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Polyphonic Music pro mortuis in Italy (1550–1650)

Antonio Chemotti, Polyphonic Music pro mortuis in Italy (1550–1650). An Introduction, Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana 2020.


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The polyphonic settings for the liturgy for the dead circulating in Italy c. 1550-1650 constitute a rich and fascinating repertory that regrettably has attracted only little attention from modern-day scholars. This book offers an introduction to the different sources that enable an historiography of polyphony pro mortuis: music collections, liturgical sources, chronicles, funeral books and further sources are woven together to map the features and functions of the music that accompanied exequies and commemorations of the departed. It becomes clear that music for the dead was regarded as a special sort of music, even in a period in which it was highly available and often performed.

Chemotti pursues this assumption further from a musical-analytical perspective, focussing on settings of the responsory Libera me Domine. The musical repertory is investigated with particular attention to intertextual relations, identifying compositional conventions that are characteristic of the liturgical context pro mortuis.

The publication of this volume has received funding through the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Munich Doctoral Program for Literature and the Arts MIMESIS.