Preces speciales: Prototype of Tridentine Musical Reform

by Patrick Bergin Jr., Volume 2 (2009)

Keywords: Jacobus de Kerle, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Preces speciales, Missa Papae Marcelli, Council of Trent

Abstract: The dissertation Jacobus de Kerle, Leben und Werke, by Otto Ursprung was published in Munich in 1913. In it, Ursprung reintroduced Jacobus de Kerle (1531/1532–1591), a nearly forgotten Franco-Flemish composer of the post-Josquin generation to the musical world. Kerle's Preces speciales, a set of polyphonic devotional responsoria, are the only pieces known to have been composed for the Council of Trent (1545–1563). Ursprung challenged the widely circulated legend that Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli was the piece that kept sacred polyphony from being banned by the musical reforms of the Council of Trent. Many later sources corroborate Ursprung's hypothesis that Kerle, not Palestrina, was the "saviour of church music."

Using evidence from Palestrina's Missarum Liber Primus and Missarum Liber Secundus and Kerle's Preces, Ursprung's hypothesis is supported. The Preces speciales of 1562 allowed Kerle, not Palestrina, to influence the debates on musical reform at the Council of Trent, perpetuating sacred polyphony. A brief review of the Tridentine musical reforms is given, before examining Kerle's work and its effect at the Council. Finally Palestrina's masses, particularly the Missae Papae Marcelli, Ecce sacerdos magnus, and de Beata Virgine (Missarum Liber Secundus), and problems they present to the scholar are examined.

The Government of Cantabile: Notes on Eighteenth-Century Musical Meaning

by Stephanie Frakes, Volume 1, Number 2 (Autumn 2008)

Keywords: cantabile, affektenlehre, ornamentation, tempo, style, government, meaning

Abstract: The politics of stylistic musical government, involving norms, precedents, prevailing sentiments, and tastes, has been a varied and intricate phenomenon throughout history. During the early nineteenth century, J.J. Wagner wrote that absence of the sustained, regal style of cantabile would result in "eine gänzliche musikalische Anarchie [a complete musical anarchy]." This language is evocative of the contemporary battle between the contrasting controlled and abandoned musical styles such as the cantabile and the allegro. Theorists and performers including Mattheson, Quantz and Frescobaldi are cited for their views about the established and powerful affects, dance types, expressive qualities in music—and cantabile. Various theoretical frameworks are also used to shed light on this process of using cantabile as a means of enforcing and maintaining musical government during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.