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
Readership: Students and scholars of Monteverdi (especially the Vespers); performers; musicologists; choral directors; early music specialists; music historians; liturgical historians.
Jeffrey Kurtzman, Professor of Music, Washington University in St Louis
"... Oxford University Press has produced a book both handsome and well presented ... This monumental volume appears likely to serve for a long time for many purposes: as an invaluable quarry for information on Italian sacred music composed for the office of Vespers in the period c.1580-1625; as a miscellaneous compendium of data concerning the realization in performance of this and much other sacred music of the period; and as a skilful analysis of the constituent movements of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610." - Music & Letters
"... concludes with useful appendices, a comprehensive discography, and magnificent bibliographies,
including musical sources and theoretical writings of the period." - Music & Letters
"Kurzmann's expertise and encyclopedic knowledge of seventeenth-century sacred music make the book indispensable reading for any performer or scholar of seventeenth-century music as well as for any conductor, producer, or performer of the Vespers. The author's experienced analysis of this complex and confusing period is especially valuable ... excellent and thorough scholarship gives this book an honored place in any music library" - Sixteenth Century Journal