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Abstract

This dissertation explores the role of music and visual art in commemorative events in Europe throughout the seventeenth century. Following the lead of medievalists, I look beyond disciplinary boundaries and consider the full range of media including written documents, visual art, objects, and performed (thus ephemeral) music that were used for commemoration. This multi-confessional and -regional project, set in Saxony, Bohemia, and the Low Countries, elucidates how acoustic and visual carriers of memory contributed to institutional or private forms of commemoration. For various religious and political events, such as the centenary of the Reformation (1617) or the Peace of Münster (1648), the rulers of these states consciously commissioned and thus produced media of memory in top-down fashion. Burghers or religious groups sought out their own media to memorialize these events, creating bottom-up media of memory. My portrayal and reconstructions of these commemorative events make clear that their specific procedures and the accompanying music and media had the ability to prompt people to remember a past, making a present fathomable and a future imaginable. Put differently, commemorative media had an impact on cultural memory; sometimes in unexpected ways, they situated individuals and communities in their present, shaped religious identities, political allegiances, and the historical narrative. I contend that the media of memory were interconnected and referred to each other, creating intermediality that influenced different senses. Furthermore, music held a special place; it speaks to the auditory sense that cannot be turned off, and can function as a bridge between communicative and cultural memory. The case studies in this dissertation illuminate what commemoration looked and sounded like in early modern Europe, and how it has contributed to historical understanding up to the present day.

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