The Catholic University of America

The Patronage of Sacred Music in Seventeenth-Century Vienna

Dr. Andrew H. Weaver

 

The seventeenth century was a critical time for the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors in Vienna, as the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) tested the limits of their absolute authority. The nature of this authority changed throughout the century: The reign of Ferdinand II saw glorious military victories at the start of the war, that of Ferdinand III saw mounting military defeats and a less-than-glorious end of the war, and the reign of Leopold I saw the triumphant reassertion of Habsburg power by the end of the century. Through all of this, the patronage of music played an important role in projecting a positive public image and helping to maintain imperial authority.
 
This seminar shall examine the sacred vocal music written for these three Habsburg emperors, placing it into the rich religious, political, and cultural context of seventeenth-century Vienna, as well as comparing it to music composed in other important musical centers. While much emphasis will be placed on context, just as much attention will also be given to close musical analyses of specific works. Our analyses will encompass a variety of issues and analytical techniques—such as text choice, text-music relationship, harmonic symbolism, formal-structural analysis, and rhetorical expression of the affects—all with the aim of elucidating musical meaning and understanding how the compositions would have spoken to seventeenth-century listeners.
 
 
Throughout the semester, each student shall also engage closely with a printed primary source (in facsimile), dealing with issues such as transcription, text and music editing, and performance issues, as well as putting the source into its context and teasing larger meaning out of it.
 
Classes shall be conducted primarily as discussion, with frequent student presentations.  Students shall have weekly reading and analytical assignments, in addition to assignments relating to their primary source.  There will also be a final independent research paper; this may be related to the primary source, but it could also be another topic entirely, of the student's choosing.
 
 

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