September 6–8, 2018
Technology, Cultural Exchange, and History: The Keyboard as Interface between China and the West in the Eighteenth Century
Keyboard instruments, especially the pipe organ, have been a formidable and consistent presence in the history of Europe’s encounters with China. While the instruments may have served pedagogical, ornamental, and liturgical purposes in imperial China, their main function was diplomatic: In the history of Sino-European cultural exchange and the global technological movement, such complex and curious Western inventions became preferred gifts and tributes, and thus intermingled with larger historical narratives of intercultural encounters. This paper examines three such encounters facilitated by the keyboard and aims to invite a reconsideration of the diffusionist ideology present in both Chinese and European theories of history at the time (e.g. Huang Zongxi’s ex oriente scientia (“⻄西學中源”) and Voltaire’s “universal history”) in terms of how the keyboard serves as both an interface and interference in cross-cultural communication.
The three encounters are: the French Jesuit missionary Jean-Joseph Marie Amiot’s poorly received harpsichord performance of Rameau’s music before Chinese scholar-gentry in Peking (1754?); the Chinese poet, critic, and historian Zhao Yi’s poetic account of a performance on a newly repaired church organ in Peking (1759); and a performance given by an unnamed Chinese musician as transcribed by an anonymous European author with a serendipitously added figured bass and published in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1757). The role of the keyboard as cultural technique in these cases of crosscultural (mis-)understanding is discussed in conjunction with 1) Charles Burney’s assertion that the Chinese’s indifference to European music stemmed from their rejection of harmony and counterpoint (Rees, 1812), and 2) the curious omission of the discussion of polyphony in Lülü Zhengyi Xubian (律律呂呂正義續編, 1714), the first substantial Chinese treatise on Western music theory commissioned by the Kangxi emperor, as compared to its precursor Lülü Zhuanyao (律律呂呂纂要, 1680?).
Throughout the eighteenth century, European opinion about China shifted from idealization of its long-lasting civilization to contempt for its diplomatic aloofness and technological stalemate. Meanwhile, imperial China’s enthusiasm for and openness to the West also declined, and the increasing ambivalence toward the West, as scholars (Peyrefitte, 1989; Waley-Cohen, 1993) have suggested, incorporated a combination of anxiety and suspicion: while the Chinese consistently sought to absorb Western technical skills, they remained inimical to Western ideologies. Moving between the Chinese and the European impressions and opinions of each other (and of themselves), this paper seeks out a simultaneous rupture in the Chinese and European conception of China in a global history, registered by how the keyboard, embodying what Gary Tomlinson calls the “alphabetism” of European music (Tomlinson, 2015), amounts to a kind of “unknown alphabet” (Schwab, 1984) in the eyes and ears of the Chinese, whose own culture appears as a “closed system” in “formidable solitude,” refusing “to be drawn into the comparative school."
Baroque Music's Arrival in Japan: New Information from the Sources of the Foreign Settlements
With Japan following the isolationist policy from 1633 to 1853, after heavily suppressing and exterminating Japanese Jesuit converts in the 16th and early 17th centuries, it seems that the Japanese populace were not influenced by, or even aware of, the musical culture of baroque Europe. And yet, in the 20th and 21st centuries, Japan has produced some of the world’s foremost scholars and performers of baroque music. How exactly did baroque music and instruments first arrive in Japan, and how were they received there? Both Japanese and Western academics have given priority to governmental institutional documents to trace a process of cultural assimilation – creating a narrative focused on military music, national anthems, and adapted western folk songs in the centralised and compulsory education system of the Meiji period (1868-1912); however, in contrast to these narratives, the program notes of Japan’s only institution for musical training, the ‘Tokyo Academy of Music,’ suggest that one of the most popular and often performed repertoires by the end of the Meiji era was the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This presentation will present previously overlooked sources from the ‘Foreign Settlements’ of Japan, showing in detail how baroque music entered Japan, and exploring the processes of dissemination and reception of this repertoire. It will also show how church organs were symbolically and socially paramount to the community of Europeans and Americans living in diaspora, being the frequent subject of local newspaper stories, as well as cultural events and exchange. This is an important step in both reconsidering the cultural role of baroque music and church organs as social glue for the western trading communities in 19th-century Japan, and also as significant cultural symbols of modernity and westernisation for Japanese audiences and musicians.
Rudolf von Beckerath: Reclaiming North German Dominance in Worldwide Organ Building
The period following the Thirty Years’ War marked an era of great economic prosperity among European nations. Particularly in Hamburg, with its international seaport for importing and exporting, North German merchants benefited from an increase in international trade and commerce. Included in this population was the organ builder, Arp Schnitger, whose instruments are renowned worldwide as pinnacle illustrations of Baroque organ building.
Nearly two-hundred years after Schnitger’s success, Hamburg once again found itself at the forefront of post-war economic prosperity. Following World War II, while Germany worked to rebuild its infrastructure, a revival organ movement, the Orgelbewegung, attracted international attention to growing trends in neo-Baroque organ building. While some argue the Orgelbewegung to be a nationalistic display of German cultural superiority, its genesis coincided with the restoration of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. As a result, the architects of the Orgelbewegung positioned the organs of Arp Schnitger as model instruments upon which to perform Bach’s organ music, and Hamburg, for a second time in history, became a leading center for organ building.
Leading the way for the manifestation of the Orgelbewegung beyond Germany was Rudolf von Beckerath, whose training as an organ builder in France and Denmark is reflected in his instruments’ pan-European qualities. Beckerath represented the Baroque organ in a modern age not as a reenactment of Schnitger’s work, but rather as a revival of classic organ building elements incorporated into an instrument designated for contemporary performance. Echoing the example of Schnitger, Beckerath used Hamburg’s international waterways to both import materials necessary for organ building and to export instruments around the world. Beckerath’s success attracted an international population of organ builders to study with him, thereafter returning to their homelands and extending the legacy of North German organ building worldwide.
Saxony, Amsterdam, Miyazaki: Revisiting Zacharias Hildebrandt in the 21st Century
The Orgelpark Utopa Baroque Organ and the Cybernetics of the Hyper-Baroque
A “process reconstruction” Baroque organ in the style of Zacharias Hildebrandt infused with so-called “hyperorgan” capabilities, the recently inaugurated Utopa Baroque Organ at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam raises questions about the relevance of digital technology in historically-informed organ building, challenges notions of what constitutes a modern Baroque organ and compels a reconsideration of what can constitute Baroque in the digital age. Rather than consider the Utopa Baroque Organ as a Baroque reconstruction aesthetically and functionally divorced from its digital interfacing capabilities, I argue that the instrument’s unique affordances extends the global Baroque through new ecologies of engagement with Baroque musicking.
This paper will first show how the process reconstruction model really represents a reconstruction of Baroque cybernetics, and thus the ecological engagement with the Baroque at the level of embodied gesture. As such, historically-informed organ building, and process reconstruction in particular, have served as agents for a new global proliferation of Baroque musicking. However, in the case of the Utopa Baroque Organ, while the inclusion of digital interfacing may appear antithetical to the process reconstruction ideal, and indeed to the fundamental principles of historically-informed musicking, it offers new potential for immersion in the ecology of Baroque music through historically-informed and digitally-mediated performance interfaces across alternative gestural modalities. The Utopa Baroque Organ offers a platform with which to apply what process reconstruction has taught us about the construction of Baroque cybernetics and Baroque ecologies of practice toward a new engagement with Baroque musicking among other contemporary global musical practices, compelling new, global hyper-Baroque musicking. As such, the digitally-mediated Utopa Baroque Organ model becomes a vehicle not for the Baroque to go global, as is the case with the process reconstruction model, but rather for the global to go Baroque.
Nicolas Lebègue in the New World
Nicolas Lebègue (c. 1631-1702), organiste du roi, played a prominent and influential role in the maturation of the French classical organ style during the reign of Louis XIV. Though he traveled only minimally, his organ works enjoy the widest dissemination in print and manuscript in France of any seventeenth-century body of French organ works. As shown in two North-American colonial manuscripts, the Livre d’orgue de Montréal and Berkeley MS 776, Lebègue’s musical influence extended to the new world and solidified his place in the global baroque.
Though Lebègue published three organ books, his music came to North America in manuscript. The most famous source is the anonymous Livre d’orgue de Montréal which consists of 396 pieces, sixteen of which have been attributed to Lebègue. The lesser-known, but perhaps more significant, Berkeley MS 776 contains a copy of the entirety of Lebègue’s third organ book alongside twenty anonymous pieces in groups of four. Scholarship suggests that many of the remaining pieces in Livre d’orgue and the remaining twenty of MS 776 may also be attributable to Lebègue. Each manuscript contains challenges when considering their origin: Livre d’orgue de Montréal in its imposing quantity and Berkeley MS 776 because of a lack of significant secondary source material. Furthermore, MS 776 contains hymn settings, a genre in which Lebègue never published. However, by presenting side-by-side analyses of movements from each of the colonial manuscripts alongside Lebègue’s publications, I hope to strengthen the body of evidence suggesting Lebègue’s influence. Finally, I contextualize these musical-stylistic analyses with the present body of secondary source scholarship relating to this topic. I demonstrate and strengthen the claim that Lebègue’s influence, significance, and style extend internationally.
Todos juntos: Identity, Politics, and Claviorgans in Early Modern Spain
In 1497, Mahoma Moferriz—a morisco luthier in the Muslim quarter of Zaragoza—received a commission from Guitierre de Toledo, the Bishop of Plasencia and a member of one of the most politically savvy families in Spain. This transaction was recorded in a contract between Moferriz and de Toledo currently archived at the Archivo Histórico de Protocolos in Zaragoza. That the instrument commissioned was a Claviorgan (a composite instrument made up of a harpsichord, organ, and harp) is remarkable in itself, because very little is known of this rare hybrid instrument before 1550; that the commission was made to a morisco builder by a Catholic bishop adds yet another layer of complexity to this story. Further, the contract references other claviorgans commissioned from Moferriz by the Bishop and given by him as gifts, a fact that invites us to think about the role played by these rare keyboards within the complex network of political gift-exchange. Using the surviving contract as a point of departure, my paper explores three lines of inquiry simultaneously: the evidence for Claviorgans in Iberia before 1500 and the role played by these instruments as gifts; the issues of “identity” that can be surmised from the particular cultural and contractual dyad between the morisco instrument-builders and the Catholic court; and, lastly, how these the socio-musical networks were reshaped by geopolitical shifts in the early 16th century.
Patrick Hawkins and Thomas Strange
The Organized Piano – A Global Instrument for Domestic Music-making
The early piano was born in Italy during the Baroque with later technological improvements made in other European countries. During the same era, organ manufacturing flourished in Europe and the art of organ design was brought to the New World. By the end of the 1700s and beginning of the 1800s, piano makers such as William Rolfe in London and early American pipe organ builders were constructing hybrid piano-organs for fashionable domiciles on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, examples of these can be found in the historic keyboard collection at Colonial Williamsburg and elsewhere. Thomas Strange, Founder of the new Carolina Music Museum and donor of the William Rolfe “organized” square piano at Colonial Williamsburg, will be joined by performer/scholar Patrick Hawkins to explore the fascinating origin of these keyboard instruments and to discuss aspects of keyboard performance practices associated with them.
Baroque Du Fay with Organ: A Topography of Chant, Organists, Composers, and Organs in the Low Countries of the Seventeenth Century
In the 1580s, a reformed chanted office was composed in Leuven for the feast of the Recollectio festorum beate Marie virginis. This feast, established in Cambrai in 1457 with an office having texts by Gilles Carlier, a major theologian, and music by Guillaume Du Fay, came to be celebrated in more than seventy religious establishments across northwest Europe and at some Praemonstratensian abbeys until Vatican II. The reformed office includes one of the original antiphons by Du Fay, his longest-lived composition, because it was sung at least until 1953!
As a high-ranking feast established in churches associated with the Burgundian-Habsburg courts or otherwise prominent for their Marian images and relics and even as places of pilgrimage, the Recollectio was often celebrated with organ music. In this presentation, I reconstruct a topography of the celebration of the Recollectio with organ in the Low Countries of the seventeenth century, demonstrating thereby the interconnections and disjunctions between the dissemination of the same chanted office and the different organists and composers who decorated the Recollectio celebration with their music. I add information about the organs in the discussed churches, because it confirms the status and wealth of the churches that could celebrate the Recollectio and adds to the evidence for the diffusion of organ culture across Europe, as well as within the Low Countries. I include information I could gather about the liturgical use of the organ, surviving music (which includes several complete organ books, some recently edited or with editions in progress), and relevant performance practices. Churches I discuss include those of Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven, Liège, Roermond, Soignies, and Tongeren.
The Influence of Valencian Organ Building in Joan Cabanilles’ Organ Works - New Perspectives for Performance Practice
When dealing with the performance of Joan Cabanilles organ works, we find the total lack of original manuscripts by the Valencian organist. All the preserved sources date back to the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries, by disciples or followers who held in high esteem the music of their master. Most of these copies were made by Catalan organists or musicians who, when making the copies, introduced some modifications to adapt the music of Cabanilles to the Catalan instruments, quite different from the Valencian ones. Through the knowledge and study of Valencian organ building, we can detect the passages that can be described as “corrupted” and reconstruct what could have been the primitive text, before the alterations. In this way, a new perspective for the historical performance of Cabanilles' work is discovered and a set of new editorial criteria for the transcription and publication of his works are proposed.
Cacasenno’Secret: Adriano Banchieri and the Theory and Practice of Counterpoint and Basso Continuo in the 17th Century
Since the publication of F. T. Arnold's Art of Accompaniment from a Thorough-Bass (1931), studies of figured bass have led to a better understanding of Baroque performance practice highlighting similarities and differences among national styles. The development of the so-called tonal system and the large number of sources available have allowed a deep investigation of basso continuo in the 18th century. However, the theory of basso continuo in the 18th century is not capable of helping us to understand, or correctly deal with, the problems of the previous century, in which music theory was ruled by modality and music education was based on the study of counterpoint. Moreover, the tonal approach to 17th-century basso continuo has led to a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the sources. Consequently, Italian basso continuo which, as J. B. Christensen states in the preface to his 18th-Century Continuo Playing (Baerenreiter, 2002) “has substantially changed during its history and most indisputably influenced other national styles,” cannot be correctly understood and performed. This paper will demonstrate how, through a deeper analysis of Adriano Banchieri's L’Organo Suonarino (Venice 1605) and a comparison with other contemporary sources, it is possible to gain a clearer picture of 17th-century basso continuo — a practice that was considered the culmination of a well-thought pedagogical trail, focused on counterpoint.
After The European Organ: Historiographical Reflections and Global Extensions
It is now just over half a century since Peter Williams (who died in 2016) published his ambitious one-man study of the organ in continental Europe, from the time of Henri Arnaut de Zwolle, who was writing empirically and systematically about organs in the mid fifteenth century, to the advent of industrial-scale organ manufacture in the mid nineteenth century. The European Organ 1450–1850 (London: B. T. Batsford, 1966) has, for many, helped to define the organ – a contrivance fully formed by the late fifteenth century in terms of metal-working, joinery, linkwork, and bellows-making – through its stylish, insightful, and ever-questioning commentaries on local characteristics and inter-regional exchange. Stimulated by some key figures and informed by serious collecting, Williams also attempted to evoke the sounds of the instruments discussed and to integrate organ-building history with repertories and performance practices; his investigations frequently benefited from first-hand experience of instruments, a number of which were then behind the Iron Curtain.
The paper will look at Williams’s work on The European Organ, considering how this project sowed the seeds for his subsequent researches in organ history. But what might a newly revised edition of this book contain? Or the writing of a fresh history of this type entail? It would be a challenging task indeed to re-enact such a rounded, one-man appraisal, not least because of the desirability now to investigate the European instrument’s global reach and acknowledge newer historiographical preoccupations. In order to view the European organ from a more global standpoint several areas will be considered as case studies, such as the Baltic region and the eastern European borderlands, and also parts of Asia. As he questioned and tussled with evidence about the earliest organs, Williams became ever more mindful of the need for greater interdisciplinary research about the instrument, and this paper will conclude with an acknowledgement of this aspect of his work by looking at some larger themes pertaining to the organ and its evolution.
Paul Peeters, moderator
– with Hans Davidsson, Kimberly Marshall, Andrew McCrea, Annette Richards, and Wim Winters
Organs as a Source of Inspiration: Some Thoughts about Jacques van Oortmerssen and Organ Building
Organ building in the Netherlands during the 1970s and 1980s was the scene of interesting developments. Looking back, 1973 might be considered a key year as not only a replica of a French classical organ for the auditorium of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, but also a copy of the 1701 Uithuizen Schnitger organ for the Prinses Julianakerk in Scheveningen were inaugurated. Within Dutch organ building, historic examples became more and more important as a point of departure for new instruments. The various parts of the organ and its pipes were crafted after historical samples, and façades could either be ‘modern’ – simple, straightforward designs based on façade structures of historic organs – or truly historically-inspired designs with moldings and ornamented pipe shades.
On this scene, Jacques became active as an organ consultant and worked with several builders on a variety of projects. Companies like Vierdag (with Hans Brink as a kind of sparring partner-organ builder), Verschueren, Gert van Buuren and Henk van Eeken (and after they went their own ways, with Henk van Eeken). Once he had been appointed professor of organ at the Amsterdam Conservatoire in 1979, he increasingly used the 1734 Müller organ of the Waalse kerk as his main teaching instrument. This organ of which he was named ‘organist titulaire’ in 1982, was a rich source of inspiration to him and as time went on, Jacques considered it a real benchmark. At the same time, he had a broad interest in organs of various time periods, from the oldest preserved samples through 19th-century instruments by builders like Cavaillé-Coll, Walcker, Sauer, Ladegast, Hill, Willis, etc. Jacques – who never wished to concentrate and specialize on repertoire of one specific time period – developed a strong stylistic sensitivity with regard to instruments and their specific repertoire (or: repertoire and the specific instrument it would require). Both his ideas on organ building and his teaching practice were interlaced by this stylistic sensitivity.
Within the circles of the Dutch association of organists (“Nederlandse Organisten Vereniging”) and its journal “Het Orgel,” organ building was a hot and fervently debated topic in the 1970s and 1980s. One aspect that was increasingly brought into focus was the need to include research into various fields of organ building, for example pipe metal composition, its treatment, pipe design (scaling, pipe acoustics, voicing), and wind supply systems. This was something that Jacques was highly enthusiastic about and which he greatly supported, and these ideas did not fail to find their way to his students, both in the Netherlands and abroad.