Notes 60.1 (2003) 189-191
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Music on the Margin—Urban Musical Life in Eighteenth-Century Jaca (Spain). By Miguel Ángel Marín. (De Musica, 7.) Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 2002. [405 p. ISBN 3935004497. DM 59.] Music examples, illustrations, facsimiles, bibliography, index.
Jaca? Chances are you've never heard of it. And if Jaca's population of less than 13,000 in the 1981 census makes this agricultural town in the Spanish province of Huesca sound unpromising, imagine the mere 3,311 who were there to be counted in 1787. And what of its famed composers, fêted musical institutions, flourishing music print industry, and lively opera theater? Well, there weren't any. Yet as the title of this pioneering excursion into "urban musicology" suggests, it is precisely Jaca's marginal status that makes it interesting, both in its own right, and as a case study. For this is a project in which the focus is context as much as text. It is a study that examines the ways in which musicmakers, audiences, and the citizenry interacted and engaged with the repertory. And it is in this way that Jaca and its musical institutions reveal themselves as fascinating in their own right, and important for what they teach us about other similar towns. Although the author (rather ingenuously) states that Jaca is the locus of study, not the object of study, it ultimately emerges as both.
Building on recent work in urban history, Marín's study grows directly from an interrogation of the latent assumptions underpinning such familiar binary oppositions as center and periphery, city and province, major (significant) and minor (insignificant). This book declares its methodological lineage not only in urban history, but also in such pioneering studies in music as Bruno Nettl's Eight Urban Musical Cultures (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978) and Reinhard Strohm's Music in Late Medieval Bruges (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). More recently, the essays edited by Fiona Kisby in Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), have helped to define directions for urban musicology in the Early Modern period. Our author is well aware that his approach is, to some extent, marginal not only because urban musicology is in its infancy, but also because Spain itself is routinely marginalized in the grand historical narratives of Western music.
Marín's study presents us with an admirably clear and logical structure. It begins in the archives of Jaca's musical institutions. It then defines and analyses the musical repertory, examines the ways in which that repertory responded to the forces of continuity and change, and scrutinizes its transmission and reception. The investigation closes with a large and thorough documentary appendix and a very useful glossary. Throughout, the volume is supplied with a generous array of maps, musical examples, plates, and tables.
It is fascinating to observe the author's constant efforts to meet the often conflicting demands of text and context. Nowhere is this clearer than in his treatment of chronology. Having chosen to work within [End Page 189] the framework of the eighteenth century, the author finds it necessary to address the century as a whole in order to come to terms with the problems of continuity and change within the repertory. Yet the focus narrows to a single year, 1718, when the question concerns the analysis of musicians' patterns of residence.
Marín takes us into one of the peninsula's northernmost towns, standing within a stone's throw of the French border, and focuses immediately upon the principal musical institutions: the town council, the cathedral, the Benedictine nuns, the friar communities (Dominican, Carmelite, and Franciscan), the Scolopians, the citadel, and the forty-three confraternities. This latter group has been all but ignored in Spanish musical historiography, partly because, unlike their Italian counterparts, Spanish confraternities employed musicians on a fee for service rather than on a permanent basis. Some of Jaca's confraternities were so affluent, and musically minded, that they were able to hire the...