The Flower of Paradise: Marian Devotion and Secular Song in Medieval and Renaissance Music

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9780195399714: The Flower of Paradise: Marian Devotion and Secular Song in Medieval and Renaissance Music

There is a striking similarity between Marian devotional songs and secular love songs of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Two disparate genres--one sacred, the other secular; one Latin, the other vernacular--both praise an idealized, impossibly virtuous woman. Each does so through highly stylized derivations of traditional medieval song forms--Marian prayer derived from earlier Gregorian chant, and love songs and lyrics from medieval courtly song. Yet despite their obvious similarities, the two musical and poetic traditions have rarely been studied together. Author David J. Rothenberg takes on this task with remarkable success, producing a useful and broad introduction to Marian music and liturgy, and then coupling that with an incisive comparative analysis of these devotional forms and the words and music of secular love songs of the period.

The Flower of Paradise examines the interplay of Marian devotional and secular poetics within polyphonic music from ca. 1200 to ca. 1500. Through case studies of works that demonstrate a specific symbolic resonance between Marian devotion and secular song, the book illustrates the distinctive ethos of this period in European culture. Rothenberg makes use of an impressive command of liturgical and religious studies, literature and poetry, and art history to craft a study with wide application across disciplinary boundaries. With its broad scope and unique, incisive analysis, this book will open up new ways of thinking about the history and development of secular and sacred music and the Marian tradition for scholars, students, and anyone with an interest in medieval and Renaissance religious culture.

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About the Author:

David J. Rothenberg is Associate Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University and the 2007 recipient of the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society.


"Musicologists will benefit greatly from the wealth of information provided by the book on medieval liturgy, and its copious bibliography and footnotes make it a valuable reference source for all medieval scholars." --Catholic Historical Review

"This book is required reading for anyone interested in Marian polyphony from the twelfth through sixteenth centuries. Rothenberg's discussion is rich in its interdisciplinarity, relating the Marian texts to trecento poetry and Renaissance paintings of Mary inspired by popular motets." --Anna Maria Busse Berger, Professor of Music, University of California, Davis

"In The Flower of Paradise David Rothenberg explores - with authority and elegance - the worlds of the Marian motet, from its birth in Paris, its spread throughout Europe and its displacement in the sixteenth century. In telling this compelling story he displays rare skills, sensitivity, as well as historical acuity. All those interested in medieval culture have a treat in store." --Professor Miri Rubin, School of History, Queen Mary University of London

"The symbolic world of medieval and Renaissance music emerges into brilliant light, thanks to Rothenberg's deft and accessible commentaries. Essential reading for anyone interested in early music." --Patrick Macey, Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music

"Rothenberg's excellent and accessible treatment of the artistic and musical culture of the Later Middle Ages will make The Flower of Paradise a welcome addition to any liberal arts library."--Catholic Library World

"Carefully written in language that is occasionally as lush and Marian as the compositions discussed on its pages, The Flower of Paradise brings together a rich array of materials and will serve as stimulating food for thought." --Early Music America

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