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Between Byzantium and Venice -WESTERN MUSIC in CRETE

Between Byzantium and Venice -WESTERN MUSIC in CRETE

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Published by Stavros Girgenis

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Published by: Stavros Girgenis on Sep 08, 2012
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Between Byzantium and VeniceWestern Music in Crete
NICOLAE GHEORGHI
ŢĂ
 Department of Conducting and Complementary InstrumentsNational University of Music33rd
Ş
tirbei Vod
ă
Str., 010102, Bucharest, s1ROMANIAnaegheorghita@hotmail.com
 Abstract: -
Beginning with the year 1211 Crete is building up one of the most fascinating and significant formsof cultural identity that featured the Mediterranean See along its whole history. The current study investigatesthe cultural, religious and political background that generated the development and rise and of the westernmusic tradition in Crete and its forms during the entire of the Venetocracy period (1211-1669).
Key-Words: -
Music in Crete, Venetocracy, Instruments, Organ, Church Music, Secular music, Polyphony
1 Introduction
Beginning with the year 1211, Crete becomesnot only the most important Byzantine territoryunder the administration of the Republic of Venice,but also the ideal refuge space of Helinophones,once the last bastions of the Eastern Empire havedisappeared. Subsequent to a rather uncertain andturbulent 13th century, beginning with thefollowing one, Crete enjoys economic prosperityand political stability, which favours anunprecedented development of arts and literature,and especially visual arts: painting and architecture.For more than four centuries and a half, while theVenetocracy lasted (1211 - 1669), the interactionbetween Byzantine and Latin cultures, despite thedoctrinaire differences, will give birth to anextremely original cultural and artistic identity. Inthis regard, remarkable personalities have arisen,poets such as Vincenzo Cornaro (1553 - 1613/14),author of the most important Cretan literary work -
 Erotokritos
, or painters such as NikolaosPhilanthropinos (ca.1375 - 1435) -
magister artismusaice in ecclesia Sancti Marci
and DomenikosTheotokopoulos,
alias
El Greco (1541 - 1614).While various specialists studied quiteattentively the other arts, the Venetian Creteliturgical music [1], especially when influenced bythe western culture still remains one of the mostneglected territories and the most insufficientlyresearched. Therefore, the questions rising withregard to our subject are multiple and problematic:were there choirs in the Latin churches andmonasteries on the island? Moreover, if there were,what types of repertoires were being promoted inthe religious services: polyphonic or just theGregorian monody chant? Were there orchestras,and which was their place in the life of the Catholicor Byzantine Churches? On the other hand, to whatextent was the organ used in the liturgical space andby whom?It is difficult to offer a satisfying and definitiveanswer to all these questions, since the sources,especially for the first part of Venetocracy, arerather indirect. The archives in the Italian librariesreveal that the western music art in Crete becomes arather widely spread phenomenon beginning withthe second half of the 15th century. At that time,subsequent to numerous unsuccessful intents toinsure the domination on the inhabitants, theVenetians eventually are able to establish amoderate control over the island, thus favouring thepenetration of Latin culture into its urban centres.
2 The Organ in the Church
Strictly musically speaking, without any shadowof doubt, the polyphony was the most significantimpact of the West on the Cretan ecclesiastic music.The development on the island of western originchurches and institutions (especially Franciscan andDominican ones), will encourage the promotion onthe undertaken territory of the repertoire taken overfrom the great liturgical centres of the Italianpeninsula, most probably Venice, Genoa and Rome.At the same time, it seems that that two choirs in theEternal City - the choir in the Sistine Chapel or
Latest Advances in Acoustics and MusicISBN: 978-1-61804-096-185
 
Sacellum Sixtinum
(the chapel or the ApostolicPalace, the Pope’s official residence in Vatican) andthe papal choir at the San Pietro basilica - GiuliaChapel (a group that among others includedGiovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina [1525/26 - 1594],the most important
maestro di cappella
of theCinquecento and Domenico Scarlatti [1685 - 1757])will play an extremely important part in dispersingthe western music culture in Crete. The organ wassurely the most important instrument transplanted inthe Cretan Latinity musical-liturgical life. There aredata confirming that ever since the first half of the15th century, besides the catholic cathedral SaintTitus, located in the isle capital - Chandakas orCandia (Heraklion today), there were at least otherthree Latin churches where the service includedorgan music: the Great Monastery of Saint Francis(Franciscans) [2], the monastery of Saint Peter(Dominicans) [3] and the nuns monastery of SaintCatherine. We might add the San Marco basilica,which was a church belonging to the duke who didnot pertain to the local catholic archbishop, butdirectly to the Venetian duke of Crete.The Cretan Ioannes Papadopoulos, high clerk inthe Venetian administration in Heraklion, refugee inPadova because of the island capital conquest by theTurks in 1659, relates in his memories writtenbetween 1625 and 1645 that in Saint Titus the organwas present along the whole Venetocracy [4], a factalso confirmed by several ecclesiastic authorities of the time [5]. Other sources indicate that not only thecapital benefited of this instrument, but other citieson the island as well. Another example of the kindwould be the Latin bishop Giorgio Perpignano(1619 - 1621), who, when describing the cathedralof the Saint Virgin in Chania, reminds us of theelegance and beauty of the instrument ornamentingthe saint cult location [6]. As well, the same bishopspeaks of a portable organ in the nuns Dominicanmonastery Madonna de’ Miracoli in the same town[7]. Quite astonishingly surprising for our topic isthe fact that the ecclesiastical organ (probably in asmall, portable format) existed not only in thecatholic cult locations, but also in some Byzantinechurches in the capital Heraklion and, mostprobably, in other towns and cities [8]. As one couldnotice, the organ history in Crete has such alongevity and significance the liturgical life of theLatin Church, which we could have hardlyimagined. The level of appreciation of thisinstrument and the intensity it is required by theecclesiastical environment makes it that importantnames of Italian constructors are invited to endowthe respective institutions with an organ the. Such aconstructor is Vincencius de Monferat, none otherthan the famous organ constructor VincenzoColombi de Casale Monferrato who worked inVenice between c. 1528 - 1571, called in March1526, for the sum of 72 ducats, to build such aninstrument in the church of Saint Francis monasteryin [9]. With regard to the organ players, they werecoming either from Italy, such as Paulo Colla(1563), Raphael (1563), Anibal Antegnano (1571)and Camillo (1584), or they were Cretan, such aspriest Gabriel Faletro (1465) or lawyer OliveiroStella (1561 - 1562). The latter was an organ playerat Saint Francis. All of the above worked in thecapital Heraklion.
3 The secular music
After the IVth Crusade (1204), the Cretan’sreception and interest for the western musical artwere rather high, as they penetrated all the culturallayers, no matter the class and religious orientation.Musicians from Italy [10], professionals knownunder the name of 
 piffari
-who were supposed to beable to play at least two instruments and to benefitof cultivated voices-were leaving continental Europein order to occupy a probably better remuneratedposition at the courts of Latin nobles and dignitariesin the newly conquered territories. As the doge of Venice was enjoying such an orchestra, it is obviousthat the pattern would be taken over as well by theadministration and high class in Crete. As a result, aformation composed by
 piffari
was established, andit was present at all the lay and religious feasts onthe island [11]. The documents of that time leavesus to understand that the repertoire promoted by the
 piffari
at the Cretan duke palace and at the richnobles and dignitaries courts was a traditional one,mainly Venetian, and preponderantly lay (
cantilenasinhonestas
). This was the case at least in thebeginning of the 16th century when, at the deceaseof the Venetian aristocrats Zorzi Fradelo andZuanantonio Muazzo-famous for their unorthodoxbehaviour, there were interpreted the most wellknown madrigals and lay chants, in Italian andGreek languages, that the youngsters were singingin their nocturnal peregrinations in the capital’sneighbourhoods.One of the most important feasts that were“imported” from the world of the Serenissimarepublic was the Carnival held yearly in the islandcapital, Heraklion, after the celebration of Theophany. On this occasion in an atmosphere of 
Latest Advances in Acoustics and MusicISBN: 978-1-61804-096-186
 
great celebration, one could hear besides serenadesand madrigals, almost all types of instruments. But,which were these? The same memories writer of the17th century, Ioannes Papadopoulos, tells us how atthe ad hoc syndrophies during the Cretan hotsummer nights, Latin and local nobles of variousranks [12], younger or less young, neverthelessalways accompanied by musicians, were concertingin the streets of the city until late at night and,sometimes, till down [13]. The instrumentsaccompanying them were named mandola, lute,violin, bass, flute and guitar, and the interpreterswere either hired or, most times, rich localinhabitants coming the majority of them from thebarbers crafts, who were joining the group for theirown pleasure. Of the multitude of such repertoirescirculating at the time, the only documentsdiscovered so far are nine odes (lyrics and verses)composed around 1605 by the Cretan monk Cherubino Cavallino and dedicated to the island’sarchbishop Aloisios Grimani. The manuscript is atMuseo Correr in Venice.
4 Music Schools
The best-known western ecclesiastic musiceducation institution was the one at Saint Tituscathedral in the Cretan capital. It was foundedtowards the end of the 15th century, more preciselyin 1474. Nevertheless, until then, a first referenceregarding the presence of polyphonic music art of Western Europe orientation on the island, issupplied to us by Stephanos Sachlikis [14], a localpoet who lived during the second half of the 14thcentury. This uses in one of his poems the verb
 µπισκαντάρω
(
biscantaro
) [15], a well-knowntechnical term referring to archaic polyphony fortwo voices known as
biscantus, biscantare,discantus
or
cantus planus binatim
. Surely, besidesthis type of primitive polyphonic chant, the Latinchurches and monasteries were also promoting theGregorian chant [16], in its various forms, since thetime canons were stipulating that in order to becomea catholic priest one had to be able to write and toread [17]. In the acts of a synod held in Heraklion inNovember in the same year 1474, a synod presidedby the Latin archbishop of Crete HieronymusLandus/Lando (†c.1497) and future Latin patriarchof Constantinople (1474 - c.1496), there isconsigned that both the ecclesiastic music chant andteaching were going through a continuous state of decadence and that few members of the clergy at thefamous catholic cathedral Saint Titus were still ableto chant, ”fearing that soon enough the chant wouldbe no longer listened to not even at the religiousceremonies, which would scandalise the whole city”[18]. Thus, at the intervention of the high prelate, itwas decide that two musicians (
succitores
) shouldbe hired, paid from the incomes of the church or thecapitulum (the canonists body of a catholiccathedral) in order to replace the chanter when hewas to be absent [19]. As well, besides the liturgicaltasks, they had to be able to teach music toclergymen who wished to improve in the art of chant, and the young clergy had to attend thecourses at least one year [20]. As every western ritechurch had to own an organ, the above documentimposes not only the hiring of an organist at SaintTitus, obviously subsidised from the same funds of the church or the archbishop, but also encouragedthe clergy to study this instrument, most probably inItaly, and to return to the island after the studiesperiod, so that the cathedral would not lack theorgan during its religious services. Remarkablyinteresting is that, if in the Italian peninsula theorchestras were part of the religious services, inHeraklion this was never allowed, neither in theLatin ones, nor in the Byzantine ones [21].The study of the same documents in the archivereveal that ever since the 14th century, theinstruments taught on the island were the trumpet,the flute, the lute, the guitar, etc., which explainswhy, beginning with the second half of the 15thcentury and till the year of its conquest by theOttomans (1669), most instrument players (
 piffari
)in Crete were Greek orthodox [22]. It seems thatthese Cretans interpretative mastery was recognisednot only locally, but also in the centres of apowerful music tradition, such as Venice [23] or thecities on the Dalmatian coast, especially Dubrovnic[24]. Moreover, even if some of them were notremunerated for their representations as theybelonged to the crafts, as there were the ones in theones in the barbers craft [25], nevertheless there alsoexisted the “job” of the instrument player (
sonatori
),an occupation consigned ever since the year 1381.Surprisingly enough, some of the musicians werewomen, as it is the case of Petrinella de Armer, anexceptional chanter and instrument player in Crete,with a remarkable artistic career in Venice, Padovaand Rome, lover of the well known patron of artsand writer Alvise Luigi Cornaro (1467 - 1566),author of 
 Discorsi della Vita Sobria
.Besides the instruments, the dancing lessonswere extremely appreciated and encouraged,especially by the aristocratic world, since in the
Latest Advances in Acoustics and MusicISBN: 978-1-61804-096-187

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