An answer to Peter Allsop1. Ferrante Franchi's Territorio di Fusignano
0.1 In "Corelli Defended,"1 Peter Allsop takes issue with my review of his Arcangelo Corelli: New Orpheus of Our Times,2 on several points. Along with some straightforward matters of fact, these concern the "problems" of late-Seicento sonata genres, style, and function, and the relationship between seventeenth-century modal theory and Corelli's tonal style. Both of these fascinating topics merit attention in any forum, and I am happy to debate them here with Allsop.3 Allsop refers to it on page 16 of his book:
1.2 I am equally puzzled by his position on a larger question that concerns Franchi's Territorio, because that particular source contradicts him. One of the claims made by Allsop in his book is for a revised view of Corelli's family circumstances. Since the early eighteenth century historians have passed along as accepted wisdom the notion that Corelli came from a wealthy family. On the basis of a document located in the Biblioteca Communale in Bologna, Allsop suggests the contrary, that "Corelli's childhood may not have guaranteed him the life of ease and comfort on the family estates which tradition has ascribed to him"5 because this source describes Corelli as "born humbly but of noble talent" (nacque umilme ma di nobile ingegno).6 The document is undated, but serves as the source for a later entry made by Olivo Penna in his 1736 history of the Accademia Filarmonica, the Cronologia, o sia Istoria Generale di questa Accademia....7 Penna drew heavily on the earlier version, but either changed or miscopied the earlier quoted phrase to read "born nobly but of noble talent."
1.3 The earlier version makes better sense, and Allsop deems it a more reliable account of Corelli's origins. Indeed, were our information limited to the undated manuscript and Penna's later alteration of it, I would be convinced by Allsop's conclusions. But our information is not so limited. There is the Ferrante's 1670 census, and previous scholars have noted its importance. In 1980 Adriano Cavicchi cited it as testimony that Corelli came from money--that is, Penna's Cronologia seems to have been closer to the mark after all.8
1.4 As I pointed out in my review, the issue is hardly resolved; we simply do not have enough information. I fault Allsop, not for coming to any wrong conclusion, but rather for relying too heavily on his one discovered source and for discounting other evidence that contradicts it. Moreover, there are still further documents that bear on this issue that Allsop never cites. For instance, Carlo Vitali mentions documentary evidence that bears directly on Corelli's background in a study of the manuscript dissemination of the composer's Op. 3.9 In the context of Corelli's connections with the Congregazione Filippina di Bologna, Vitali refers to archival documents that record rents paid by members of the Corelli family between 1603 and 1652. These were paid to the Filippini for properties owned by the Congregazione in the municipality of Fusignano. This is directly relevant to Allsop's argument, but he fails to mention it even though Vitali's article appears in his bibliography.
1.5 Contrary to Allsop's assertion that "Barnett, it seems, would prefer to base his judgments on a non-existent census and the later corruptions of these Philharmonic manuscripts," I show no such preference; I simply remain unconvinced by Allsop's insufficiently supported argument.10 To the contrary, we do disagree, and our divergent views stem from a fundamental and misleading conflation of genre and function on Allsop's part. To begin, Allsop correctly notes that the designation da chiesa never appears in Corelli's music:
2.2 This, however, is an issue of function that does not impinge on the issue of genre distinctions, and it is here that Allsop fails to recognize the distinction between music destined for the church and music suitable for the church. The former concerns function, and we know from composers' prefaces and dedications that both genres of sonata served a variety functions. The latter concerns style and happens to be a fundamental criterion by which sonata composers understood distinct genres of instrumental music. The origins of that understanding may be found, not among eighteenth-century northern Europeans, but in the seventeenth-century Italian theorists who spoke unequivocally of music in terms of da chiesa, da camera, and da teatro venues: Marco Scacchi, Breve discorso sopra la musica moderna (1649), and Angelo Berardi, Ragionamenti musicali (1681) and Miscellanea musicale (1689).13
2.3 For both theorists and composers of the Seicento, appropriateness of musical style to these respective venues sets forth a stylistic framework that roughly defines the genre. One of the most fascinating aspects of late-Seicento instrumental music, including Corelli's, is the manner in which composers used these genre categories as a point of departure and then played with convention by subtly mingling styles. This, however, is not to question the applicability of the genres themselves or to argue, as Allsop does, that a clear distinction between the genres did not exist before it was imposed from outside Italy. Italian composers had already recognized this distinction as applicable to their music, and this is evidenced by Benedetto Vinaccesi's preface to his Sfere Armoniche overo Sonate da Chiesa..., Op. 2 (1692):
3.2 His arguments based on it are another matter. Here he cites the existence of sonatas designated da camera that do not contain dances as evidence of an inconsistency on the part of sonata composers:
3.3 Allsop, however, takes Brossard's descriptions of the sonata genres and uses them to correct Veracini, who, not having included dances in his Op. 3 (1696) sonatas, has written pieces that Allsop thinks better to call free sonatas rather than sonatas da camera. Allsop then places Veracini's Op. 3 and others like it (including Veracini's Op. 2) within a distinct sub-genre of "free sonata" that is lighter in style, but otherwise linked stylistically in Allsop's mind with Corelli's Opp. 1 and 3. All of this is to illustrate that some late-Seicento sonatas which "comply with the proposed ‘church plan,'" were nonetheless not intended for the church. By doing this Allsop is only creating a problem and then laboring to solve it: Veracini's sonatas do not comply with any "church plan" precisely because of their style; and the fact that they were not intended for church is given by Veracini's titlesonate da camera.
3.4 Three examples from Veracini's Opp. 2 and 3 illustrate this point concerning da camera style. Example 1 contains an excerpt from the second movement of Veracini's, Op. 3, Nº 9. Looking at this vivace, which occurs in that position within the piece where a church sonata would usually include a fugue, we see no imitation, but rather a modest texture of treble (violino) and bass (cimbalo and violone or arcileuto). This is unambitious, non-fugal music, and Veracini deems it right for the chamber, as indicated by the title of the print: Sonate da Camera a due. Examples 2 and 3 show excerpts from Veracini's Sonate da Camera a Violino solo, Op. 2. He specifies slightly different instrumentation for this earlier print (violino solo accompanied by cimbalo or violone), but the music, again da camera, is stylistically akin to his Op. 3. The second movement from the Sonata seconda (example 2) illustrates a simple, binary-form movement in which violin and bass trade motives. Example 3, the second movement from the Sonata quarta, contains music dominated by the violin, which plays in moto perpertuo against a discreet accompaniment. The violin part is showy, but the composition, like the previous examples, is otherwise unassuming music. In the case of his Op. 2, Veracini even mentions his desire to provide music for principianti (beginners) as a motivation for composing it.19 This is not the stuff of church, and we do not need dance titles to know this.
3.5 In case this point needs further evidence, example 4 from Veracini's Op. 1 sonatas (1692)entitled Sonate a trè and not given a designation of venueshows the style which late-Seicento composers took to be appropriate for the church.20 This last example shows a second movement actually labeled fuga from the Sonata terza. The contrast in style between Veracini's Op. 1 and his Opp. 2 and 3 points up the distinction between music deemed appropriate for church and chamber respectively. Moreover, Veracini's dedication to the Grand Duchess Victoria of Tuscany, which describes the contemplation of the divine as inspired by musical sound, underscores the significance of the more elevated style that typifies his Op. 1 sonatas:
4.2 Three theoriststhree modal theories. Allsop smooths over this problem by creating a single theory out of parts from each of the three: he uses Bononcini's modal categories and Penna and Berardi's cadence patterns (whose respective systems for identifying the mode by means of specific cadence points are not mutually compatible). In short, Allsop makes the fatal assumption that he can cobble together a single theory out of the three authors and then use this late twentieth-century pasticcio with the authority of a seventeenth-century theorist. In doing so, he rides roughshod over the theorists closest to Corelli by employing a contrived theory that he claims is representative of the period.
4.3 His concluding assertion that "Corelli and his contemporaries knew best how to classify their own music, and for that matter how to describe the theoretical basis of their own methods" is untenable: Corelli made no modal-theoretical pronouncements, and his contemporaries made none about him. Allsop instead fabricates a modal system that misrepresents both late-Seicento theory and instrumental practice. An example of such fabrication is Allsop's Table 6.6 Cadences Proper to the Tones (p. 103), whichalthough introduced with undocumented references to Bononcini, Penna, and Berardicorresponds only to the clausulae harmoniche in Berardi's Il perchè musicale (1693). But Berardi's cadences conflict with Penna's. Bononcini, in his own modal duos, follows neither the prescriptions of Berardi nor Penna; nor does he make a listing of cadences for the modes.
4.4 Allsop's arguments thus explicate not late-Seicento theory, but Allsop's own; yet he is so certain of his position that he does not bother to address the evidence, much less the arguments, presented in my review. There I reproduce Bononcini's modal duo in mode 12 to illustrate how Allsop departs from Bononcini in the attribution of that mode to Corelli's Op. 3, Nº 8. I then show how Allsop mis-analyzes Berardi's mode 12 cadences, which further weakens Allsop's modal analysis of Corelli. I conclude by furnishing examples from Adriano Banchieri and Zaccaria Tevoauthor of Il Musico Testore (1706) and Corelli's exact contemporarythat display the very characteristics Allsop cites as mode 12, but which bear the designation of quinto tuono within a system of eight tones that are based on the features of the psalm tones. (My focus on Allsop's putative mode 12 might seem narrowly construed, except that he goes into detail in that one case only.)
4.5 Allsop responds to none of this, and his parting comment on modal theory illustrates only the problems with his perspective on the matter: "As Barnett is bold enough to dismiss the explanations of Corelli's contemporaries and associates it is hardly surprising that he will not accept mine based on them."25 In short, to disagree with Allsop is to disagree with Corelli and company. I actually make no such dismissal as Allsop claims, but I am bold enough to introduce evidence from Corelli's contemporaries and associates that refutes Allsop's theory.
* Gregory Barnett (email@example.com) is Assistant Professor of music history at Rice University. His research interests include Italian instrumental music of the late seventeenth century and the history of music theory during the late Renaissance and Baroque eras. He has published articles in the Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and the Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society.
Notes1. Peter Allsop, "Corelli Defended: A Response to Gregory Barnett," Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music 8 (2002) http://www.sscm-jscm.org/v8/no1/allsop.html.
Cavicchi, "Corelli e il violinismo bolognese," Studi Corelliani,
Atti del Primo Congresso Internazionale, ed. Adriano Cavicchi, Oscar
Mischiati, and Pierluigi Petrobelli (Florence: Olschki, 1972), 33-47,
refers to Franchi's Territorio on p. 35, which is reproduced
as Tav. II on p. 19.
4. In the midst
of my mystification, I had the idea that our differences, mine and Allsop's,
over Franchi's Territorio might be a matter of semantics; that
is, Allsop does not recognize the document to be a census. He describes
it as a detailed plan of Fusignano that names its inhabitants. Map or
topography might therefore be terms more familiar to Allsop. In my review
I refer to it as a census because of the listing of each individual
property in Fusignano along with the family name of the owners.
5. Allsop, Corelli, 16.
6. Quoted in Allsop, Corelli,
7. The title of Olivo Penna's 1736 two-volume,
manuscript history of the Accademia Filarmonica reads: Cronologia
/ o sia Istoria Generale / di questa Accademia / Sua Origine, e Successi
in Essa . . . coll'Indice / Per trovar con facilità qualunque
cosa, che si contiene in essa . . . Fatta con somma diligenza, e fatica
/ da me Olivo Penna / Campionere di detta Accademia l'anno MDCCXXXVI.
A third volume was added to this work, entitled Registro Delle Congregazioni,
/ ed Atti seguiti / Dall'Anno 1737 al 1750....
8. Cavicchi, 35, "da quanto si evince
da una dettagliata topografia del territorio di Fusignano eseguita attorno
al 1670, si può affermare con sicurezza che i possedimenti della
famiglia erano tali da garantirgli una non comune ricchezza...."
9. Carlo Vitali, "L'Opera III di Corelli
nella diffusione manoscritta: apografi sincroni e tardi nelle biblioteche
dell'Emilia-Romagna," Nuovissimi Studi Corelliani, Atti del Terzo
Congresso Internazionale, ed. Sergio Durante and Pierluigi Petrobelli
(Florence: Olschki, 1982), 367-80. See n. 13 on p. 374.
10. As proof of this specific contention,
Allsop quotes a passage that discusses continuo instrumentation and
sonata genres from a 1997 article he wrote, "Sonata da chiesa: a Case
of Mistaken Identity?" Consort, 53/1 (1997): 4-14. (This material
does not appear in the book, as Allsop explains, for reasons of space.)
Allsop's earlier article does note (pp. 10-11) the consistent distinction
of scoring between church and chamber sonatas that I bring up in my
review, but that work on his part seems not to have informed the ideas
set forth in his book at all, as seen by the excerpts I have quoted
here in my answer to him.
11. Allsop, Corelli, 69.
12. Allsop, Corelli,
13. For a discussion of this tradition
of genre classification, which has roots in the Artusi-Monteverdi polemic
and continues through Johann Mattheson's Der vollkommene Capellmeister (1739), see Claude Palisca, "The Genesis of Mattheson's Style Classification,"
New Mattheson Studies, ed. George J. Buelow and Hans Joachim
Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 409-23.
14. Benedetto Vinaccesi, Sfere armoniche overo Sonate da Chiesa à due Violini, con Violoncello, è Parte per l'Organo, Op. 2 (Venice: Sala, 1692). The prefatory note to the dilettante amorevole is found on page 2 of the organ part-book, the only extant music from Vinaccesi's Op. 2. The Italian of the excerpted passage reads: "Venendo alla luce questa mia Terz'Opera sotto il Numero di Seconda, non vorrei, che ne restasse accusato l'Ordine, che venne prevertito [sic] da un supremo Comando; mà bensi condonati i trascorsi de miei Stromenti. Tanto più che facendosi essi sentir nella Chiesa, t'invitano in un Luogo dove più facilmente si perdonano gli errori, e dove l'Animo Virtuoso distende con più agevolezza il manto della sua Prottezione sù quei difetti, che ponno venir scoperti da moderni Aristarchi di questo Genere, nel piccol Capo de quali vi sono Orecchie di Siracusa più grandi d'un Monte." Most of this same passage is quoted in n. 9 of my review.
Two of Vinaccesi's classical references bear explanation. Aristarchus
was a celebrated grammarian of Samothrace, who was also known for his critical
powers. Because of his severe revisions of Homer's poetry, all stern critics
after him were known as Aristarchi. The Ear of Syracuse is a cave
near the Sicilian city whose opening is shaped like a pointed ear. According
to legend the acoustics within the cave are such that every sound, even
the quietest, can be heard with perfect clarity.
15. Allsop, Corelli, 74. The
passage quoted by Allsop is found in Roger North on Music, ed.
John Wilson (London: Novello, 1959), 125. The original essay, The
Musicall Grammarian (1728), was not published. The larger context
of this passage is a description of "the ordinary choire musick in churches"
that Corelli was inspired to imitate. However, North's brief reference
to Corelli's "ecclesiasticall style" does not go into detail, and he
mentions only "some consorts" of the composer. Wilson believed North
to be referring to the alla breve movements in the first and
fifth concerti grossi, Op. 6.
16. Antonio Veracini, Sonate da
Camera a due, Violino, e Violone, ò Arcileuto, col Basso per
il Cimbalo, Op. 3 (Modena: Rosati, 1696). There are three part-books:
violino; violone, ò arcileuto; and cimbalo.
17. Antonio Veracini, Sonate da
Camera a Violino solo, Op. 2 (Modena: Rosati, n.d.). There are two
part-books: [violino]; and cimbalo, o violone.
18. Allsop, Corelli,
19. In the postscript to the reader,
Veracini writes: I pray the courteous and virtuoso professor to accept
the present weaknesses of mine, sent to the presses more out of the
impulse of someone else's desire than the inclination of proper taste,
and, above all, in order to furnish study material for beginners rather
than entertainment for him who is perfected in the art. (Prego il Cortese,
e Virtuoso Professore a compatir le presenti mie debolezze, da me date
alla Stampa più per impulso dell'altrui volontà, che per
inclinatione del proprio genio; e più tosto per dar materia di
studio ai Principianti, che di trattenimento a chi è perfetto
20. Antonio Veracini, Sonate a tre,
due, Violini, e Violone, o Arcileuto col Basso per l'Organo, Op.
1 (Florence: Navesi, 1692). There are four part-books: violino primo;
violino secondo; violoncello (as opposed to the violone o arcileuto
listed on the title page); and organo.
21. The Italian reads: "Che
l'Anima umana, altro non fosse, che una Armonia, fu parere d'Aristosseno
antico Musico, e Filosofo. Questa opinione si verifica nella grand'Anima
di V. A. S. nella quale un mirabile accordamento di tutte le virtù
perfettamente risuona. Quindi è , che ella pasce lo Spirito di
questa nostra Musica, che in Suoni, e Canti passeggieri consiste; ma
è solido il suo diletto, mentre si serve di quella, non per sollecticamento
semplice dell'orecchio, ma per rimetter l'Anima nella contemplazione
della Immortale, e Celeste; e quindi passare alla considerazione della
22. Giovanni Maria Bononcini,
Musico prattico (Bologna: Monti, 1673), 121-23.
23. Lorenzo Penna, Li primi albori
musicali (Bologna: Monti, 1672; 5th ed., 1696), 128-32.
24. Angelo Berardi, Il perchè musicale (Bologna: Monti, 1693), 37-44; and Miscellanea musicale
(Bologna: Monti, 1689), 176-78.
25. This is distortion seemingly born
out by a clause from my "Modal Theory, Church Keys, and the Sonata,"
The Journal of the American Musicological Society 51 (1998):
245-81, 260, taken from its context: I make no such dismissal, and readers
of my work on the theory and practice of late-Seicento instrumental
music will see that Bononcini's insights are central to my thesis. Moreover,
I observe the distinction between observations of musical practice made
by a theorist and the theory promoted by that theorist. Allsop, not
observing subtleties, equates this particular subtlety with outright
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