The Articulation of Cultural Identity through Psalm Motets, Augsburg 1540–1585 Public Deposited

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  • October 10, 2018
  • Eagen, Megan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music, Musicology Graduate Program
  • In this dissertation, I analyze the social and religious climate in Augsburg from 1540–1585 through the lens of psalm motets. The period between the initial shockwave of the Reformation and the sociocultural upheavals that ultimately produced the Thirty Years War may be characterized as one of intense negotiations regarding religious freedoms. The environment encouraged and even necessitated the development of materials oriented toward specific confessional groups. At the same time, residents of biconfessional cities such as Augsburg needed to find subtle or nonconfrontative ways to express their views. Despite both nascent and deep-seated differences, Catholics and Protestants of diverse sects all used the Psalter. This study interprets selections and centonizations of musically set psalm texts as indicators of multireligious communal identities. Source materials consulted for this project include over one hundred prints and manuscripts of motets held at the Augsburg State and City Library and at the Bavarian State Library in Munich. The makeup of this repertory is defined by Augsburg’s close connection to the Habsburg dynasty: composers represented in these volumes were active almost exclusively within the bounds of the Holy Roman Empire, and many composed for imperial courts. Preliminary findings showed that certain psalm texts were set with far greater frequency than others across a variety of contexts (liturgical and nonliturgical books; Latin, German, and polylingual sources; etc.). I argue that settings of the most frequently-used psalms speak to shared experiences. Central themes of these texts include exile and ostracization; personal suffering that results from earthly injustice; and the explanation and elucidation of religious doctrine. All of these relate to the struggle of living in a biconfessional city at a time of significant political and religious change. I hold that a majority of psalm motets in sources produced or acquired for use in mid-sixteenth-century Augsburg present materials that cut across confessional lines. The psalms that come into prominence through this music do not offer fully-formed religious instruction, like sermons given in a confessionally-stable landscape, but instead highlight topics for contemplation and reflection. Moreover, the conversations opened by these works are relevant to individuals of diverse beliefs, with some apparently resisting confessional demarcation.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • von Bernuth, Ruth
  • Carter, Tim
  • Crook, David
  • MacNeil, Anne
  • Nádas, John Louis
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2016

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