Religious music and the construction of the image of royalty: dynastic ceremonies, daily liturgy and private devotions of the 18th century Portuguese monarchs

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Abstract

During the early modern period, religious music played a crucial role in constructing the public image of the absolute monarchy, both as a form of emphasizing the devotion of the sove- reigns and as a means of reaffirming the legitimacy of divine origin that justified the exercise of political power. With different configurations in the various European courts, the so called religious music of state or “apparatus” music constituted a sophisticated tool of symbolic representation
of royalty, thanks to its ability to potentiate the increasingly theatrical character of the liturgical ceremonial and to engage the king himself as an active part of the ritual. In this perspective, the relationship that the successive Portuguese ruling sovereigns established with sacred music during the 18th century will be analyzed not only at the institutional level, through the Royal and Patriar- chal Chapels, but also at the individual level, that is with regard to issues like “taste” and personal devotions. It is also intended to demonstrate that the usual stereotyped vision that attributes an exacerbated religiosity to king João V and to queen Maria I, as opposed to king José’s passion for opera, constitutes, after all, a much more complex and nuanced reality, which gains new dimen- sions when compared to the centrality assumed by other European Royal Chapels in the sonorous
representation of royal power. In relation to each of the monarchs, the role of religious music in dinastic ceremony and daily liturgy, as well as in personal devotions, will be addressed taking into account features such as spaces; the intervention of the members of the royal family in the orga- nization of musical practice (directly or through intermediaries); the musicians; the repertoires; and the performance practices. This makes possible a comparative study that involves not only the different personalities and the political, religious and cultural context of each reign, but also the aesthetic changes that take place in the musical language over time. Given the broad scope of the subject, the study will be centered in a selection of emblematic ceremonies, from the liturgical calendar and the “days of Gala” at court, and will provide a representative set of musical examples (Mass, Motetes, Te Deum, Responsories, Lamentations, Psalms, etc.) by Portuguese and foreign composers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventInternational Conference Religion and Magnificence – music and ceremonies at the European courts in 17th and 18th centuries - Palácio Nacional de Queluz
Duration: 18 Sep 202020 Sep 2020

Conference

ConferenceInternational Conference Religion and Magnificence – music and ceremonies at the European courts in 17th and 18th centuries
Period18/09/2020/09/20

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