Monteverdi, the 1610 Vespers and the beginnings of the modern musical work

Butt, J. (2018) Monteverdi, the 1610 Vespers and the beginnings of the modern musical work. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 143(1), pp. 21-50. (doi: 10.1080/02690403.2018.1434328)

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The elevated status of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers over the last century provides the starting point for an enquiry into which factors render it so durable. In going against the grain of recent attempts to discern the possible liturgical context for its original performance, this study claims that the collection as a whole (components of which undoubtedly had liturgical origins) can only be exemplary. Moreover, Monteverdi, in his intense engagement with the impersonation of liturgical chanting, has effectively rendered it the analogue of an actual service. Several features suggest that he is capturing something of the listening experience of a liturgy, complete with its distortions and memories. As a collection that is ‘about’ Vespers and which doubles the experience one might be having, this has something in common with the ‘musical work’ as defined by later classical practice, and its very religiosity resonates with the secularized ideology of musical autonomy.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Butt, Professor John
Authors: Butt, J.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Journal Name:Journal of the Royal Musical Association
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1471-6933
Published Online:26 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Royal Musical Association
First Published:First published in Journal of the Royal Musical Association 143(1):21-50
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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