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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 19 (2013) No. 1

Published 2017

Jeffrey Kurtzman* responds:

Although the idea of a cornetto accompanying the boys to fill out a four-part ensemble is attractive, I find it very difficult to see in the woodcut on Finck’s title page what Pilger describes. Firstly, all one sees extending from the mouth of the figure supposedly playing a cornetto is something very short before it disappears behind the man in charge of the codex. The presumed player’s mouth is wide open, and the position of what Pilger interprets as an instrument is such that it can’t be a cornetto, which requires a much different relationship between the instrument and the lips. Nor is the figure associated with the boys, who are in front, but rather with a group of male singers in the rear. One might ascribe the problematic open mouth to a certain degree of artistic license or inaccuracy (not uncommon in woodcuts), but the two crumhorn players are much more accurately depicted with respect to their mouths and their instruments, to the point of their puffed cheeks being clearly visible. If the individual of whom Pilger writes is indeed playing an instrument, it would more likely be a small recorder, although even then one would expect it to extend from the center of a closed mouth, not the extreme side of a wide open mouth. Pilger also proposes that what we have called a slide trumpet is possibly a trombone, which is much more plausible. The very existence of slide trumpets is still somewhat controversial, and it is conceivable that what is intended by the foreground instrument is indeed a trombone. Although what I’ve conjectured may be a recorder is too poorly depicted to be sure it’s even an instrument, the idea that there is a four-part instrumental ensemble doubling the four choral parts annotated in the codex is indeed appealing and I thank Mr. Pilger for the suggestion.


*Jeffrey Kurtzman (jgkurtzm@me.com) is Professor of Music at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610: Music, Context, Performance (Oxford University Press, 1999) and a performing/critical edition of the Monteverdi Vespers (Oxford University Press, 1999). He is also the editor of a 10-volume series of Seventeenth-Century Italian Music for Vespers and Compline (Garland Publishing 1995-2003), General Editor of the Opera omnia of Alessandro Grandi (American Institute of Musicology) and Monuments of Seventeenth-Century Music (Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music), and co-author with Anne Schnoebelen of A Catalogue of Mass, Office and Holy Week Music Printed in Italy, 1516-1770 (Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music, Instrumenta 2).

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