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Chapter 10 - Medievalisms: Modern Encounters with Medieval Polyphony and Song

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 April 2023

Helen Deeming
Affiliation:
Royal Holloway, University of London
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Summary

The story of how medieval polyphony and song have been approached in more recent times is the subject of our final chapter. We look at how the appearance of modern editions of medieval poetry allowed composers in the first half of the twentieth century, such as Carl Orff and Benjamin Britten, to set medieval song-texts to new music. It would take until after World War II, however, for the music of medieval polyphony and song to reach wide audiences, and we chart the history of the recordings, concerts, and festivals that have brought this music to listeners from 1950 onwards. We examine the approaches of the pioneering ensembles and directors who first performed and recorded this music in the 1950s and 1960s, looking at their influences and attitudes towards the many unknowns regarding its original performance practice. Situating the re-awakening of medieval music in the wider context of the early music revival and the ‘authentic’ (later, ‘historically-informed’) performance movements, we then move on to consider ‘medievalist’ music, especially in film, television, and video games with medieval settings.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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References

Further Reading

Breen, Edward, ‘Travel in Space, Travel in Time: Michael Morrow’s Approach to Performing Medieval Music in the 1960s’, in Studies in Medievalism, XXV: Medievalism and Modernity, ed. Fugelso, Karl, Davies, Joshua, and Salih, Sarah (Woodbridge, 2016), 89115.Google Scholar
Breen, Edward, ‘The History of Medieval English Music on Record’, Early Music, 45 (2017), 135–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cook, James, Kolassa, Alexander, and Whittaker, Adam (eds), Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen (Abingdon, 2018).Google Scholar
Haines, John, Eight Centuries of Troubadours and Trouvères (Cambridge, 2004).Google Scholar
Kenyon, Nicholas (ed.), Authenticity and Early Music (Oxford, 1988).Google Scholar
Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel, The Modern Invention of Medieval Music: Scholarship, Ideology, Performance (Cambridge, 2002).Google Scholar
Potter, John, ‘Issues in the Modern Performance of Medieval Music’, in The Cambridge History of Medieval Music, volume 1, ed. Everist, Mark and Kelly, Thomas Forrest (Cambridge, 2018), 609–26.Google Scholar
Yri, Kirsten, and Meyer, Stephen C. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Music and Medievalism (Oxford, 2020).Google Scholar
Zayaruznaya, Anna, ‘Performance: On Absent Sounds, Notes, and Words’, in A Cultural History of Western Music in the Middle Ages, ed. Deeming, Helen and Eva Leach, Elizabeth (London, in press).Google Scholar

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