Wednesday, April 15 at 3:00 PM in the IASH Conference Room (LN1106)
Paul Schleuse, Associate Professor of Musicology, Binghamton University
“Image, Imitation, Imagination: Woodcut Illustrations in Adriano Banchieri’s Music Books”
Illustrations in prints of renaissance music are extremely rare, beyond generic elements like initial letters, decorative borders on title pages, and printer’s marks. When they do appear they can tell us much about a book’s function: as unusual (and expensive) additions they could not have been used haphazardly; as images not visible to a separate audience they strongly suggest that the music was intended for the enjoyment of the singers themselves. A handful of Venetian prints from the years around 1600 use images of theatrical performances in precisely this way, most notably Orazio Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso (1597), whose woodcuts were custom-made to portray situations from the commedia dell’arte-style scenario that unifies the book. Vecchi’s imitator Adriano Banchieri composed no fewer than four distinct books of three-voice canzonettas that rewrite L’Amfiparnaso and also use woodcut illustrations, but they do so in a more haphazard manner. As I will show, most of Banchieri’s images were recycled from a set of at least thirty-one generic theatrical woodcuts that first appeared in prints of Venetian comedies in 1591 and 1592. These illustrations will shed new light on Banchieri’s purpose in repeatedly re-inventing his theatrically themed canzonettas, on the recreational function of these books, and on his shifting views of performance practice for these works at a time that also saw the emergence of opera.