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					                                Conference

        Sing aloud harmonious spheres:
Music, philosophy, and the order of the universe
              in the Renaissance




        Paolo Veronese, Villa Barbaro, Bacchus, Vertumnus and Saturn (detail)




                            12-15 May 2011

 Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, University of Warwick,
                     Venice
                                  organized by:

           Jacomien Prins (Oxford University)
          Maude Vanhaelen (Warwick University)
Sing aloud harmonious spheres: Music, philosophy, and the order of
the cosmos in the Renaissance
Thursday 12 May until Sunday 15 May 2011
Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, University of Warwick, Venice

Conference Theme
The conference “Sing aloud harmonious spheres” seeks to bring together scholars and
musici working on different aspects related to the reception of the concept of the
harmony of the spheres in the Renaissance. Within this tradition, which took as a point
of departure the Pythagorean belief that numbers and harmonic proportions are the basic
principles of the cosmos, it was current practice to bring theology, philosophy,
cosmology, and music theory together in an all-embracing view of the cosmos as a
harmonic creation, and of music as an art that could reflect this cosmic harmony. During
the Renaissance nearly all classical and medieval authorities became available in print.
As a result, theories of cosmic harmony, which had already been highly sophisticated in
Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, became increasingly more complex.
  These theories have become the subject of intense scholarly interest in recent years.
This is clear, for example, from the many studies dedicated to Renaissance
commentaries on Plato’s Timaeus, a dialogue which itself seeks to integrate philosophy,
religion, and ideas about harmony. Research into the re-conceptualisation of the world
from the sixteenth century onwards has so far focused on the question whether, and to
what extent, Renaissance ideas on cosmic harmony and music theory prefigured the so-
called Copernican revolution or were merely a continuation of traditional modes of
thought. The purpose of the conference is to break down the barriers of such restrictive
historiographical narratives, and to focus on the various ways in which Renaissance
scholars themselves reconsidered the relationship between cosmos, man and music.
  The conference is meant to be a multidisciplinary dialogue on the tradition of the
harmony of the spheres in the Renaissance, as studied in the light of these new research
trends. It will first address methodological issues by bringing together scholars from
various disciplines and theoretical backgrounds. More specifically, it will be debating
the question whether traditional philological and hermeneutical approaches still
constitute the most successful paths to explore the theme of musical harmony as a
whole. It will also seek to expand the spatial boundaries of the theme by exploring
contexts beyond Renaissance Italy. The conference will be divided in two parts: the first
will concentrate on the way in which Renaissance thinkers anchored their basic beliefs
in music theory, and the second panel focuses on the way in which musicians,
composers and theoreticians used concepts from cosmology and philosophy of nature to
confer meaning to music. Papers will explore hitherto unstudied aspects of the
relationship between philosophy, cosmology and music theory, or bring in new
perspectives on established themes in the field.

Conference Programme

THURSDAY 12 MAY AFTERNOON, 2-6.30 pm
A. ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL ROOTS OF THE RENAISSANCE CONCEPT OF
COSMIC HARMONY 2-3pm
1. Opening speech Jacomien Prins and Maude Vanhaelen
2. Dr. Francesco Pelosi (Researcher, Scuola Normale di Pisa), “Eight singing sirens:
heavenly harmonies in Plato and the Neoplatonists.”
3-4pm
IDEAS ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY IN THE 15TH CENTURY (WESTERN
TRADITIONS)
3. Dr. Renata Pieragostini (Research Fellow, Oxford University/St. Anne’s College),
“Armonia mundana and poetic number in Coluccio Salutati’s defense of poetry.”
4. Prof. Stephaney Toussaint (Professor of the History of Ideas, Centre d’Etudes
Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR), Tours), “Cosmic harmony and the dance of the
stars in Marsilio Ficino’s thought.”
4pm COFFEE BREAK
4.30pm-5.30pm
5. Dr. Maude Vanhaelen (Lecturer in Classics and Italian, University of Warwick;
proposed length of stay: 2 nights), “Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), harmony and
demons.”
6. Prof. Joscelyn Godwin (Professor of Musicology, Colgate University, US), “Musical
Semicircles in the Architecture of Mauro Codussi.”
5.30-6.30pm
B. IDEAS ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY IN THE 15TH CENTURY
(NONWESTERN
TRADITIONS)
7. Prof. Charles Burnett (Professor of the History of Islamic Influences in Europe,
Warburg Institute, London), “Arabic elements in Western theories about cosmic
harmony.”
8. Prof. Amnon Shiloah (Professor of Musicology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem),
“Harmony of the spheres and angelic song: The influence of Jewish and Muslim sources
on the Renaissance concept of cosmic harmony.”
FRIDAY 13 MAY MORNING, 9.30-12.30 AM
9.30-11am
C. IDEAS ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY IN THE 16TH CENTURY (PHILOSOPHY,
THEOLOGY, MEDICINE, AND ARCHITECTURE)
9. Dr. Leen Spruit (Lecturer in Philosophy and Classics, Università La Sapienza,
Rome), “Francesco Giorgi (1466- 1540) on harmonic creation and Catholic censorship
of his view.”
10. Dr. Jacomien Prins (Research Fellow, Oxford University/Wolfson College),
“Francesco Patrizi and the musical origin of language.”
11. Prof. Thomas Leinkauf (Professor of Philosophy, University of Münster), “The
changing relationship between music and the movement of the soul in the Renaissance”.
COFFEE BREAK 11am
11.30-12.30
12. Dr. Mischa von Perger (Independent Scholar, Classics), “The reception of
Neoplatonic medical ideas in Paracelsus.”
13. Dr. Laura Moretti (Lecturer in Art History, University of St Andrews), “Fra
Francesco Giorgi and the Church of San Francesco della Vigna.”

FRIDAY 13 MAY AFTERNOON, 2-5.30pm
2-3.30pm
C. IDEAS ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY IN THE 16TH CENTURY (MUSIC
THEORY)
14. Prof. Donatella Restani (Professor of Musicology, University of Bologna), Musica
mundana in the first printed editions of Macrobius’ Commentary on Cicero’s Dream of
Scipio and their reception in Renaissance musical treatises.”
15. Prof. Brigitte van Wymeersch (Professor of Musicology, University of Louvain),
“The influence of Neoplatonic music-theoretical thought on Vincenzo Galilei and
Gioseffo Zarlino.”
16. Dr. Natacha Fabbri (Post-Doc, Fondazione Internazionale Balzan, Firenze),
“Mersenne’s thought on cosmic harmony and the nature of sound”.
3.30-4pm
C. IDEAS ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY IN THE 16TH CENTURY (MUSICAL
PRACTICE)
17. Francesco Cera (Harpsichordist and Conductor, Rome), “Earthly echoes of cosmic
harmony in the Concerti delle Dame in Renaissance Ferrara.”
COFFEE BREAK 4pm
4.30-5.30pm
CONCERT
8.00 pm
CONFERENCE DINNER

SATURDAY 14 MAY MORNING, 9-30-12.30
9.30-11am
D. THE DESTRUCTION OF THEORIES ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY:
RENAISSANCE MUSIC THEORY AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION
18. Dr. Laurence Wuidar (Research Fellow, Université Libre de Bruxelles), “Music and
astrology: from music of the spheres (16th century) to astrological music (17th
century)”.
19. Prof. Floris Cohen (Professor of the History of Science, Utrecht), “Music as science
and as art: the destruction of cosmic harmony.”
20. Prof. Paolo Gozza (Professor of Musicology, University of Bologna), “The
relationship between the Scientific Revolution and the science of music revisited.”
COFFEE BREAK, 11am
11.30-12.30pm
E. THE RECEPTION OF RENAISSANCE IDEAS ABOUT COSMIC HARMONY IN
DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD
21. Dr. Tom Dixon (Lecturer in History, University of Manchester), “The Silence of the
Spheres?: Universal Music in seventeenth century England.”
22. Dr. Concetta Pennutto (Research Fellow, Université François-Rabelais/Centre
d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours), “Music, medicine and philosophy in
André Taureau’s Orphic Lyre.”
SATURDAY AFTERNOON, 2-3pm
23. Dr. Linda Baez Rubi (Lecturer in History and Literature, University of Karlruhe/
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), “The reception of Athanasius Kircher’s
theory of world harmony in seventeenth century New Spain.”
24. Prof. David Bryant (Professor history of music, Università Ca’Foscari), “Cosmic
harmony as part of official Venetian State propaganda and its reception in music and
musical life.”
3.30-4.30 pm
Excursion I “Traces of cosmic harmony in Renaissance Venice.”

SUNDAY 15 MAY MORNING, 9-30-12.30 (optional)
Excursion II, “Harmony of the spheres in Palazzo Barbaro/Villa Maser”
Practical information

Conference site: Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, Venice
The Palazzo Pesaro Papafava of Warwick University is a Venetian Renaissance palace
overlooking the Canale della Misericordia with a land entrance from the Calle de la
Rachetta in Cannaregio. As Warwick research centre it offers beautiful settings for
academic conferences. You will find a map, showing the location of the Palazzo Pesaro
Papafava, together with the necessary practical information, on the website:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/arthistory/venicehomepage/pesaropapafava/

Conference fee for auditors
The conference fee for auditors (£60/€70) will cover registration and lunches. Students
of Ca’Foscari and other universities, institutes or colleges in Venice will get a discount
of 50% (£30/€35).
For further information: see the registration form for auditors on this website (fill in
website address).

Activities
Two excursions are included in the programme: (1) on Saturday the 14th of May a visit
to the San Francesco della Vigna Church in Venezia, famous for its harmonic design;
(2) on Sunday the 15th of May a visit to the Palazza Barbaro (Villa Maser), famous for
its harmonic architecture as well as its paintings concerning the harmony of the spheres.

Organization
This conference is organised jointly by the Faculties of Philosophy and Musicology of
Oxford University and the Centre of Renaissance Studies of Warwick University.

Organizers
Jacomien Prins
Oxford University / Wolfson College
Linton Road
Oxford OX2 6UD - UK
t.: (home) +44 1865 274248 / (mobile) +44 (0)7551902125
e: jacomien.prins@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Maude Vanhaelen
Departments of Classics and Italian
University of Warwick
CV4 7AL Coventry - UK
t. +44 24761 50638 (EXT. 50638)
e: M.Vanhaelen@warwick.ac.uk

				
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