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Studies in the History of Italian Music and Music Theory.

This volume, a collection of articles (all but one previously published) by the distinguished musicologist, Claude V. Palisca, is a model of its genre. Palisca has not attempted to represent his work in all of its breadth (he did not include any articles subsequently reworked in his books and monographs). Instead he focuses on several topics that have occupied him for nearly four decades: "the transition from strict counterpoint in the mid-sixteenth century to the experimentation with new, freer, idioms at the beginning of the seventeenth; the search for verifiable scientific truth as a basis for music theory; the ascendancy of the power of the verbal text in musical settings; and the recovery and imitation of the musical culture of antiquity" (vii).

The first part, devoted to studies in the history of Italian music theory, explores the understanding of classical theorists (Boethius and Aristoxenus) during the Renaissance and offers interpretations of several Renaissance and Baroque theorists (including Vincenzo Galilei, Marco Scacchi, and Erasmus of Goritz). Perhaps the best known and most important of the essays in this group is "The Artusi-Monteverdi Controversy," which considers a central issue of music history: the relationship of music and text and the role of harmonic innovation. Throughout this part of the volume, Palisca's distinctive contribution is his command not only of Greek and Roman theory (often highly technical), but also of its reception in the Renaissance.

Part two, "Studies in the History of Italian Music," is somewhat more heterogeneous. While the essays are exemplary in the careful interpretation of writings about music, the focus shifts to the music itself. Many of them deal with the context, style, and theories of early opera, monody, and recitative; others consider issues such as musica reservata and mannerism. Several of these articles have become classics of the discipline (for example, the study of Burmeister's analysis of a Lasso motet in terms of rhetorical figures, "Ut oratoria musica: The Rhetorical Basis of Musical Mannerism").

Palisca has neatly solved the major problem in this sort of volume: how to incorporate subsequent research while still presenting essays in essentially their original form. He has included prefatory remarks (some brief, some quite extended) to explain the historical context of the original publication and to trace the subsequent development of the field. He has taken advantage of the opportunity to correct minor errors (the volume benefitted from the expert attention of Bonnie J. Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens of Oxford University Press), and to include texts in the original language (the Cavalieri article is an important case in point). This version of these essays should now be considered authoritative.

There is much to praise in this collection. From the point of view of music historiography, we see the development of a field over time and appreciate the impact of a major figure like Palisca on the discipline. We also have ready access to essays, some of which have never before been published in English and some of which appeared only in inaccessible books such as conference reports and Festschriften. The minor drawbacks of this sort of anthology (for example, the duplication of the Lasso analysis in two essays or changing viewpoints concerning Monteverdi's connection to his brother's famous polemic (compare pages 22 and 33) do not diminish the pleasure that this reader has in having these important and interesting essays ready to hand - with an index! This book is a must not only for research libraries but for any serious scholar of the Italian Renaissance.

JESSIE ANN OWENS Brandeis University
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Author:Owens, Jessie Ann
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1997
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