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Young Choristers, 650-1700

Young Choristers, 650-1700

Susan Boynton
Eric Rice
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81zck
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  • Book Info
    Young Choristers, 650-1700
    Book Description:

    Young singers played a central role in a variety of religious institutional settings: urban cathedrals, collegiate churches, monasteries, guilds, and confraternities. The training of singers for performance in religious services was so crucial as to shape the very structures of ecclesiastical institutions, which developed to meet the need for educating their youngest members; while the development of musical repertories and styles directly reflected the ubiquitous participation of children's voices in both chant and polyphony. Once choristers' voices had broken, they often pursued more advanced studies either through an apprenticeship system or at university, frequently with the help of the institutions to which they belonged. This volume provides the first wide-ranging book-length treatment of the subject, and will be of interest to music historians - indeed, all historians - who wish to understand the role of the young in sacred musical culture before 1700. SUSAN BOYNTON is Associate Professor of Historical Musicology at Columbia University; ERIC RICE is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. CONTRIBUTORS: SUSAN BOYNTON, SANDRINE DUMONT, JOSEPH DYER, JANE FLYNN, ANDREW KIRKMAN, NOEL O'REGAN, ALEJANDRO PLANCHART, RICHARD RASTALL, COLLEEN REARDON, ERIC RICE, JUAN RUIZ JIMENEZ, ANNE BAGNALL YARDLEY.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-683-0
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. LIST OF MUSICAL EXAMPLES
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. INTRODUCTION: PERFORMANCE AND PREMODERN CHILDHOOD
    (pp. 1-18)
    Susan Boynton and Eric Rice

    Archival entries such as this one have provided music historians with a wealth of information on the education and administration of choirboys in the Middle Ages and early modern period. Such information has traditionally been employed in studies of performance context in which an understanding of young performers’ abilities and responsibilities contributes to an overall picture of ecclesiastical and musical life.² Mostly unexplored is the experience of young singers as performers and, especially, as children — a social group perceived by their elders as physically, intellectually, and emotionally immature. Given the nature of the surviving sources, this inattention to the experience...

  7. 1 BOY SINGERS OF THE ROMAN SCHOLA CANTORUM
    (pp. 19-36)
    Joseph Dyer

    The first documentary evidence of the presence of boy choristers at Rome occurs near the beginning of Ordo Romanus 1, a detailed description of the papal Mass on Easter Sunday at the Roman basilica of S. Maria Maggiore around the beginning of the eighth century. As the pope approached the altar precinct (presbyterium), the members of the schola cantorum lined up on either side of the processional path.

    Then they [the schola] go according to their rank in front of the altar. They stand in order on either side in two rows — paraphonistae on both sides on the outside and...

  8. 2 BOY SINGERS IN MEDIEVAL MONASTERIES AND CATHEDRALS
    (pp. 37-48)
    Susan Boynton

    Young boys were present in monastic communities in Western Europe by the early Middle Ages. The sixth-century Rule of Benedict refers to the practice of child oblation (the parents’ offering of a child as a donation to a monastery), which was the most common form of entry into the religious life until around 1200.¹ Oblates continued to form an important part of such populations through the twelfth century, but a decline in oblation accompanied the emergence of new religious orders (such as the Cistercians) who accepted only adult vocations. Benedictine monasteries continued to accept boys, although in diminishing numbers and...

  9. 3 THE MUSICAL EDUCATION OF YOUNG GIRLS IN MEDIEVAL ENGLISH NUNNERIES
    (pp. 49-67)
    Anne Bagnall Yardley

    Sources from medieval England make it abundantly clear that the primary requisite skills for each nun are the ability to read and to sing. Nuns themselves, as evidenced in the above citation from visitation records, emphasized that new nuns should be able to participate fully in monastic life and do their share of the convent’s work — matters of deep concern for them. Yet the processes through which nuns mastered these skills are considerably less clear. Evidence from a variety of primary and secondary source materials shows that throughout the Middle Ages, despite the increasing availability of written materials, instruction in...

  10. 4 CHOIRBOYS IN EARLY ENGLISH RELIGIOUS DRAMA
    (pp. 68-85)
    Richard Rastall

    This essay examines the role of choirboys in vernacular religious drama in England around 1400–1600. Setting aside the choirboy companies of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and the boys employed in the adult professional theatres, the residual repertory is that of the civic and parish dramas. The evidence is scanty and difficult to interpret, especially in the still-emerging area of parish drama; but the financial accounts concerning drama in the larger towns and cities provide some information from which a broad picture can be developed.

    The plays concerned are the anonymous biblical, saint, and morality plays, which...

  11. 5 FROM MOZOS DE CORO TOWARDS SEISES: BOYS IN THE MUSICAL LIFE OF SEVILLE CATHEDRAL IN THE FIFTEENTH AND SIXTEENTH CENTURIES
    (pp. 86-103)
    Juan Ruiz Jiménez

    The involvement of a group of boys in the daily rituals of the cathedral of Seville goes back to the restoration of its diocese, whose cathedral was dedicated on 11 March 1252.¹ My aim in this essay is to synthesize the various ways in which this important and indispensable group formed part of the daily life of the cathedral and to incorporate a new perspective based on recent studies of the archival sources.² The statutes promulgated on 29 May 1261 by Archbishop Remondo and his chapter already provide evidence for the existence of such a group in the designation alumni...

  12. 6 THE SEEDS OF MEDIEVAL MUSIC: CHOIRBOYS AND MUSICAL TRAINING IN A LATE-MEDIEVAL MAÎTRISE
    (pp. 104-122)
    Andrew Kirkman

    6 June 1491 was a day of high drama at the collegiate church of Saint-Omer in northern France.¹ At a meeting held that day, the chapter officially fired the succentor, Malin Alixandre, from his post as master of the church’s six choirboys and ordered his removal from the house that he shared with them. This action stimulated a quick and strident response from the church’s cantor, Jehan de Hemont, who was emphatic that the right of hiring and firing the master of the boys was his alone.² For its part, the chapter claimed that the cantor’s business was limited to...

  13. 7 CHOIRBOYS IN CAMBRAI IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY
    (pp. 123-145)
    Alejandro Enrique Planchart

    In the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the city of Cambrai was one of the most important musical centers in what is now northern France and Belgium. The city was the political and religious hub of an immense diocese that extended east as far as Brussels and Antwerp, and its cathedral was regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the entire region. The cathedral was richly endowed, supporting fifty prebendary canons and a large number of chaplains,¹ but there were also two important collegiate churches in the city with an active musical life: the church of Ste. Croix, which...

  14. 8 CHOIRBOYS AND VICAIRES IN THE MAITRÎSE OF CAMBRAI: A SOCIO-ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDY (1550–1670)
    (pp. 146-162)
    Sandrine Dumont

    By the end of the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, Franco-Flemish polyphony had been established as a preeminent style throughout Europe, a splendid and immense repertory inaugurated by Guillaume Du Fay, who was trained in the choir school of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Cambrai before beginning an international career in the most prestigious princely courts and other chapels (Milan, Florence, Rome). An ample bibliography attests to the interest historians have taken in this period and to musicologists’ interest in the northern school. Since the development of the Franco-Flemish school is well known, I have chosen to study the...

  15. 9 CHOIRBOYS, MEMORIAL ENDOWMENTS, AND EDUCATION AT AACHEN’S MARIENKIRCHE
    (pp. 163-172)
    Eric Rice

    When Charlemagne built what was to become the Collegiate Church of St.Mary in Aachen in about 800, he endowed the institution substantially. Since no document recording the initial endowment of the church or the establishment of its college of canons survives, however, the exact nature of the institution at the time of its founding has been the subject of debate. On one side, scholars such as Josef Fleckenstein believe that the church was a private chapel — essentially an itinerant court chapel that was installed in Aachen’s Marienkirche.¹ Other scholars have been more cautious, expressing doubt that Charlemagne’s chaplains would have...

  16. 10 THOMAS MULLINER: AN APPRENTICE OF JOHN HEYWOOD?
    (pp. 173-194)
    Jane Flynn

    This chapter will examine the further musical education and training of english choristers (after their voices had broken) between 1500 and 1560. It was customary to place the most talented young men in an apprenticeship with a master of choristers or a musician associated with a prominent ecclesiastical or collegiate institution. Using archival sources that document the activities of masters of choristers, the autobiographical manuscript produced by Thomas Whythorne,¹ an apprentice of John Heywood from 1545 to 1548, and the famous miscellany by the singer and organist Thomas Mulliner, I will argue that Mulliner was in turn Heywood’s apprentice from...

  17. 11 CANTANDO TUTTE INSIEME: TRAINING GIRL SINGERS IN EARLY MODERN SIENESE CONVENTS
    (pp. 195-215)
    Colleen Reardon

    In one of his gossipy letters from 1697, the Sienese aristocrat Fabio Spannocchi described for Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici, the absent governor of Siena, the ceremony to welcome a new novice into one of the city’s convents:

    Yesterday evening at the door of that same convent [of Monnagnese], which faces the palace of Your Highness, those little nuns performed the most beautiful polyphony as the bride made her entrance into the cloister.¹

    Spannocchi’s description of the singers as “little nuns” (monachine) seems not at all remarkable when one remembers that he, along many other writers of the time, employed...

  18. 12 CHOIRBOYS IN EARLY MODERN ROME
    (pp. 216-240)
    Noel O’Regan

    As in other cities, choirboys played an essential role in the soundscape of early modern Rome. With the exception of the Cappella Pontificia,¹ all institutions with regular choirs made use of a small number of boys. Their musical training, which was entrusted to the maestro di cappella, played an important role in the transmission of repertory and in the development of Roman styles of composition; many of these boys in turn became singers and maestri in the city’s institutions. The instruction of the Nanino brothers, Giovanni Maria and Giovanni Bernardino, who both served as maestri at San Luigi dei Francesi...

  19. GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 241-258)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 259-266)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-267)