Lars Berglund

Translatio musicae: French and Italian Music in Northern Europe, c. 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.
Final report
The purpose and development of the project
The project aimed to contribute to the understanding of cultural relations and exchange in early modern Europe, and how different forms of cultural belonging were mediated through music. To elucidate such processes, the project focused on three areas: 1) the circulation of French and Italian music in northern Europe, including both the material circulation of music manuscripts and prints, and the intangible transmission of musical works, as well as related knowledge and skills; 2) mediators involved in these processes; and 3) the use and adaptation of the music for new purposes in new contexts, including reworking and imitations, resulting in new music based on French or Italian models. For the theoretical framework, the concept of 'translation' was central, in the combined and integrated sense of both displacement and transformation.

The project has essentially proceeded in line with the original plan, albeit with some disruption due to the pandemic. Many continental archives and libraries closed down, and it became impossible to travel to conferences. Since RJ extended the project by one year, these inconveniences did not affect the quality of the research. However, it did result in less conference participation than originally planned.

Already quite early in the project we saw that we would be able to produce more research output than the deliverables drafted in the project plan. An important foundation for our research objectives was the preparation of musical transcriptions. They were originally only intended for internal use by the PI (Lars Berglund), but he realized that it made more sense to publish them as critical editions, even though this involved some extra work. Similarily, PR Maria Schildt decided to publish her basic research on one of the important music collections in the study as a printed (and open access) catalogue.

The project yielded more outputs than initially planned also what regards articles and book chapters. While our project plan envisioned a smaller number of more synthesizing surveys, we soon realized that it was methodologically sounder and more effective to instead delve deeper into a series of case studies. As a result, we produced 16 articles and book chapters, instead of the 6 articles originally planned.

Most significant results
A central aspect of the project plan was examining how music traversed confessional, cultural, and political borders. Particularly intriguing was the elevated status and diligent use of catholic music and Lutheran courts in a period of religious tension. Our studies reveal that despite the contemporary importance of confessional belonging in society, these aspects seem to have been much less important in the context of music. Sacred pieces were easily modified so that the texts were not in conflict with Lutheran faith, especially concerning the cult of the Virgin Maria and of saints. Otherwise, the high quality and fashionable status of religious music from Italy was revealed to have been more important than confessional aspects. A similar situation regards the uses of French court music at courts in Northern Europe: fashion, and the court of Louis XIV as a role model were more important than political associations.

Another task was to identify and study mediators in the translation of music over Europe, and how processes of that kind worked. Our studies show the crucial importance of networks and established contacts, but also the importance of individuals acquiring a privileged position. Sometimes such networks are the result of political or other relations, but often they turn out to be contingent, and the result of activities not primarily dealing with music, such as travelling, diplomacy, etc. Our research also points to the hitherto underestimated importance of the Low Countries as a conduit of mediation for Italian and French music to the Lutheran regions. The printing industry flourished there, particularly in the cities of Amsterdam and Antwerp, and the region was also less politically and confessionally repressive than other parts of Europe at the time. This region has not been considered important for music history, but it was very important in this particular respect.

A third important aspect in the project was adaptation of music for new purposes, and the production of new music in Lutheran Europe, using Italian and French music as models for imitation. Our case studies show that such imitation was never just simple and straightforward replication, but complex and creative processes that often resulted in new and hybrid forms. The sacred repertoires at courts and larger cities in the Baltic Area and in Lutheran regions in general during the period under scrutiny in the project was doubtlessly strongly dependent on Italian models, but this did not result in mere copies, but in new and idiosyncratic styles and solutions that combined local traditions with imported ideas. In a similar way, the secular musical style pioneered by Jean-Baptiste Lully at the court of Louis XIV served as a model for North European chapel masters, yet it was consistently adapted to accommodate local traditions, needs, and tastes.

The project shows that there is a need for more case studies into these processes and the interesting repertoire resulting from them. In fact, our methodological approach has already been adopted by colleagues in Europe, resulting in similar projects on focusing on comparable materials, for instance a project funded by the Suisse National Science Foundation (SNSF).

New research questions and areas
Particularly, practices of adaptation and imitation and not least stylistic hybridization warrant further studies, and the PI (Lars Berglund) intend to pursue this avenue, focusing on music produced in the Baltic Area, using Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck as a case of point. It has also occurred that there is an interesting potential for more systematic studies on the Italian sacred repertoires in terms of recurring conventional schemata, studies that could draw on current innovative developments within eighteenth century music regarding schema theory and partimento studies.

There is also potential to expand the time span further into the eighteenth century, working with the rich collections of music surviving in northern Europe, not least in Sweden. The current infrastructural project ‘Music at Court and University During Sweden’s Age of Liberty (1718-1772), (In19-0158:1) will provide ample resources for such an endeavour. Simultaneously, the changing social and cultural context of that repertoire will likely further challenge the approaches used and perspectives generated in the completed project, fostering incentives for methodological development. This is something that PR Maria Schildt plans to pursue.

Research dissemination and collaborations
The project outputs consist in a number of articles, book chapters, and books published in various channels. Some of them has been submitted to journals, some are the result of collaborations or conferences resulting in anthologies. All of them have undergone a peer-review process, and all of them is, or will be published in open access. We have also presented papers at international and national conferences. Apart from these academic outputs, we have presented more popularized lectures at a number of occasions and published some shorter, popularized essays.

In the first year, we arranged a conference at Vitterhetsakademien in Stockholm, where we invited some of the leading international scholars in the field. It resulted in a stimulating conference and an anthology that we edit, which is to be published in the academy series, comprising 13 chapters with case studies and an introduction written by Berglund & Schildt.

We collaborated within a PhD winter school arranged by the University of Padua, were we presented lectures based on our research in the project and then published them as chapters in a resulting anthology. We have also collaborated with the SNSF project L’opera italiana oltre le Alpi, by inviting their main researcher to Uppsala, participating in their conference, and contributing one chapter each to their forthcoming publication.

In 2023 we collaborated with the Royal Academy of Music and the ensemble Göteborg Baroque on a concert program and an afternoon of outreach lectures about Italian and French music at the Swedish royal court.
Grant administrator
Uppsala University
Reference number
SEK 3,918,000.00
RJ Projects