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La musica e il mondo: mecenatismo e commmittenza musicale in Italia tra Quattro e Settecento.

Unlike some older historical disciplines, musicology has produced very few anthologies of patronal studies. This is true despite a general acknowledgment, in a bibliography that spans more than 40 years, of patronage as one of the significant social processes in preindustrial Europe. Renaissance scholars should therefore welcome the present collection and appreciate its attempt to sum up an area of research which has been the subject of particularly intense musicological debate for the past decade.

Claudio Annibaldi, editor of the present volume, is alert to a broad range of problems in Renaissance patronal studies, but he maintains a specifically Italian emphasis in content and point of view. The book comprises a lengthy introduction, a segment devoted to philosophical, methodological and practical difficulties facing the researcher, three sections which treat Italian Renaissance courts, religious institutions and academies and their distinct repertories, and a final section which addresses the simultaneous rise of impresarial opera and the decline of humanistic and princely support. There are also suggestions for new avenues of investigation and a select bibliography.

One might argue with Annibaldi's choice of already published articles for inclusion in this anthology, given the substantial number of excellent studies from which to choose, but his selections seem to have been made with a keen eye to those which would best illustrate certain of the field's possibilities and limitations. Included are apt summations of the thorny problems of patronage research by Howard Mayer Brown and Allan Atlas. Other articles, by Oliver Strunk, Hans Joachim Marx, John W. Hill and Herman-Walther Frey, are exemplars of analytical, archival and other methodological approaches. Claude Palisca and Owen Jander treat the predominantly humanistic intellectual environment of the era, while Lorenzo Bianconi, Thomas Walker and Margaret Murata discuss its demise and propose new directions for research.

The essential rationale for this anthology's inclusions can be found in the editor's lengthy introduction and brief forewords to each section, as well as in the title of the book itself. Annibaldi vigorously argues against a traditional, "Romantic" view, which has focused on a benevolent patron who provided generous artistic sponsorship. Il mondo of his title rather suggests a much more pragmatic frame of reference. It infers a conscious awareness, on the part of patron and musician alike, of a much broader community which served as a swift arbiter of taste, conferring approval or disapproval, establishing reputations, creating markets, etc. Humanism may have set the cultural tone, but economics, prestige and power were greater motivators for the production of musical repertory during the Renaissance.

Annibaldi, whose interests are cultural, social, economic and methodological, reserves some of his more trenchant comments for the central role played by American and English musicologists in Italian patronal studies. While lauding their fundamental contributions, he nevertheless laments a certain cultural and linguistic distance from their subject. He chooses two full-length works, by Lewis Lockwood on Ferrara and Ian Fenlon on Mantova, for their more traditional emphases on the creation of unique polyphonic repertories for prideful court patrons. These he contrasts provocatively with views which place greater emphasis on the complex economic and cultural milieu of the Italian Renaissance. Even if some readers may not entirely subscribe to Annibaldi's characterization of the present range of opinion or to his prescriptions for future musicological research, they will find his ideas interesting and thoughtful. This useful volume is sure to add fuel to an already lively debate.

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Author:Edwards, Rebecca A.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 1995
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