Title

Musical Nuns of Sixteenth & Seventeenth Century Italy – Who Actually Made their Rules?

Lead Author Major

Instrumental Music Education

Lead Author Status

Sophomore

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Sarah Clemmens Waltz

Faculty Mentor Department

Music History

Abstract/Artist Statement

In seeking to determine what the obstacles have been to women composers, I was led to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which more women composers emerged than in any previous period in Western history. Specifically, women during this time found some remarkable opportunities to learn about music and composition, as nuns in the cloistered communities found in Italy.

By assessing both the work of Craig Monson and Robert Kendrick, who have focused on the musical nuns in Bologna and Milan respectively, this presentation will delineate the parallel circumstances between the convents in these two cities, and evaluate the ways in which women found avenues to performance and composition in many cloistered communities. Even though these spaces seem to have a reputation for providing “safe spaces” for women to pursue an intellectual life, the evidence concerning music points to an intriguing tendency for rebellion on the part of the nuns and their supporters, as they sought to bend or avoid rules in favor of their music-making. The rule breaking was not limited to Bologna and Milan, as illustrated by the compositions of a nun from Novara, whose collection makes her the most prolific woman composer of the seventeenth century. Informed by standard texts on women’s historical involvement in music, this presentation provides a deeper understanding of how Italian convents contributed to women’s entrance into the field of composition, and perhaps points to the barriers which have inhibited the ability of women to enter the music field at large.

Location

Yosemite Learning Lab, William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center

Start Date

30-4-2022 11:20 AM

End Date

30-4-2022 11:39 AM

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Apr 30th, 11:20 AM Apr 30th, 11:39 AM

Musical Nuns of Sixteenth & Seventeenth Century Italy – Who Actually Made their Rules?

Yosemite Learning Lab, William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center

In seeking to determine what the obstacles have been to women composers, I was led to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which more women composers emerged than in any previous period in Western history. Specifically, women during this time found some remarkable opportunities to learn about music and composition, as nuns in the cloistered communities found in Italy.

By assessing both the work of Craig Monson and Robert Kendrick, who have focused on the musical nuns in Bologna and Milan respectively, this presentation will delineate the parallel circumstances between the convents in these two cities, and evaluate the ways in which women found avenues to performance and composition in many cloistered communities. Even though these spaces seem to have a reputation for providing “safe spaces” for women to pursue an intellectual life, the evidence concerning music points to an intriguing tendency for rebellion on the part of the nuns and their supporters, as they sought to bend or avoid rules in favor of their music-making. The rule breaking was not limited to Bologna and Milan, as illustrated by the compositions of a nun from Novara, whose collection makes her the most prolific woman composer of the seventeenth century. Informed by standard texts on women’s historical involvement in music, this presentation provides a deeper understanding of how Italian convents contributed to women’s entrance into the field of composition, and perhaps points to the barriers which have inhibited the ability of women to enter the music field at large.