Translatio musicae: French and Italian music in Northern Europe, ca. 1650-1730

French and Italian music had strong impact on the Lutheran regions of Northern Europe in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. In a remarkable way, the elites in the Lutheran countries favoured and desired the music of its competitors: the French kingdom and the Roman-Catholic church. This project studies how French secular and Italian sacred music was circulated and used in the North, using the Düben collection as a case in point. We use the concept ‘translatio’ to describe the double movement of dislocation and adaptation for the new context. The project has three parts: (1) tracing and mapping routes of circulation; (2) identifying and examining the most important mediators in this process, and (3) scrutinizing and analysing some examples of local adaptation of French and Italian music for new contexts and purposes. The main source material will be the manuscripts and prints in the Düben collection, but complemented with preserved music in European libraries, and with historical inventories of now lost music, a largely neglected material. We use philological methods to trace connections between preserved musical sources and map the networks of mediators. We will also transcribe selected compositions and analyse the music, to reveal practices of adaptation and imitation. Our aim is to provide new understanding of cultural relations in early modern Europe, focusing on how contending forms of religious and political belonging were meditated through music.

The project is financed by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences and conducted by Professor Lars Berglund.