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  • Ars musica septentrionalis: De l’interprétation du patrimoine musical à l’historiographie
Ars musica septentrionalis: De l’interprétation du patrimoine musical à l’historiographie. Edited by Barbara Haggh and Frédéric Billiet. (Musiques, écritures. Série études.) Paris: Presses de l’université Paris-Sorbonne, 2011. [262 p. ISBN 9782840506003. €22.] Music examples, illustrations, facsimiles, bibliography, index.

This collection of essays was prompted by the bicentennial birth anniversary of Charles-Edmond-Henri de Coussemaker (1805–76). The volume celebrates the music of northern France (“ars musica septentrionalis”) from ninth-century chant to the polyphony of the fifteenth century, and had its first incarnation as a conference held in Cambrai and Douai in 2005, directed by Barbara Haggh and Frédéric Billiet. The conference was held concurrently with an exhibition of manuscripts held in Douai, Cambrai, and Bailleul (the birthplace of Coussemaker). The exhibition inspired the publication of a separate book that included a catalog and discussion of Coussemaker’s library (Bruno Bouckaert, Mémoires du chant. Le livre de musique d’Isidore de Séville à Edmond de Coussemaker [Neerpelt: Alamire; Lille: Ad fugam, 2007]); the byproduct of the scholarly conference is the book of essays under review here. An overarching theme of these essays is a concentration, for the most part, on primary source research, including both manuscript studies and archival research. [End Page 811] Questions of repertory transmission and interpretation, liturgical issues, and historiography are broached via the examination of certain northern French manuscripts, some of the most beautiful examples of which were owned by Coussemaker, as noted by Billiet in his introduction to the volume (p. 8). Although an amateur musicologist (by profession he was a lawyer and eventually a judge) Coussemaker produced a prodigious amount of influential scholarship on the Middle Ages, and is especially known for his four-volume edition of medieval music theory (Edmond de Coussemaker, Scriptorum de musica medii aevi. Novam seriem a Gerbertina alteram collegit nuncque primum edidit E. de Coussemaker, 4 vols. [Paris: Durand, 1864–76; facsimile edition, Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1963]). The collection of essays under review is securely situated within a rigorous primary source studies approach (or “positivistic” approach, as it is now fashionably derided), although some reflection on Coussemaker’s role in the creation of the “canon” of medieval music history is also apparent, most notably in the essays of Ronald Woodley and Nils Holger Petersen. Their contributions are indicative of the self-reflective trend in medieval musicology that has begun to examine the cultural agenda set forth by such canon-makers as Friedrich Ludwig (Anna Maria Busse Berger, Medieval Music and the Art of Memory [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005]; Annette Kreutziger-Herr, Ein Traum vom Mittelalter: Die Wiederentdeckung der mittelalterlicher Musik in der Neuzeit [Cologne: Böhlau, 2003]) (discussed by Petersen, pp. 60–61).

The book has four sections that address the following topics: the musical inheritance of northern France (“Le patrimoine musical du Nord de la France”); the legacy of Coussemaker (“L’héritage musical d’Edmond de Coussemaker”); polyphony and composers of polyphony (“Polyphonies et polyphonistes”); and an interdisciplinary approach to the chansonniers of the thirteenth century (“Le chansonnier: approche interdisciplinaire”).

The first essay, co-authored by Haggh and Michel Huglo, analyzes the lists of music books inventoried in the libraries of northern France, by both monks and canons, from the ninth century up to the time of Guillaume Du Fay. The authors review the books listed in the library catalogues of the grand abbeys of the North, such as Saint-Amand, Corbie and Anchin (mostly books on musica speculativa); those of the cathedrals and large collegiate churches such as Cambrai that flourished later on (where liturgical books and books on musica pratica dominate); and they end with a discussion of the libraries of some important individuals: of particular interest, of course, is the booklist belonging to Du Fay. The next essay, authored by Huglo, is on the processionals of the diocese of Cambrai. The fifteen processionals of Cambrai outnumber those preserved in any diocese (with the exception of those at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris, p. 34). The processionals, with the richness of their rubrics, provide the basis for Huglo’s analysis of the liturgical practices of Cambrai: in particular, he discusses the rogation chants, and he traces the liturgical expansion of new feasts and offices instituted at Cambrai during the fifteenth century.

Huglo also authored the first essay of this volume’s second section. He details the manuscripts contained in Coussemaker’s library (table on p. 57). Although Coussemaker possessed more than 200 printed editions of music treatises (p. 54), he only owed four manuscripts containing treatises. These, and modern copies of manuscripts from Ghent, London and Paris, suggests Huglo, served as the primary sources for Coussemaker’s Scriptorum de musica. In the next essay Petersen untangles the influence of Coussemaker’s Drames liturgiques du moyen âge (Rennes: H. Vatar, 1860) on the study of liturgical drama. Coussemaker’s conception of liturgical drama as the precursor for modern drama (p. 64) held sway through much of the twentieth century. Petersen contends that Coussemaker’s analysis is still useful in determining exactly what type of “performative” act is constituted in medieval liturgical drama (p. 73). The final essay of this section, by Shin Nishimagi, offers valuable insight into a little-known manuscript that was part of Coussemaker’s collection: the manuscript Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Rés. 359, that contains the Dialogus de musica and Guido of Arezzo’s Epistola. Through an analysis of the manuscript relationships and chant citations, Nishimagi [End Page 812] concludes that Rés. 359 was copied in the same northern French or Belgian region as Brussels, Bibliothèque royale, ms. 784 (p. 85).

The three essays of the third section move into “Renaissance” territory and northern French polyphony. The first, by Lisa Urkevich, is a fascinating study of the motet book associated with Anne Boleyn (London, Royal College of Music, ms. 1070). Urkevich debunks the hypothesis, suggested by Edward Lowinsky, that the motet book was prepared in England in the 1530s for Anne Boleyn (Edward Lowinsky, “A Music Book for Anne Boleyn,” in Florilegium historiale, edited by J. G. Rowe and W. H. Stockdale [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971], 161–235). Urkevich presents a compelling narrative (and in many ways more interesting than Lowin-sky’s) that proposes, on paleographical and reportorial evidence, that the motet book was prepared in France ca. 1505–09, and was owned and prepared for a woman, possibly Marguerite d’Angoulême (sister of Francis I), or her mother, Louise of Savoy, and given to Anne, while she was in their service in France as a young girl. While Urkevich’s dating of the manuscript is convincing, her suggested provenance is hypothetical, as pointed out by Theodor Dumitrescu in reference to Urkevich’s dissertation (Theodor Dumitrescu, The Early Tudor Court and International Musical Relations [Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007], 150–52), relying on allusions in the motet texts and illustrations. (I find the many connections intriguing: for example, the discussion on “females, turbans, Pallas, and music,” p. 111). The codicological connections between Ms. 1070 and F-Pn f.fr. 1596, a book certainly owned by Marguerite (p. 108), should be explored further. Woodley’s essay is a fascinating historical study of the emergence of Coussemaker’s “pioneering” edition of Johannes Tinctoris (p. 122). Woodley details the historio-graphical journey of this edition, which traveled through the hands of Alexandre-Étienne Choron and François Joseph Marie Fayolle who appropriated the theorist as “French” (Fayolle transcribed the text, but never finished his edition), to François-Joseph Fétis, who was attracted to the editorial project from a Belgian nationalist perspective (p. 138), but who also did not complete his edition. Johan Guiton’s essay presents his archival research on the musician and clerk of Cambrai, Vincent Misonne, including some discussion of Misonne’s compositions and his stays in Rome.

The three concluding articles focus on the northern chansonniers. Alison Stones analyzes the historiated initials of chansonniers of Arras and Cambrai (complete with 28 plates, 15 of which are in color). Stones traces a common motif (equestrian and heraldic) across many of the Arras manuscripts, but finds that the Chansonnier W (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, f.fr. 25566) stands apart from this group in its use of full-page illustrations, as does the Cambrai-associated Chansonnier F (London, British Library, ms. Egerton 274), which does not contain the equestrian motif at all. Helen Deeming also writes about Egerton 274 in her essay: she suggests that rather than the traditional approach to this manuscript that foregrounds certain elements (such as the works by Philip the Chancellor) and segregates its contents into individual genres, she prefers to analyze the manuscript through an “interpretative axis” (p. 194) common to all the compositions in Egerton 274, that is, they are all musical pieces “cum littera.” Claire Chamiyé Couderc writes the final essay, on the secular monodies of Gautier de Coincy’s Miracles of Our Lady. Through a discussion of the orality versus literacy approaches across the performance-transmission-composition spectrum (primarily those of Paul Zumthor and Leo Treitler), she attempts to answer the question as to why certain poems and compositions in the various sources of Coincy’s work were “touchés” (that is, show variance) and others were not.

There are a few typographical or editorial errors: the reference to the chansonniers of the “twelfth” century in the introduction (p. 8) and the confusing alteration in Urkevich’s essay between the references to Marguerite as Marguerite d’Angoulême (her unmarried name) and Marguerite d’Alençon (the name of her first marriage), and also, as Marguerite d’Alançon (p. 115). In its entirety, however, this volume is a significant contribution to our understanding of the music of northern France, and a tribute to the legacy of [End Page 813] Coussemaker’s musicological scholarship, as Huglo remarks: “nous a laissé non seulement un heritage très précieux, mais surtout un magnifique exemple de perseverance dans la recherche” (p. 56).

Karen Desmond
University College Cork

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
811-814
Launched on MUSE
2012-05-12
Open Access
No
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