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Decadent Enchantments

The Revival of Gregorian Chant at Solesmes

Katherine Bergeron (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 196 pages
ISBN: 9780520210080
August 1998
$57.95, £42.95
The oldest written tradition of European music, the art we know as Gregorian chant, is seen from an entirely new perspective in Katherine Bergeron's engaging and literate study. Bergeron traces the history of the Gregorian revival from its Romantic origins in a community of French monks at Solesmes, whose founder hoped to rebuild the moral foundation of French culture on the ruins of the Benedictine order. She draws out the parallels between this longing for a lost liturgy and the postrevolutionary quest for lost monuments that fueled the French Gothic revival, a quest that produced the modern concept of "restoration."

Bergeron follows the technological development of the Gregorian restoration over a seventy-year period as it passed from the private performances of a monastic choir into the public commodities of printed books, photographs, and Gramophone records. She discusses such issues as architectural restoration, the modern history of typography, the uncanny power of the photographic image, and the authority of recorded sound. She also shows the extent to which different media shaped the modern image of the ancient repertory, an image that gave rise to conflicting notions not only of musical performance but of the very idea of music history.
Katherine Bergeron is Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, Berkeley and coeditor of Disciplining Music: Musicology and Its Canons (1992).
"Decadent Enchantments is an essay in culture history about chant scholarship as a phenomenon, an engaging, lively, and stimulating case study of Romantic and post-Romantic historicism run rampant, with brilliant aperçues and colorful analogies on almost every page."—Harold Powers, coauthor of Puccini's Turandot: The End of the Great Tradition

"This meditation on the nineteenth-century restoration of Gregorian chant will speak to historians and cultural analysts from a number of different fields. It adds to the growing list of musicological writings in which historical narrative joins in eloquent union with broad and sophisticated knowledge of recent cultural theory. The Benedictine monks of Solesmes and the repertory they did so much to define for the twentieth century will never seem quite the same."—Gary Tomlinson, author of Music in Renaissance Magic: Toward a Historiography of Others

"Katherine Bergeron discovers surprising connections between the recovery of chant, on the one hand, and on the other, Romantic decadence, print culture, facsimile technology, cultures of literacy, and much else. Decadent Enchantments is a model of historiography."—Susan McClary, author of Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality

ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in the Symphonic Books category, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

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