Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography XXVIII (2003)


Joachim Braun (Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan), The Iconography of the Organ: Change in Jewish Thought and Musical Life.

The organ, a musical instrument with negative attributes in Jewish history of music mainly due to the Christian affiliation, exemplifies the processes of change in Jewish musical thought and practice. While clear archaeological evidence of the organ in ancient Palestine appears in a Samaritan-Jewish context (3rd–4th century), the biblical and post-biblical terminology (‘ugav, ardabalis, hardolis, magrepha) shows great uncertainty, even mix-up. The central source of this in the Renaissance seems to be the drawing of a magrepha as Temple instrument in Joshua ibn Ga’on’s manuscript (13th–14th century). Later manuscripts of the rabbinic literature show the organ as part of the Jewish synagogue service, which has paved the way for the instrument into Jewish musical life in later centuries. Accompanied by the Christian tradition of liturgical organ performance, the instrument was accepted in certain Jewish communities. This is a unique phenomenon of change in musical life resulting from change in iconography.

Rosina Buckland (Institute of Fine Arts, New York Univesity), Sounds of the Psalter: Orality and Musical Symbolism in the Luttrell psalter.

The Luttrell Psalter (British Library, MS add. 42.130) is a richly decorated manuscript produced for a knight of Lincolnshire some time between 1325 and the early 1340s. On many of the folios, in the marginalia, and the historiated initials, there are representations of people and hybrid creatures engaged in music-making. Originating as poems and hymns, the psalms were recited aloud or sung as an expression of individual devotion or within the Mass. The essay explores how in this Psalter their oral quality is reflected in both the formal appearance of text and illumination, and in the use of specific musical iconography. The Psalter thereby serves as a physical embodiment, a memory, and a sign of the actual performance. In the fourteenth century, theological attitudes toward music made distinctions according to instrument, use, and context. As a result, the musical imagery within the Psalter cannot be read simply as a transparent representation of practice but rather possesses symbolic possibilities. The combinations and juxtapositions of images of music-making of the Luttrell Psalter constitute a deliberate message concerning the radically opposed forms in which music can appear, the rational and liturgical vs. the devilish and corrupting. In perhaps an acknowledgment of the impossibility of controlling the latter type, the Psalter demonstrates instead an attempt to co-opt it into the service of the sacred.

Gabriele Busch-Salmen (Kirchzarten / Freiburg), Adolph Menzels »Flötenkonzert Friedrichs des Großen in Sanssouci«: Ein vertrautes Gemälde, 150 Jahre nach seiner Fertigstellung neu gesehen [Adolph Menzel’s “Flötenkonzert Friedrichs des Großen in Sanssouci”: A trusted painting newly seen 150 years after its creation].

Since 1852, when Adolph Menzel finished painting his Flötenkonzert in Sanssouci, the work remained one of the main documents demonstrating musical interests of Frederic the Great. The composition with sixteen figures, shows the king playing the flute, placed in the central position, but without any visible contact to the audience and his court musicians. Menzel was well aware of the divertissement practice in courtly life, and he purposely isolated the king to emphasize his significance as a sovereign monarch: the fortepiano is closed, his accompanist Carl Philipp Emanual Bach sits in the wrong position, and the string players are waiting. The study of the painting examines the historic and portrait genres, numerous Menzel’s preparatory sketches, and his early ideas and illustration concepts found in Franz Kuglers Geschichte Friedrichs des Grossen (1840–42)

Alan Davison (University of Otago, Dunedin), The Musician in Iconography from the 1830s and 1840s: The Formation of New Visual Types.

Several new and significant themes in the iconography of the musician were established in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Broadly speaking, these themes reflect attempts to represent the musician within the context of Romantic beliefs on the musician and their place in society. One of the main consequences for the iconography was a change in pictorial style that resulted in a new emphasis upon the physiognomic rather than the pathognomic aspects of the subject. This physiognomic emphasis could be achieved via a variety of means and be of various degrees of sophistication, ranging from the manipulation of the sitter’s physiognomy or expression to the manipulation of lighting and background. Whatever the case, the resulting emphasis reflected an attempt to highlight the “inherent” qualities of the musician rather than their emotional—and therefore merely reactive—state at any given moment in time. This physiognomic emphasis unites an otherwise disparate iconography, ranging from neo-classical and Romantic “œhigh-art” oil portraits to mass-market popular lithographic prints.

Monika Fink (Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Innsbruck), Farb-Klänge und Klang-Farben im Werk von Olivier Messiaen [Color-sounds and sound-colors in the work of Olivier Messiaen].

Olivier Messiaen belongs to those composers who have the potential to combine different sensory impressions and in whose work the color-tone analogy is important. This essay explores the importance of color in Messiaen’s creative process, his thinking in analogies, and the association of colors and sounds or modes, drawing on examples from his works, especially the early work Preludes.

Mark Howell (The Graduate Center, The City University of New York), Concerning the Origin and Dissemination of the Mesoamerican Slit-Drum.

The slit-drum indigenous to ancient Mesoamerica (which includes much of modern Mexico and Central America) is distinguished by stylistic characteristics, such as H-shaped slits and a bottom cutout. It is known from the archaeological record and versions have been used through Colonial-to-modern times. Possible sources for the instrument are examined, including the origin of the rubber-tipped mallets used to strike it (the beater and the idiophone possibly considered equal components of the sound maker). The slit-drum appears to be one among several Mesoamerican objects that have associations with Lowland and Highland cultural areas. It is proposed that the slit-drum developed in the Lowlands but that its dissemination followed Highland expansion. If so, an understanding of this association may not only reveal the origin for the instrument but also provide information concerning Mesoamerican epistemology.

Colin Huehns (Royal Academy of Music, London), Lovely Ladies Stroking Strings: Depictions of Huqin in Chinese Export Watercolours.

The essay attempts to plug some of the gaping holes in our patchy knowledge of the history of the principal family of Chinese bowed instruments known collectively as huqin. Because, prior to the reforms of Liu Tianhua in the 1920s and 1930s, these instruments were most normally played by the lower ranks of society—beggars, theatrical entertainers, prostitutes, the rural poor and the like—depictions of them in the visual arts patronised by the Chinese political establishment are extremely rare, thus denying the modern scholar perhaps potentially the most important source documenting their early evolution. However, Chinese export watercolors produced in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, because they were painted for a Western audience largely ignorant of such social connotations, contain a relatively large amount of such pictures, the huqin played mainly by ladies, presumably of the “entertainment” industry. Most are detailed portraits, and as such reveal much concerning instrument construction and playing technique, as well as dress, social status and sometimes ensemble context—in fact, they may well be the richest and most accurate contemporary source to have survived. A sequence of 25 such album leaves are discusses in detail, and the information they show is related to an account of modern playing practices.

Irmgard Jungmann (Heilbronn), Tanzen im 15. Jahrhundert—Der Reigen in Deutschland: Realität oder Imagination? [Dancing in the 15th century—The round dance in Germany: Reality or imagination?].

Dance researchers worked until recently on the premise that throughout the Middle Ages and well into the 15th century, people in German-speaking countries, just as in the rest of Europe, danced the round dance forming a line holding each other by hand and progressing either like a snake or in a circle. It was assumed that only during the 15th century the basse danse spread from Italy and France to neighboring countries. However, a closer inspection of the dance situation in Germany produced evidence that the historical development here was different. There is no indication that the round dance was performed during the 15th century among dancers of any social class. The iconographical references in particular show that in Germany only the processional formation was performed where pairs moved in a circle one behind the other. It must be assumed, therefore, that for both the rural and urban folk as well as for the courtly society, the processional formation represented a specific dance form, which must have existed in German-speaking countries long before the spread of the basse danse. Iconographic sources, which have not yet been interpreted in musical context, provide evidence that the processional formation was customary in Germany from at least 1400.

Cristina Santarelli (Istituto per i Beni Musicali in Piemonte, Torino), Il fregio con angeli musicanti di trinidad e la musica nelle missioni gesuitiche del Paraguay [The freeze with angel musicians at Trinidad and music of Jesuit missions in Paraguay].

Upon arriving to Paraguay in 1588, Jesuit missionaries founded many utopian communities (the so-called “reducciones”), that became eloquent testimonies of the highly organized and spiritually motivated lives of their Indian residents. From dawn to dark, the church bell rang marking the daily division of work and study, prayer and recreation. Not surprisingly, the church formed the physical and spiritual heart of the community, inspiring an outpouring of artistic and architectural productivity previously unknown among the natives. Expelling the Jesuits from America in 1767, king Charles III of Spain abruptly brought to an end one of the most daring and successful social experiments in the New World. Today, after 200 years of neglecting, the ruins of the missions are being rescued from the ravages of time, and remains of 30 buildings are preserved in Paraguay, Bolivia, Brasil, and Argentina. The frieze decorating the apse of the Church of Trinidad (Itapuá) is taken here as a starting point in an examination of musical life in Jesuit missions in the territory of the Guaranies during the Baroque era. The anonymous 18th-century bass-relief shows a series of angel musicians playing different instruments, such harpsichord, organ, lute, violin, oboe, bassoon, and trumpet, traditional in liturgical music of the period.

Marin Marian-Bălaşa (Institutul de Etnografie şi Folclor Constantin Brăiloiu, BucureşMusic on Money: Legitimation and Cultural Representation of the State.

Following the filigree inscribed on 20th-century paper money (the most popular posters and advertising means, that banknotes are), one can notice how states, as the owners of money, ceased promoting themselves exclusively through power symbols, and were gradually introducing illustrations of civil values and cultural symbols. With images emphasizing national culture, states promote their liberal aspects and generosity. In this context, music can charm and soften the idea of submission, which is what the supreme secular power expects from people. The example of euro is used to investigated the political struggle between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, between local symbol and federative policy, where both music and its lack tell a critical, ambiguous discourse.

Janet I. Wasserman (New York), A Schubert Iconography: Painters, Sculptors, Lithographers, Illustrators, Silhouettists, Engravers, and Others Known or Said to Have Produced a Likeness of Franz Schubert.