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Title: Musical thought and the early German Reformation
Author: Gilday, Patrick E.
ISNI:       0000 0003 9935 0520
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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German musicology has customarily situated a paradigm shift in musical aesthetics some time during the first half of the sixteenth century. This dissertation examines the suggestion that German Reformation theology inspired a modern musical aesthetic. In Part One, the existing narrative of relationship between theological and musical thought is tested and rejected. Chapter 1 analyses twentieth-century music historians' positive expectation of commensurability between Luther's theological ideas and the sixteenth-century concepts of the musical work and musical rhetoric, concluding that their positive expectation was dependent on a Germanocentric modernity narrative. Chapter 2 assesses Listenius' Musica (1537), the textbook in which the concepts of the musical work and musica poetica were expounded for the first time. I argue that, since Listenius' textbook was intended as a pedagogical tool, it is inappropriate to read his exposition of musica poetica and opus as if logical sentences on musical aesthetics. Part Two investigates the treatment of musica in the theology of early German Reformation disputants. Chapter 3 finds that Luther's early musical thought was borrowed from the late mediæval mystics, and resisted the influence of the Renaissance Platonists. Chapter 4 shows that, far from embracing humanist ideas of musical rhetoric, Luther's Reformed musical aesthetic became increasingly anti-rational and sceptical of music's relation to verbal meaning. Chapter 5 examines the discussions of music by the German Romanist polemicists. It finds that their music-aesthetic assertions were opportunistic attempts to situate the Lutherans outside the bounds of orthodoxy. The dissertation concludes that the discussions of music in early German Reformation texts ran counter to the general sixteenth-century trajectory towards a humanistic or modern aesthetic of music. It further argues that the aesthetic proposals of sixteenth-century German theologians should be taken seriously in the formation of our present-day picture of sixteenth-century musical thought.
Supervisor: Rees, Owen Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early Modern Britain and Europe ; Intellectual History ; 16th Century music ; Church history ; Luther ; Listenius ; Musica poetica ; Georg Witzel ; Conrad Wimpina ; Johannes Cochlaeus