Retrieving the Sounds of the Old Society: For a History of Historiography on Jesuits and Music
(6,864 words)

Daniele V. Filippi

Last modified: December 2016


In gratam memoriam T. Frank Kennedy, S.J.

Compared with other established fields in Jesuit studies, research on Jesuits and music is still young and relatively underdeveloped.1 This is due partly to objective reasons (for instance, the loss of many musical sources) and partly to the Society’s own lack of specific interest in the topic. Moreover, most of the music produced by and for the Society in response to the specific needs of its ministries did not necessarily belong to the genres, styles, and categories favored by traditional musicological scholarship.

The broad repertoire of Jesuit-related music comprises the following: music for the liturgy (Mass and the Divine Office) and for paraliturgical services (such as processions, confraternity gatherings, and spiritual exercises during popular missions); songs for catechesis and for devout entertainment, in numerous European and extra-European languages; music for academic rituals and for dramatic productions (from recited dramas with musical intermezzi to fully sung oratorios and operas). Major composers worked at or provided music for one or another Jesuit institution: among them are Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525/26–94), Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548–1611), Giovanni Francesco Anerio (c.1569–1630), Giacomo Carissimi (1605–74), Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704), Ottavio Pitoni (1657–1753), André Campra (1660–1744), and Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700/1–75), to name but a few.2

Some members of the Society became themselves distinguished musicians, composers, and instrument makers. Notable composers are Christophorus Clavius (c.1538–1612), Charles d’Ambleville (d.1637), Anton Sepp (1655–1733), Domenico Zipoli (1688–1726), and Martin Schmid (1694–1772); it is clearly no coincidence that many Jesuit composers were missionaries, as music played a major role in the missionary strategies of the Society. Other Jesuits wrote song texts (Michel Coyssard [1547–1623]; Friedrich von Spee [1591–1635]), or libretti for oratorios and operas (Orazio Grassi [1583–1654]). Eminent members of the Society received dedications of musical works: General Claudio Acquaviva (1543–1615), for instance, was the dedicatee of imperial chapel master Philippe de Monte’s (1521–1603) first book of spiritual madrigals (1581) and of Anerio’s second book of motets (1611).

Furthermore, Jesuits have been involved in scholarly research in music, including: German composer, teacher, and music theorist Wolfgang Schonsleder (1570–1651); Rome-based polymath and music theorist Athanasius Kircher (1602–80); pioneer scholar of Chinese music Jean Joseph-Marie Amiot (1718–93); Spanish theorist Antonio Eximeno (1729–1808), and opera historian Esteban de Arteaga (1747–99; he, however, left the Society in 1769). Even though the present discussion focuses on the pre-suppression Society, it is worth mentioning here some Jesuit scholars from the restoration up to the present: chant scholar and paleographer Louis Lambillotte (1797–1855); hymnologists Guido Maria Dreves (1854–1909) and Klemens Blume (1862–1932), editors of the invaluable Analecta hymnica Medii Aevi;3 musicologists Jos Smits van Waesberghe (1901–86), Clement G. McNaspy (1915–95), Jóse López-Calo (b.1922), Thomas D. Culley (1928–2009), and T. Frank Kennedy (1948–2016).4

The relevant information on the wide variety of musical activities connected with the Society’s ministries is scattered among documents mostly of non-musical character (e.g., in missionary literature, in letters, and in treatises on such disparate topics as catechesis, ethnography, or canon law); correspondingly, it is reported and discussed in modern studies which deal with a diverse range of topics and are dispersed in a surprising variety of publishing venues (from missiology journals to books on early modern theater or rhetoric). The outline delineated in the present essay is based primarily on the core literature and cannot aim at providing complete bibliographic information on specific topics.


From 1934 to c.2010

The groundwork for a modern and comprehensive historiographical understanding of Jesuits and music was laid by German musicologists. Max Wittwer, in a dissertation published in 1934, explored the musical practice of the Society, especially in  German-speaking areas.5 In his pioneering but remarkably systematic treatment, Wittwer was able to discuss, or at least to mention concisely, most of the topics that subsequent scholarship would expand upon, from the consideration of music in the foundational documents of the Society to its role in the life of colleges and seminaries, in liturgical and paraliturgical gatherings, and in theatrical plays. The traumatic war-time events which characterized the decade after the publication probably limited the  scholarly reception of Wittwer’s book. It was only in 1958 that Heinrich Hüschen’s article on Jesuits  in the influential music encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart provided the first wide-ranging treatment of the topic within a major musicological reference work.6 Following in the footsteps of Wittwer, Hüschen included a discussion of the early regulations regarding music in the Society and highlighted two aspects in particular: the production of hymns and songs in vernacular languages and the role of music in school dramas.7

A more intensive and continuous scholarly engagement with the topic occurred from the early 1970s, starting with Culley’s book on the German College in Rome8 and the same Culley and his mentor McNaspy’s seminal article “Music and the Early Jesuits (1540–1565),” published in AHSI.9 Culley’s monograph, based on a substantial archival campaign, called attention to at least three important aspects: the role of music in the life of the German College, a model institution for Jesuit education; the prominence of the college in the musical life of late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Rome; and its far-reaching musical influence, which extended to German-speaking areas, notably through the alumni. In the article, the two Jesuit musicologists embraced a wide perspective and, building upon the works of Wittwer and Hüschen, challenged deep-rooted clichés about the supposedly marginal role of music in the early life of the Society. They proposed to re-evaluate the official documents (and their notoriously restrictive policies) in the light of more diverse contemporary evidence; they covered a broad range of genres, from catechetical songs to instrumental music; and they expanded the geographical and cultural scope of their survey to prominently include global missions.

Building, in turn, upon Culley’s and McNaspy’s work, other dissertations and journal articles, mostly by North-American scholars, appeared in the 1970s and 1980s focusing either on Jesuit Roman institutions or on various wide-ranging issues. To the first category belong Culley’s own study of the Venerable English College,10 Graham Dixon’s article on music at the Gesù,11 and T. Frank Kennedy’s study of the Roman Seminary.12 To the second belong the essay on song, dance, and music in the early mission to India written by Josef Wicki (an authority on Eastern missions and editor of Documenta Indica),13 Alfred E. Lemmon’s articles on Jesuits and music in Mexico and in the “New Kingdom of Granada,”14 and Kennedy’s doctoral dissertation “Jesuits and Music: The European Tradition, 1547–1622.”15 The literature on Jesuits and music was undoubtedly growing, but it made its way into major musicological publications only very gradually. With few exceptions, such as Kennedy’s re-consideration of music in the Society’s early years published in the Italian musicological journal Studi musicali,16 works on our topic appeared in AHSI and other Jesuit-related publications, or in interdisciplinary conference proceedings. Only from the 2000s does it become less uncommon to see articles on Jesuits and music published in such top-tier musicological journals as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Early Music History, or the Dutch Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis.

As already noted by John W. O’Malley for the writing of Jesuit history tout court,17 the period from c.1990 saw also the progressive involvement of a wider and more diverse community of scholars. A combination of factors helped make the topic of Jesuit music more attractive to researchers not belonging to and not exclusively (or mainly) interested in the Society. On the one hand, there were interdisciplinary developments, notably the establishment or consolidation of new historiographical paradigms (such as Catholic Reform, Sozialdisziplinierung, confessionalization, and early modern Catholicism), which gradually freed the Jesuit matter from the reductive framework of the “Counter-Reformation” and opened up new paths for research; the rise of cultural history from the 1980s; and, more specifically, the gradual growth of Jesuit studies, triggered by O’Malley’s seminal The First Jesuits of 1993.18 On the other hand, developments in musicology played a significant role: among them, a new or renewed interest in the cultural study of music and in a broader understanding of the musical past (further expanding the “holistic” nature of the discipline),19 and the growing attention to repertoires that used to be outside the canon of “classical music,” or marginal to one of its sub-canons.

The 1990s and 2000s thus saw a continuation of the already established research paths—for instance, investigations of musical chapels in Jesuit institutions, in Rome and elsewhere, sometimes focusing on genres such as the motet or the litanies, or on an individual composer20—as well as a series of new developments fostered by interdisciplinary contributions. All-embracing symposia such as those promoted by the Jesuit Institute at Boston College in 1997 and 2002 (The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, i and ii), and the ensuing publications, were clearly instrumental for establishing interdisciplinary exchange.21

Italian musicologist Giancarlo Rostirolla, who pioneered the exploration of the post-Tridentine Italian repertoire of devotional songs in vernacular (laude), was the first to highlight the existence of a substantial Jesuit tradition in that genre. His erudite work “Laudi e canti religiosi […] al tempo di Roberto Bellarmino” (1990), which included a bibliographical survey of the extant printed sources, showed that the Jesuit laude were chiefly connected with the schools of Christian doctrine and largely independent from the better known corpus of laude promoted by Philip Neri’s Oratorians.22 The importance of devotional songs in vernacular emerged also for France: the specific essay by Gerald Pau, “De l’usage de la chanson spirituelle par les jésuites au temps de la Contre-Réforme” (1981)23 and the relevant passages in the broader-oriented studies by Dorothy Packer (1989) and Denise Launay (1991),24 began to lift the veil on the rich corpus of spiritual songs (cantiques) written, collected, and disseminated by the Jesuits in French-speaking areas. The same happened in German-speaking lands, as showed by the monumental work by Dietz-Rüdiger Moser, Verkündigung durch Volksgesang (1981)25 and, for liturgical songs in vernacular, by Andreas Heinz’s “Die Jesuiten als Förderer deutscher Messlieder” (1985).26

The work of art historian Louise Rice along with Antony John’s subsequent edition (2004) of the “Music for an Academic Defense” by Domenico Allegri drew attention to the importance of music in the festivities that accompanied the defenses of theses at the Roman College.27 As further research by Saverio Franchi showed,28 this tradition dated back to the 1580s and was soon imitated by other institutions. The Latin texts for the vocal-instrumental pieces were written by Jesuit authors and printed in booklets; distinguished composers such as Anerio, Landi, and Mazzocchi were involved.

Following the tradition inaugurated by Wittwer and Hüschen, German scholars such as philologist Fidel Rädle (2002) and musicologist Franz Körndle (2006) continued to explore the role of music in Jesuit dramas by means of case studies.29 Central European scholars followed suit.30 Complementary to the study of music in the dramas is that of dance. The works of cultural historian Alessandro Arcangeli (from 1990),31 the book by dance historian Judith Rock (1996)32 and the dissertation published by historian Marianne Ruel (2006)33 showed that, surprising as it might sound, dance had a significant place in the education provided by the Jesuits to early modern élites. Ruel also attracted attention to the importance of dances in popular rituals (especially during Corpus Christi processions) and to the identitarian role they assumed in confessionally contested areas: this often prompted Jesuits to endorse them, defending them from the criticism raised by Protestants and fellow Catholics alike.

Scholars have also investigated how music was selected for the use in Jesuit institutions, and how policies of musical censorship were enforced. In an article of 2009,34 American musicologist David Crook studied a brief ordinance that had been issued from Rome in 1575 by General Everard Mercurian regarding the use of music in Jesuit colleges, then expanded and customized in Munich by the provincial of the Upper German Province in the 1590s, and complemented with a detailed catalogue of approved and prohibited music. Whereas Crook’s depiction of the “dark side” of the era of confessionalization at times seems biased, the light he cast on the workings of censorship has undoubtedly enriched the picture of late sixteenth-century musical life in Jesuit environments, and continued Culley’s and McNaspy’s (and Kennedy’s) reflections on the tensions between center and periphery, between norms and practical life.

The use of music by Jesuits in extra-European missionary contexts has been one of the most fertile fields of research. Whereas China and North America have been the subject of rather sporadic studies,35 Latin America and especially the reducciones have attracted more substantial interest. There has been a transition from such pioneering accounts as those by Guillermo Fúrlong, S.J. and Samuel Claro Valdés36 to more complex treatments.37 The finding and subsequent cataloguing of extant scores and musical instruments in the former reducciones of Chiquitos (Bolivia) during the project “Historia y antropología de la música en Chiquitos” funded by the Argentinian CONICET in 1988–1993 marked a turning point.38 The members of the research team (Bernardo Illari, Leonardo Waisman, Gerardo Huseby, and Irma Ruiz) inaugurated a new way of considering the Jesuit music of the reducciones, based on the material discoveries of scores and instruments and on a combination of musicological and ethnomusicological methods. This new literature has often adopted a postcolonial perspective, attentive to the past and present socio-political implications of the musical and sonic strategies implemented by Jesuit missionaries.39 A certain divide between scholarly communities has become and still is apparent (with exceptions). The scholarship of Latin-American researchers reflects their fieldwork, the complex ideological debates which characterize post-colonial countries, and the delicate problems related to the ongoing active rediscovery of this heritage. European and North-American scholars tend, instead, to work mainly (if often with remarkable subtlety) on the written records produced by early modern European missionaries, travelers, and ethnographers.

Finally, it is interesting to note how scholars working on Jesuits and music have had an impact on and interacted with the world of performance, by preparing critical editions of musical works, supervising productions, and inspiring recordings. Many Jesuit-related musical sources are lost, for reasons which include the ephemeral nature of part of the repertoire (music for day-to-day religious consumption was not necessarily deemed worthy of permanent preservation in the mentality of the time); the adverse environmental conditions in certain missionary areas; and the dispersal and destruction of books and documents which occurred during the suppression in the late eighteenth century. In spite of this, many works are extant, most of them still unpublished. Among the few modern editions, the one of Allegri’s “academic” music by Antony John mentioned above appeared in the widely distributed series Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era. Piotr Nawrot, a Polish Verbite missionary to Bolivia, has edited many compositions by Zipoli and other music from the reducciones in the series Monumenta Musica in Chiquitorum Reductionibus Boliviae.40 Nawrot’s work as a scholar, teacher, and organizer has been instrumental for the rediscovery of the “Bolivian baroque” (or “Mission baroque”), which has attracted considerable attention from the global media and raised some controversy among specialists. T. Frank Kennedy has been directly involved for many years in the preparation of scores, the stage production, and the recording of Jesuit-related operas, notably by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (c.1580–1651) (Apotheosis sive consecratio ss. Ignatii et Francisci Xaverii, Rome, 1622), by Johann Bernhard Staudt (1654–1712) (Patientis Christi memoria, Vienna, 1685), and by Jesuit missionary composers Zipoli and Schmid (San Ignacio, c.1755).41 French ethnomusicologist François Picard has cooperated in the recording of a “Mass of the Jesuits in Beijing” based on materials he had discovered and transcribed from Chinese notation.42


Recent Developments

How is the study of music and the Jesuits positioned in the recent and current agenda of musicology and related disciplines? Certain developments in scholarship have provided innovative hermeneutic tools and indirectly contributed to foster interest in these topics: for instance, the consolidation of the cultural-historical approach to music, the rise of historical sound studies (and the incipient sonic turn in history writing), the growth of historical ethnomusicology, and a renewed attention to longue durée structures beyond the traditional, style-based periodization of music history (Renaissance, baroque, etc.). Musicologists are now generally aware of Jesuit topics, also as a consequence of the interdisciplinary nature and the phenomenal topicality of Jesuit studies, and in the wake of the increasingly frequent adoption of “early modern Catholicism” as a chronological and conceptual category.

Topics such as the music in the Jesuit reducciones have become “evergreen”: they form the subject of a relatively small but constant flow of publications such as doctoral dissertations (especially from Latin American universities), essays, and books that exhibit the originality and repetition, innovative methods and popularizing rhetoric characteristic of established fields of inquiry. There are signs that studies on Jesuit themes are gaining momentum in the discipline, although they still look more like the outcomes of isolated efforts than the results of an established and widely acknowledged topicality. Among these signs are two books published in 2014 and a special issue of the Journal of Jesuit Studies appeared in 2016.

The first book, Music as Cultural Mission: Exploration of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America, edited by Anna Harwell Celenza and Anthony DelDonna,43 attests to the musicological reception of concepts elaborated in the interdisciplinary arena of Jesuit studies: here notably O’Malley’s notion of the “Jesuit cultural mission.”44 The main focus of this collection of studies falls on the eighteenth century, with special emphasis on Naples and on the intersections between music and theater. Interestingly for the present discussion, the book combines papers by Italian and American scholars, thus complementing two music-historiographical traditions characterized by different methods and tenets: one more preoccupied with the careful collecting and the rigorous reading of archival documents, the other more inclined to the interpretation of the documents themselves and to theoretical commitment. As a result, the first part of the book presents a thick and informative description of the cultural, religious, and social factors related to the production of music and theater in Jesuit environments, within the urban contexts of Naples and Milan. Worth mentioning, from the second part dedicated to North America, is Kenneth Stilwell’s paper on songs in the Jesuit missions among the Huron, which addresses complex aspects of the encounter between the oral culture of the natives and the combined written-and-oral culture of European missionaries.

The second book, Die Musik- und Theaterpraxis der Jesuiten im kolonialen Amerika, edited by Christian Storch,45 aims to problematize and rekindle the interest of another paramount musicological tradition, the German one, in the study of Jesuit music and theater in Latin America. Interdisciplinary and rich in up-to-date bibliographic information, the book embraces, right from the historiographical survey contained in the introduction (“Einführung: Kolonialgeschichte und Historiographie”), a lively post-colonial approach. In a methodological paper titled “Die Jesuiten in Amerika: Ein Desiderat für die historische Musikwissenschaft in Deutschland?,” the editor denounces the contradiction between the historical and recent attention of German musicology for Jesuit topics on the one hand, and the lack of interest for the specific subject of colonial America on the other. He challenges German scholars to re-read the documents (specifically those produced by the many Germanophone missionaries) in light of the rich German tradition in matters of colonial history and history of the missions; furthermore, he recommends  study of the extant scores (often neglected, in his view, in the ideological debates between “pro-Jesuit” and “post-colonial” scholars) in parallel with the contemporary European repertoire. The papers included in the book represent a first reaction to this challenge, and provide up-to-date surveys in German on major topics, as well as some more cutting-edge case studies.

The essays collected in the monographic issue “‘Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth’: Music and Sound in the Ministries of Early Modern Jesuits” further exemplify the diverse approaches to Jesuit topics in current musicology.46 The musical life of confraternities and sodalities promoted by the Jesuits is investigated taking into account questions of international networking and of social interaction in urban environments, as well as the use of the printed media. The conceptual tools of sound studies are applied to Jesuit missionary strategies in Latin America and in the confessionally contested areas of Central Europe. The analysis of an eighteenth-century Italian oratorio gives insight into the “myth” of a Christian Japan in Jesuit imagination. The role of songs in popular missions carried out throughout the Mediterranean islands is studied with the hybrid methods of historical ethnomusicology. The common trait among these different approaches is the commitment to investigate the strong nexus between the various Jesuit ministries and the corresponding musical and sonic practices.

The studies included in the three collective works just discussed show, among other things, the interdisciplinary potential of musicological contributions on Jesuits. Far from being exclusively preoccupied with musical technicalities inaccessible to laymen, musicologists are currently working with a wide variety of tools on such disparate historical evidence as archival documents, printed books and manuscripts, artwork, material objects, architectural spaces, and present-day orally-transmitted musical practices. Their work absorbs information and stimuli from other fields (reflecting, as said, the present flourishing of Jesuit studies) and in turn can contribute nowadays in a significant and perhaps unprecedented measure to the interdisciplinary debate.


Ongoing Projects and Perspectives for Future Research

Even though the frustrating loss of many Jesuit-related musical sources sometimes makes it hard to connect the historical research with the living musical practice, the study of Jesuits and music surely provides ample opportunities for future research. Many areas and problems have been barely touched upon by modern scholarship; they await more thorough exploration. Geographically, central and eastern Europe seem especially promising. Partly as a consequence of political events and linguistic divides, those areas have been inadequately studied, and the locally produced scholarly literature, mostly published in Slavic languages, has had a very limited reception elsewhere. A recently started international project on “The Music Repertoire of the Society of Jesus in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1565–1773)” led by Polish musicologist Tomasz Jeż will hopefully break new ground and bring the subject into the limelight of the international scholarly community.47 Western European provinces as well await systematic studies capable of going beyond the monographic consideration of individual institutions or cities, and of illustrating the complex working of local and wider Jesuit networks.

As it often happens, topics dealt with in pioneering works have subsequently received scarce attention: the Italian lauda, for instance, would be a noteworthy subject, especially if considered in the wide framework of the long early modern era and in its multiple connections with different Jesuit ministries (from the teaching of the catechism to popular missions). More generally, a reassessment of the role of the Jesuits in the European song cultures of the early modern era is a complex but promising task for future research.48 Issues of inter/trans/cross/multi-confessionality in the production and use of songs and music will also need to be taken into consideration. Jesuit theatrical music too, even though periodically given interesting case studies,49 still awaits a more comprehensive treatment.

As for the theme of music in the missions, the available body of knowledge is dispersed over a myriad of case studies. Valuable information remains hidden in the pages and footnotes of the immense interdisciplinary literature: there need to be comparative surveys and new syntheses. New studies ought to  examine and compare the different roles of music in the missionary strategies based on the characteristics of the various civilizations the Jesuits encountered.50 They will also need to take into account issues of resistance against the missionaries’ sonic propaganda, and the delicate (and often either overlooked or ideologized) question of the suppression of indigenous music. Comparative studies should examine Jesuit missionary strategies against those of other orders, particularly the Franciscans.51 In light of the current “global” perspective on early modern Catholicism, connections between the Society’s methods in extra-European missions and its action on European soil will need to be more closely studied: both in terms of the recruitment and education of prospective missionaries,52 and in terms of the enactment of parallel methods in European popular missions.53 In other words, the further (and properly musicological) development of theater scholar Bernadette Majorana’s work on the “spectacular” strategies adopted in European popular missions will paradoxically profit from an accurate knowledge of extra-European scenarios, and vice versa.54

For a fuller understanding of the Jesuits’ musical culture, it will be necessary, as I have argued elsewhere,55 to let the study of “high” musical artifacts commissioned or composed by Jesuits (such as polyphonic spiritual madrigals, liturgical pieces, or operas) interact with the study of a broader range of musical and sonic practices. Whereas the different genres have different aesthetic significance and often belong to distinct spheres, the continuity and interchange between these various levels will need to be explored within the complex life of the Society. Similarly, the centrifugal orientation of recent researches will need to be reconciled, so to speak, with the Rome-centric focus of many seminal pieces of scholarship from the 1970s to 1990s, in order to further elucidate the structure and the working of Jesuit musical networks.


* * *


Musicological literature, when not ignored, is still often regarded with a mixture of awe and suspicion in the interdisciplinary arena. The study of early modern Jesuits and music, or to put it even more generally, the study of the Jesuits as agents and recipients within the soundscape of early modern Catholicism, might be the right field for a renewed and more fruitful encounter between the disciplines. As I hope to have shown in this survey, a vast amount of knowledge on this topic has already been accumulated, in spite of all the difficulties and shortcomings. Non-musicologists are thus encouraged to confidently explore this literature, which is often less technical and more readable than they might expect. Musicologists, in turn, are encouraged to  further engage in interdisciplinary work, which, as T. Frank Kennedy has recently written, “is surely necessary when writing about any history of the Society of Jesus.”56


For more bibliographical information, consult Boston College Jesuit Bibliography: The New Sommervogel Online (NSO).


^ Back to text1. I am thankful to Jutta Toelle for reading a preliminary draft of this essay.

^ Back to text2. For these and all the other musicians named in the article, I refer the reader to the biographical entries in standard musicological encyclopedias: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (now available through Grove Music Online: Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed October 13, 2016), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, first edition, ed. Friedrich Blume (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1949–86); second edition, ed. Ludwig Finscher (Kassel-Stuttgart: Bärenreiter-Metzler, 1994–2008), Dizionario enciclopedico universale della musica e dei musicisti, ed. Alberto Basso (Turin: Utet, 1983–99), and Diccionario de la música española e hispanoamericana, ed. Emilio Casares Rodicio (Madrid: Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, 1999–2002). The various entries on the Jesuits in the same reference works, as well as that by José Ignacio Tejón on “música y danza” in Diccionario histórico de la Compañía de Jesús (Rome–Madrid: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu–Universidad Pontificia Comillas, 2001), 3:2776–89, contain valuable information about the historiography on Jesuit music. See also the recent contribution by the late T. Frank Kennedy, “Music and Jesuits: Historiography, and a Global Perspective,” in “‘Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth’: Music and Sound in the Ministries of Early Modern Jesuits,” ed. Daniele V. Filippi, special issue, Journal of Jesuit Studies 3, no. 3 (2016), 365–76 (doi: 10.1163/22141332-00303002). For further musicological bibliography, the main reference tool is the online database RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, currently available via subscription on the platform (accessed October 13, 2016).

^ Back to text3. Analecta hymnica Medii Aevi is an extensive collection (55 vols.) of medieval Latin hymns and songs, published between 1886 and 1922; it is now available online at (accessed October 13, 2016).

^ Back to text4. Félix Zabala Lana, Músicos jesuitas a lo largo de la historia (Bilbao: Mensajero, 2008) provides more than six hundred biographical entries on Jesuit composers, hymnographers, theorists, music teachers, and musicologists; even though the work falls short of scientific standards, it includes useful information, especially on contemporary Jesuits, and constitutes a good starting point for a preliminary, quantitative appreciation of the Society’s involvement with music.

^ Back to text5. Max Wittwer, “Die Musikpflege im Jesuitenorden unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Länder deutscher Zunge” (PhD diss., Greifswald, 1934).

^ Back to text6. Heinrich Hüschen, “Jesuiten,” in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 7 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1958), cols. 17–41.

^ Back to text7. In line with the traditional German inclination to systematically collect data and bibliographic information, the entry includes what probably still is the most comprehensive listing of songbooks promoted or published by the Jesuits, of plays performed at Jesuit institutions, as well as of poets, musicians, and writers on music among the members of the Society.

^ Back to text8. Thomas D. Culley, Jesuits and Music I: A Study of the Musicians Connected with the German College in Rome During the 17th Century and Their Activities in Northern Europe, Sources and Studies for the History of the Jesuits 2 (Rome: Jesuit Historical Institute, 1970), based on the author’s thesis directed by Nino Pirrotta, “A Documentary History of the Liturgical Music at the German College in Rome, 1573–1674” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 1965). Culley’s book was apparently meant to inaugurate a new subseries about Jesuits and music (see the Preface), but no further volume has ever appeared.

^ Back to text9. Thomas D. Culley and Clement G. McNaspy, “Music and the Early Jesuits (1540–1565),” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 40 (1971): 213–45.

^ Back to text10. Thomas D. Culley, “Musical Activity in Some Sixteenth-Century Jesuit Colleges with Special Reference to the Venerable English College in Rome from 1579 to 1589,” Analecta musicologica 19 (1979): 1–29.

^ Back to text11. Graham Dixon, “Musical Activity in the Church of the Gesù in Rome during the Early Baroque,” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 49 (1980): 323–37.

^ Back to text12. T. Frank Kennedy, “The Musical Tradition at the Roman Seminary During the First Sixty Years (1564–1621),” in Bellarmino e la Controriforma: Atti del simposio internazionale di studi, Sora 15–18 ottobre 1986, ed. Romeo De Maio (Sora, Italy: Centro di studi sorani “Vincenzo Patriarca,” 1990), 629–60.

^ Back to text13. Josef Wicki, “Gesang, Tänze und Musik im Dienst der alten indischen Jesuitenmissionen (ca. 1542–1582),” in Missionskirche im Orient: Ausgewählte Beiträge über Portugiesisch-Asien, Supplementa 24 (Immensee: Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft, 1976), 138–52.

^ Back to text14. Alfred E. Lemmon, “Jesuits and Music in Mexico,” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 46 (1977): 191–98; Lemmon, “Jesuits and Music in the ‘Provincia del Nuevo Reino de Granada,’” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 48 (1979): 149–60.

^ Back to text15. T. Frank Kennedy, “Jesuits and Music: The European Tradition 1547–1622” (PhD diss., University of California, 1982).

^ Back to text16. Kennedy, “Jesuits and Music: Reconsidering the Early Years,” Studi musicali 17, no. 1 (1988): 71–100.

^ Back to text17. See John W. O’Malley, “The Historiography of the Society of Jesus: Where Does It Stand Today?” in The Jesuits: Cultures Sciences and the Arts, 1540–1773, ed. John W. O’Malley et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999): 3–37, here 3, and its commented summary in Kennedy, “Music and Jesuits: Historiography.”

^ Back to text18. O’Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

^ Back to text19. See Bruno Nettl, “The Institutionalization of Musicology: Perspectives of a North American Ethnomusicologist,” in Rethinking Music, ed. Nicholas Cook and Mark Everist (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 287–310, here 288.

^ Back to text20. Anna Pia Sciolari Meluzzi, “Il ritrovamento e l’inventariazione del fondo musicale manoscritto dei secoli XVIII e XIX nella prima chiesa dei gesuiti,” Revista de musicología 16, no. 6 (1993): 3673–83; T. Frank Kennedy, “Jesuit Colleges and Chapels: Motet Function in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries,” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 65, no. 130 (1996): 197–213; C. Jane Gosine and Erik Oland, “Docere, Delectare, Movere: Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Jesuit Spirituality,” Early Music 32, no. 4 (2004): 511–39; David Crook, “‘A Certain Indulgence’: Music at the Jesuit College in Paris, 1575–1590,” in The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, ed. John W. O’Malley et al. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 454–78; Alexander J. Fisher, “Celestial Sirens and Nightingales: Change and Assimilation in the Munich Anthologies of Georg Victorinus,” Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music 14 (2008), (accessed October 13, 2016).

^ Back to text21. See O’Malley et al., Jesuits and Jesuits II.

^ Back to text22. See Giancarlo Rostirolla, “Laudi e canti religiosi per l’esercizio spirituale della Dottrina cristiana al tempo di Roberto Bellarmino,” in Bellarmino e la Controriforma, 663–847; now reprinted in Giancarlo Rostirolla, Danilo Zardin, and Oscar Mischiati, La lauda spirituale tra Cinque e Seicento: Poesie e canti devozionali nell’Italia della Controriforma, ed. G. Filippi et al. (Rome: Istituto di bibliografia musicale, 2001), 275–472; see also, in the same book, Giancarlo Rostirolla, “Laudi e canti spirituali nelle edizioni della prima ‘controriforma’ milanese,” 563–94.

^ Back to text23. Gerald Pau, “De l’usage de la chanson spirituelle par les jésuites au temps de la Contre-Réforme,” in La chanson à la Renaissance: Actes du XXe colloque d’études humanistes du Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance de l’Université de Tours, juillet 1977, ed. Jean-Michel Vaccaro (Tours: Van de Velde, 1981), 15–34.

^ Back to text24. Dorothy S. Packer, “Collections of Chaste Chansons for the Devout Home (1613–1633),” Acta musicologica 61, no. 2 (1989): 175–216; Denise Launay, La musique religieuse en France du Concile de Trente à 1804 (Paris: Société Française de Musicologie, 1993). Launay’s posthumous book is still an invaluable reference work for the study of French religious music in the long early modern era.

^ Back to text25. Dietz-Rüdiger Moser, Verkündigung durch Volksgesang: Studien zur Liedpropaganda und -katechese der Gegenreformation (Berlin: E. Schmidt, 1981).

^ Back to text26. Andreas Heinz, “Die Jesuiten als Förderer deutscher Messlieder: Ein frühes Zeugnis für die Praxis des ‘Deutschen Hochamts’ (Friedrichstadt 1687),” Liturgisches Jahrbuch 35 (1985): 158–67. More recently on Jesuits and German songs, see the posthumous work by Lukas Richter, “Das Volkslied im 17. Jahrhundert,” in Albrecht Classen and Lukas Richter, Lied und Liederbuch in der Frühen Neuzeit (Münster: Waxmann, 2010), 9–130, esp. 25–76.

^ Back to text27. Domenico Allegri, Music for an Academic Defense (Rome, 1617), ed. Antony John, Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era 134 (Middleton, Wis.: A-R Editions, 2004), with historical and textual commentary by Louise Rice.

^ Back to text28. Saverio Franchi, “Allegorie musicali gesuitiche: Le odi latine per laurea al Collegio Romano,” in Ars magna musices: Athanasius Kircher und die Universalität der Musik; Vorträge des deutsch-italienischen Symposiums aus Anlass des 400. Geburtstages von Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), Analecta Musicologica 38 (Laaber: Laaber Verlag, 2007), 281–354; the essay includes a list of the Latin odes performed at the Roman College between 1601 and 1695.

^ Back to text29. Fidel Rädle, “Musik und Musiker auf der Bühne des frühen Jesuitentheaters,” in Musikalische Quellen: Quellen zur Musikgeschichte; Festschrift für Martin Staehelin zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Jürgen Heidrich, Hans Joachim Marx, and Ulrich Konrad (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002), 187–202; Franz Körndle, “Between Stage and Divine Service: Jesuits and Theatrical Music,” in O’Malley et al., Jesuits II, 479–97. For an earlier dissertation on the subject, see Waltraute Kramer, “Die Musik im Wiener Jesuitendrama von 1677–1711” (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1961).

^ Back to text30. See for instance Ladislav Kačic, “Musik und Tanz im Jesuitendrama Mitteleuropas des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts,” in Bohemia Jesuitica 1556–2006, ed. Petronila Cemus (Prague: Karolinum, 2010), 1053–60; Tomasz Jeż, “Między rappresentatione a melodrama sacrum: Muzyczne aspekty dramatu jezuickiego w barokowym Wrocławiu” [Between rappresentatione and melodrama sacrum: the musical aspects of Jesuit drama in baroque Wrocław], Muzyka 61, no. 3 (2011): 75–94.

^ Back to text31. Alessandro Arcangeli, “I gesuiti e la danza,” Quadrivium n.s. 1, no. 2 (1990): 21–37; Arcangeli, “The Ballroom and the Stage: The Dance Repertoire of the Society of Jesus,” in I Gesuiti e la Ratio studiorum, ed. Manfred Hinz, Roberto Righi, and Danilo Zardin (Rome: Bulzoni, 2004), 67–73.

^ Back to text32. Judith Rock, Terpsichore at Louis-Le-Grand: Baroque Dance on a Jesuit Stage in Paris (Saint Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996).

^ Back to text33. Marianne Ruel, Les chrétiens et la danse dans la France moderne: XVIe–XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Champion, 2006).

^ Back to text34. David Crook, “A Sixteenth-Century Catalog of Prohibited Music,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 62, no. 1 (2009): 1–78.

^ Back to text35. For China, see especially the works by François Picard, for instance François Picard and Pierre Marsone, “Le cahier de musique sacrée du père Amiot: Un recueil de prières chantées en chinois du XVIIIe siècle,” Sanjiao wenxian: Matériaux pour l’étude de la religion chinoise 3 (1999), 13–72; for North America, see the excellent study by Paul-André Dubois, De l’oreille au cœur: Naissance du chant religieux en langues amérindiennes dans les missions de Nouvelle-France, 1600–1650 (Sillery, Québec: Les éditions du Septentrion, 1997), not exclusively dedicated to the Jesuits.

^ Back to text36. Guillermo Fúrlong, Músicos argentinos durante la dominación hispánica (Buenos Aires: Huarpe, 1945); Samuel Claro Valdés, “La música en las misiones jesuitas de Moxos,” Revista musical chilena (1969): 7–31. See also Carlos Leonhardt, “La música y el teatro en el tiempo de los antiguos jesuitas de la provincia de la Compañía de Jesús del Paraguay,” Estudios 26 (1924): 128–33, 203–14.

^ Back to text37. For a recent and factual account on the music of the Jesuit reducciones, see Piotr Nawrot, “Teaching of Music and the Celebration of Liturgical Events in the Jesuit Reductions,” Anthropos 99, no. 1 (2004): 73–84. A good book-length study is Johann Herczog, Orfeo nelle Indie: I gesuiti e la musica in Paraguay (1609–1767) ([Galatina]: M. Congedo, 2001): richly documented, it betrays however a Eurocentric bias and needs to be complemented, in substance and method, with more recent literature.

^ Back to text38. See the relevant contributions in Eckart Kühne, ed., Martin Schmid: 1694–1772: Missionar – Musiker – Architekt; Ein Jesuit aus der Schweiz bei den Chiquitano-Indianern in Bolivien (Luzern: Historisches Museum, 1994); this catalogue of an exhibition which took place in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1994 constitutes an informative and richly documented interdisciplinary discussion of the reducciones.

^ Back to text39. See “Música en la colonia y en la república,” special issue, Data: Revista del Instituto de Estudios Andinos y Amazónicos 7 (1997); Guillermo Wilde, “Toward a Political Anthropology of Mission Sound: Paraguay in the 17th and 18th Centuries,” Music and Politics 1, no. 2 (2007), (accessed October 13, 2016); and Leonardo J. Waisman, “Urban Music in the Wilderness: Ideology and Power in the Jesuit ‘reducciones,’ 1609–1767,” in Music and Urban Society in Colonial Latin America, ed. Geoffrey Baker and Tess Knighton (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 208–29.

^ Back to text40. Cochabamba, Bolivia: Editorial Verbo Divino.

^ Back to text41. The Jesuit Operas: Operas by Johannes Kapsberger (Apotheosis sive consecratio ss. Ignatii et Francisci Xaverii) and Domenico Zipoli/Martin Schmid/et al. (San Ignacio), 2-CD set, Dorian Recordings: 3243, 2003, with liner notes by T. Frank Kennedy and Bernardo Illari. Staudt’s chamber opera is recorded in a DVD attached to O’Malley et al., Jesuits II.

^ Back to text42. Joseph-Marie Amiot et al., Messe des jésuites de Pékin, François Picard, Jean-Christophe Frisch, XVIII-21, Musique des lumières, Ensemble Meihua Fleur de Prunus, Choeur du Centre catholique chinois de Paris, Astrée: 8642, 1998, with liner notes by François Picard and Jean-Christophe Frisch. On these and other musical reconstructions, see now Jean-Christophe Frisch, Le baroque nomade (Arles: Actes sud, 2014).

^ Back to text43. Anna Harwell Celenza and Anthony DelDonna, eds., Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2014).

^ Back to text44. John W. O’Malley, “Saint Ignatius and the Cultural Mission of the Society of Jesus,” in John W. O’Malley and Gauvin A. Bailey, eds., The Jesuits and the Arts, 1540–1773 (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2005), 1–26.

^ Back to text45. Christian Storch, ed., Die Musik- und Theaterpraxis der Jesuiten im kolonialen Amerika: Grundlagen, Desiderate, Forschungsperspektiven (Sinzig: Studio, 2014).

^ Back to text46. Filippi, ed., “‘Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth’: Music and Sound in the Ministries of Early Modern Jesuits.”

^ Back to text47. Jeż has recently published a book on Silesia, with a summary chapter in English: Tomasz Jeż, Kultura muzyczna jezuitów na Śląsku i ziemi klodzkiej (1581–1776) [The music culture of the Jesuits in Silesia and Kłodzko County (1581–1776)] (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Sub Lupa, 2013).

^ Back to text48. On these different aspects, see my recent contributions: Daniele V. Filippi, “A Sound Doctrine: Early Modern Jesuits and the Singing of the Catechism,” Early Music History 34 (2015): 1–43; Filippi, “‘Ask the Jesuits to Send Verses from Rome’: The Society’s Networks and the European Dissemination of Devotional Music,” in Exploring Jesuit Distinctiveness: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Ways of Proceeding within the Society of Jesus, ed. Robert A. Maryks, Jesuit Studies 6 (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 62–80 (doi: 10.1163/9789004313354_006).

^ Back to text49. Most recently, Peter Leech and Maurice Whitehead, “‘In Paradise and Among Angels’: Music and Musicians at St. Omers English Jesuit College, 1593–1721,” Tijdschrift van de Vereniging Voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 61 (2011): 57–82 and Elizabeth Dyer, “Re-Constructing Jesuit Theatre for the Modern Stage: ‘Daphnis, Pastorale,’ an Eighteenth-Century Jesuit College Music-Drama,” Journal of the Alamire Foundation 5, no. 2 (2013): 263–98.

^ Back to text50. As suggested for instance by Johann Herczog, “Il sacro ‘esperimento’ nel segno dell’‘accomodazione’, ovvero il ruolo distinto della musica nell’evangelizzazione gesuitica,” in La musica dei semplici: L’altra Controriforma, ed. Stefania Nanni (Rome: Viella, 2012), 319–36.

^ Back to text51. Several of these issues will be addressed in a forthcoming book by German musicologist Jutta Toelle, tentatively titled “Music as Instrument: European Narratives about Mission through Music in Early Modern Latin America.” Toelle has written extensively on these topics in recent years: see, for instance, her contributions in the collections edited by Storch and by Filippi discussed above.

^ Back to text52. See Tomasz Jeż, “Jesuit Musicians from Baroque Silesia as Missionaries and Music Educators in South America,” in La cultura del barroco español e iberoamericano y su contexto europeo, ed. Kazimierz Sabik and Karolina Kumor (Warsaw: Instytut Studiów Iberyjskich i Iberoamerykańskich, 2010), 607–17.

^ Back to text53. See Daniele V. Filippi, “Songs in Early Modern Catholic Missions: Between Europe, the Indies, and the ‘Indies of Europe,’” in Vokalpolyphonie zwischen Alter und Neuer Welt: Musikalische Austauschprozesse zwischen Europa und Lateinamerika im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert, ed. Klaus Pietschmann, Troja – Jahrbuch für Renaissance-musik 14 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, forthcoming).

^ Back to text54. See at least Bernadette Majorana, “Une pastorale spectaculaire: Missions et missionnaires jésuites en Italie (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle),” Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 57 (2002): 297–320 and Majorana, “Musiche voci e suoni nelle missioni rurali dei gesuiti italiani (XVI–XVIII secolo),” in Nanni, La musica dei semplici, 125–54.

^ Back to text55. Filippi, “Introduction,” in “‘Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth,’” 357–64 (doi: 10.1163/22141332-00303001); Filippi, “‘Ask the Jesuits,’” 78.

^ Back to text56. Kennedy, “Music and Jesuits: Historiography,” 376.

Cite this page
Daniele V. Filippi, “Retrieving the Sounds of the Old Society: For a History of Historiography on Jesuits and Music”, in: Jesuit Historiography Online. Consulted online on 30 March 2017 <>
First published online: 2016

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