, 14 (1972), pp. 147–68.

34 For an interesting survey of the importance of various social groups for a particular case of musical distribution, see Scott ‘English Music in Modena, Biblioteca Estense, α.x.1,11’, pp. 145ff.

35 Cobin, ‘The Compilation of the Aosta Manuscript’.

36 For example in Bruges, see Gilliodts-van Severen, Les ménestrels. The Florentine merchants of the Arte di Calimala and Arte della Lana must have used their trade connections in order to supply Florence Cathedral with musicians, see D'Accone F., ‘Music and Musicians at Santa Maria del Fiore in the early Quattrocento’, Scritti in onore di Luigi Ronga (Milan, 1973), pp. 99126.

37 One of many instances is quoted in Burch C. E. C., Minstrels and Players in Southampton 1428–1635 (Southampton, 1969), p. 9.

38 For deposits in Strasbourg, Nuremberg, Breslau and Cracow, see von Fischer K. and Lütolf M., eds., Handschriften mit mehrstimmiger Musik des 14., 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts, Répertoire International des Sources Musicales b/iv/3–4, 2 vols. (Munich and Duisburg, 1972). For others see Dèzes K., ‘Der Mensuralkodex des Benediktinerklosters St. Emmeram’, Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 10 (19271928), pp. 65105; Bridgman N., ‘Un manuscrit milanais (Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense Cod. ad.xiv.49)’, Rivista Italiana di Musicologia, 1 (1966), pp. 237–41; Cobin, ‘The Compilation of the Aosta Manuscript’; Stenzl J., ‘Un fragment de Dufay au Grand-St. Bernard’, Revue Musicale de la Suisse Romande, 24 (1971), pp. 57; Ward, ‘The Structure of the Manuscript Trent 92/i’; Spilstead G., ‘Toward the Genesis of the Trent Codices: New Directions and New Findings’, Studies in Music, 1 (1976), pp. 5570; R. Strohm, ‘Zur Datierung des Codex St. Emmeram: Ein Zwischenbericht’ (in preparation).

39 Grunzweig A., Correspondance de la filiale de Bruges des Medici (Brussels, 1931); Grunzweig A., ‘Notes sur la musique des Pays-Bas au xve siècle’, Bulletin de l'Institut Historique Beige de Rome, 18 (1937), pp. 7388; Archivio di Stato di Firenze: Archivio Mediceo avanti il principato, Inventario, i (Rome, 1951).

40 Reaney, ‘The Manuscript Chantilly, Musée Condé 1047’; see also the congress report cited in note 2 above.

41 Tegen M., ‘Baselkonciliet och kyrkomusiken omkr. 1440’, Svensk Tidskrift for Musikforskning, 39 (1957), pp. 126–31; Mixter K. E., ‘Johannes Brassart: A Biographical and Bibliographical Study, I: The Biography’, Musica Disciplina, 18 (1964), pp. 3762; Schuler M., ‘Die Musik in Konstanz während des Konzils 1414 bis 1418’, Acta Musicologica, 38 (1966), pp. 150–68; Schuler M., ‘Zur Geschichte der Kapelle Papst Martins v.’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 25 (1968), pp. 3045; Schuler M., ‘Zur Geschichte der Kapelle Papst Eugens iv.’, Acta Musicologica, 40 (1968), pp. 220–7.

42 Hamm C., ‘Manuscript Structure in the Dufay Era’, Acta Musicologica, 40 (1968), pp. 220–7.

43 Hoppin R. H., ‘The Cypriot-French Repertory of the Manuscript Torino, Biblioteca Nazionale j.ii.9’, Musica Disciplina, 11 (1957), pp. 79125.

44 Cohen J., The Six Anonymous L'homme armé-Masses in Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, Ms vi e 40, Musicological Studies and Documents 21 (n.p., 1968).

45 For a general introduction to this subject, see Harthan J., Books of Hours (London, 1977).

46 Paoli M., ‘Di un messale romano con miniature francesi del primo Quattrocento’, La Bibliofilia, 80/2 (1978), pp. 105–22.

47 Hamm C. and Scott A. B., ‘A Study and Inventory of the Manuscript Modena, Biblioteca Estense, α.x.1,11 (ModB)’, Musica Disciplina, 26 (1972), pp. 101–43; Scott, ‘English Music in Modena, Biblioteca Estense, α.x.1,11’, pp. 145–60.

48 Modena, Biblioteca Estense e Universitaria, MS α.x.1.11.

49 Trent, Castello del Buon Consiglio, Biblioteca della soprintendenza, MS 92 [Trent 92]. See Ward, ‘The Structure of the Manuscript Trent 92/i’.

50 Trent, Castello del Buon Consiglio, Biblioteca della Soprintendenza, MS 87. See Cobin, ‘The Compilation of the Aosta Manuscript’.

51 Chew G., ‘The Early Cyclic Mass as an Expression of Royal and Papal Supremacy’, Music and Letters, 53 (1972), pp. 254–69; H. Besseler, ‘Dufay in Rom’, pp. 6ff.

52 Unless, of course, one regards parts of the Aosta manuscript as Italian.

53 Lucca, Archivio di Stato, MS 184. See Clercx S., ‘Johannes Ciconia et la chronologie des manuscrits italiens Mod. 568 et Lucca (Mn)’, Les colloques de Wégimont ii – 1955: L'ars nova: Recueil des etudes sur la musique du XIVe siècle (Paris, 1959), pp. 115ff.

54 Facsimile in Dèzes, ‘Der Mensuralkodex’, p. 100.

55 Nuremberg, Stadtbibliothek, MS lat. 9 (fragment). See Reaney G., ‘New Sources of Ars Nova Music’, Musica Disciplina, 19 (1965), pp. 5367.

56 On Louis de Male's musicians, see Wright , Music at the Court of Burgundy, pp. 1922.

57 London, British Library, Additional MS 57950.

58 Fallows, ‘Robert Morton's Songs’, pp. 309ff.

59 This could well apply to, for example, the parody movements by A. Zacara da Teramo and some of his contemporaries; the ballate Rosetta che non cangi mai colore and Un fior gentil appear symbolic or heraldic, and several other model pieces for parodies are unidentified or extremely cryptic. Ciconia's motet Regina gloriosa could be taken as topical–political. I suggest a connection between the text symbolism of the models and their use for Mass music. See also von Fischer K., ‘Kontrafakturen und Parodien italienischer Werke des Trecento und frühen Quattrocento’, Annales Musicologiques, 5 (1957), pp. 4360.

60 Johannes Ockeghem en zijn tijd, Oudheidkundige kring van het land van Dendermonde, Buitengewone uitgaven 24 (Dendermonde, 1970), p. 34.

61 Pietzsch , Zur Pflege der Musik, p. 97.

62 As were the statutes of the Ordre de la Toison d'Or, see Strohm R., ‘Die Missa super “Nos amis” von Johannes Tinctoris’, Die Musikforschung, 32 (1979), p. 38, n. 13. The chapter meetings of this order, founded by Philip the Good in 1430, were regularly celebrated with a festal Mass in polyphony. One of these works – which are apparently all lost or so far unidentified – a Missa de vello aureo, was composed by the preceptor of Arnulphus Gilardi, for the ‘Dux Belgarum’, see Hothby , Dialogus de arte musica, ed. Seay , p. 75.

63 Pirro A., La musique à Paris sous le règne de Charles 1380–1422 (2nd edn, Strasbourg, 1958); Pirro A., Histoire de la musique de la fin du XIVe siècle à la fin du XVIe (Paris, 1940), p. 82; Wright , Music at the Court of Burgundy, pp. 134ff.

64 Fallows, ‘Robert Morton's Songs’, pp. 300ff.

65 This chanson, Amis, vous n'estes pas, is in the Reina codex (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, nouv. acqu. fr. 6771) between two early Dufay chansons, see Strohm, ‘Die Missa super “Nos amis”’, p. 38.

66 Very close in literary style and musical setting to Giustiniani/Ciconia's O rosa bella is the anonymous ballata Mercè o morte, o dolce anima bella in Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria MS 2216. See Plamenac D., ‘Faventina’, Liber amicorum Charles van den Borren (Antwerp, 1964), pp. 145ff.

67 Fallows, ‘Robert Morton's Songs’, p. 306.

68 Strohm, ‘Die Missa super “Nos amis”’, p. 39. Here too, topical (?political) or symbolic Mass tenors seem to cause derivative settings.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Early Music History
  • ISSN: 0261-1279
  • EISSN: 1474-0559
  • URL: /core/journals/early-music-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 12 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 108 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.