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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Music as a delight of god and men : absolutism, genre, and instrumental music in seventeenth-century Salzburg Beck, Kimberly Jean


The seventeenth century was an age of absolutist ideology during which many European princes took upon themselves trappings of both religious and secular authority. Composers in the service of absolutist patrons were compelled to provide music that could move easily between sacred and secular venues and represent both facets of the prince’s power. Contemporary conceptions of musical classification exhibit this porous threshold between religious and profane genres and performance spaces. In this dissertation, I show how a flexible conception of musical genre—one in which traditionally sacred and secular idioms were blended in diverse ways—illustrated the dual nature of the authority of Salzburg’s absolutist Prince Archbishop. The diverse oeuvre of Salzburg’s composers calls into question the very definition of musical genre in the period. While a modern conception of fixed musical genres is manifest in theoretical treatises of the time, musical evidence suggests that well-defined genre classifications did not practically exist in the seventeenth century. Rather, composers took a malleable approach to genre, often blending different texts, musical forms, and styles to craft musical compositions latent with meanings that encompass several genres. In the first chapter, I consider genre as described in contemporary treatises and argue that modern literary genre theory provides a useful lens for the study of genre in the period. Chapter 2 turns to the sacred repertoire of Salzburg, which in its variety of centonized texts, timbres, and instrumentations deviates from the stylistic norms of liturgical genres. In Chapter 3 I explore the representational capabilities of the large-scale works performed during spectacles that were symbolic of the power and piety of Salzburg’s Prince Archbishop. Salzburg’s instrumental ensemble sonatas, explored in Chapter 4, reveal two particular uses for the term “sonata” and point to the genre as a site of both representation and innovation. The final chapter considers the solo sonata as a devotional aid in the context of cyclic spiritual exercises in Salzburg, where music transcended the limitations of genre to move between notionally sacred and secular performance spaces to represent the piety and power of the Prince Archbishop.

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