Image, Imitation, Imagination: Woodcut Illustrations in Adriano Banchieri’s Music Books


Paul Schleuse, associate professor of musicology, will present “Image, Imitation, Imagination: Woodcut Illustrations in Adriano Banchieri’s Music Books” at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in LN-1106, IASH Conference Room.

Illustrations in prints of renaissance music are extremely rare, beyond generic elements like initial letters, decorative borders on title pages and printer’s marks. When they do appear they can tell us much about a book’s function: as unusual and expensive additions they could not have been used haphazardly; as images not visible to a separate audience they strongly suggest that the music was intended for the enjoyment of the singers themselves. A handful of Venetian prints from the years around 1600 use images of theatrical performances in precisely this wayI will show that most of Banchieri’s images were recycled from a set of at least 31 generic theatrical woodcuts that first appeared in prints of Venetian comedies in 1591 and 1592. These illustrations will shed new light on Banchieri’s purpose in repeatedly re-inventing his theatrically themed canzonettas on the recreational function of these books and on his shifting views of performance practice for these works at a time that also saw the emergence of opera.