Susan Boynton, lecturer

Event time: 
Monday, February 2, 2009 - 11:30am
Event description: 

Silent Music

The Study of the Old Hispanic Liturgy in 18th-Century Spain

Part of the 2008-2009 Liturgy Symposium Series

Institute of Sacred Music Great Hall, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven

Refreshments for mind, body, and spirit will be served. Free and open to the public.


      In 1749, the Jesuit Andrés Marcos Burriel was appointed to direct the royal commission on the archives of Spain, with which the government sought to obtain documents supporting royal claims to jurisdiction over ecclesiastical property for negotiations with the Vatican regarding control over benefices. However, Burriel’s conception of his mandate soon expanded to include all the domains encompassed by a broad humanist vision. At the center of this ambitious project of cultural nationalism was the medieval chant and liturgy of the Iberian peninsula, a legacy Burriel saw as crucial to Spain’s prestige and identity.

      Burriel began in the archive and library of Toledo Cathedral, where he worked from late 1750 to early 1756. After an initial survey of the archival documents, Burriel and his assistants, who included the calligrapher and paleographer Francisco Xavier de Santiago and Palomares, analyzed, copied, and transcribed medieval liturgical books, along with manuscripts of the Bible, patristics, and canon law. For Burriel and Palomares, reproducing the appearance of liturgical manuscripts, including the silent music of the neumes in the Old Hispanic books, was a way of understanding the past and also of projecting eighteenth-century ideas on to the Middle Ages.

Susan Boynton is Associate Professor of Historical Musicology at Columbia University, has published on medieval liturgy, chant, monasticism, liturgical drama, female singers, and troubadour song. She is the author of Shaping a Monastic Identity: Liturgy and History at the Imperial Abbey of Farfa, 1000-1125 (Cornell University Press, 2006), which won the Lewis Lockwood Award of the American Musicological Society. She has coedited Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth with Roe-Min Kok (Wesleyan University Press, 2006); From Dead of Night to End of Day: The Medieval Customs of Cluny with Isabelle Cochelin (Brepols, 2005); and Young Choristers, 650-1700 with Eric Rice (Boydell and Brewer, 2008). Her current book in progress, Silent Music: Echoes of Medieval Ritual and the Construction of History focuses on the study of Iberian liturgical manuscripts in eighteenth-century Spain.