During the great upheavals in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europe was divided over ideas about religion, science, education, economy, and government. The Church fought the Reformation, scholars formed into competing universities, and trade became increasingly internationalized. Musicians and musicologists of the time could not ignore the contending factions, and the general ferment of ideas ran parallel to thinking about music, as well as strongly affecting its practical composition and performance. As a result, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries present a special opportunity to study the relationship between music and ideas.
Music and Ideas in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries shows Claude V. Palisca--one of the preeminent musicologists of our time--at the height of his powers, discussing the relationships between musical style and intellectual history, the influence of humanism on the revival of music theory, the competing notions of style, and the intermingled effects of rhetoric, poetics, religion, and science. Palisca's discussions demonstrate how this period's musical thought was penetrated by many aspects of culture, including religious reform, secularization, the emergence of vernacular literature, documentary historiography, the rise and decline of neo-Platonism, Aristotelian poetics, the scientific movement, the revival of rhetoric, and openness to emotional experience. This summation of Palisca's life work was nearly finished in 2001, when Palisca died. It was brought to completion by Thomas J. Mathiesen.