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This is a thorough-going study of Monteverdi's Vespers, the single most significant and most widely known musical print from before the time of J.S. Bach. The author examines Monteverdi's Vespers from multiple perspectives, combining his own research with all that is known and thought of the Vespers by other scholars. The historical origin as well as the musical and liturgical context of the Vespers are surveyed; similarly the controversial historiography of the Vespers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is scrutinized and evaluated. A series of analytical chapters attempt to clarify Monteverdi's compositional process and the relationship between music and text in the light of recent research on modal and tonal aspects of early seventeenth century music. The final section is devoted to thirteen chapters investigating performance practice issues of the early seventeenth century and their application to the Vespers, including general and specific recommendations for performance where appropriate.
The book concludes with a series of informational appendices, including the psalm cursus for Vespers of all major feasts in the liturgical calendar, texts, and structural outlines for the Vespers compositions based on a cantus firmus, an analytical discography, and bibliographies of seventeenth-century musical and theoretical sources.