Harmony's Entrancing Power: Music in Early Modern England (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a fall 2005 faculty weekend seminar.

This weekend seminar gathered twelve to sixteen faculty participants for collaborative investigations into the place of music in the larger world of the politics, religion, and culture of England and the other nations of the “Atlantic Isles” during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The seminar departed from the traditional histories of music that take as their subjects the lives and works of major composers. Instead, and drawing where possible on the Folger collections, participants explored the social and cultural contexts for music with such topics as music’s role in promulgating religious and political ideology; the commerce of music (audiences, means of transmission); systems of patronage; education and training; the role of music in drama and entertainment of all kinds; views about music’s affective powers; and the intersection of popular and elite culture. Topics that explore connections between England and the Continent or the New World were also welcome. A set of common readings that reflect current scholarship about music focused discussion. A technical background in music was not required.

Director: Jessie Ann Owens is the Louis, Frances, and Jeffrey Sachar Professor of Music at Brandeis University. She is the author of Composers at Work: The Craft of Musical Composition 1450-1600 (1997), and series editor of British Music Theory 1500–1700. Her current research explores “key” in early modern England.