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Early Music Advance Access

Published: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 03:44:12 GMT


Med-Ren 2017 in Prague


The Anežský Klášter or Convent of Saint Agnes is a national cultural monument situated in the heart of Prague, on the bank of the Vltava. Founded in the early 1230s by Agnes of Bohemia (c.1211–1282, canonized in 1989), the daughter of King Ottokar I of Bohemia, the convent was built next to the St Francis Hospital, also founded by Agnes, as the first house of the Order of Saint Clare to be established north of the Alps. The large convent is now owned by the National Gallery which holds its permanent exhibitions on the first floor. It is one of the oldest and most important Gothic buildings in Prague and from 4 to 8 July 2017 it was the location of the 45th Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference.

Organ reform at South Bend


A conference-concert festival ‘Reformations and the Organ, 1517–2017’, held on 10 to 13 September 2017 at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, explored the organ, from the historical models used by European and American reformer-builders to the completed instruments and associated repertories and sound-worlds. Organized by Craig Cramer and Annette Richards in conjunction with the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, this event celebrated the inauguration in 2017 of organ-builder Paul Fritts & Co.’s op.37 in South Bend, with two masterclasses by Christophe Mantoux, nine recitals on four different organs, a harpsichord and a fortepiano, six pairs of paper sessions, and a final discussion. The concerts and papers were of very high quality.

The magic square of Olocin Ozzaniugnas


In 2009 Herbert Seifert published a description of certain Vivaldi sources held in the Estensischen Musikalien collection at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. In passing he described an unusual manuscript pasted into a print of Vivaldi’s op.2 violin sonatas—a ‘magic square’, consisting of a repeated array of alphabet symbols, running both horizontally and vertically, with an obscure series of pitch names running in four columns alongside. Although Seifert could not explain this document, he did identify the scribe as Nicolo Sanguinazzi (who tended to sign his name backwards), a bass string player who also copied many of the other items in the collection. Although Sanguinazzi held the collection prior to its acquisition by the Obizzi family in the late 18th century, no connection between the families has yet been made.This article offers both an explanation of the magic square and a possible identification of Nicolo Sanguinazzi as the uncle of Angela Sala, wife to Fernando Obizzi and mother to Tommaso Obizzi, the founder of the collection. The ‘magic square’ is in fact a visual guide to aid in the transposition of harmonic patterns using the alphabet symbols of 17th-century guitar notation (alfabeto). Alfabeto represents an anomaly in relation to the rest of the collection. These symbols do not appear anywhere else within the Vivaldi print, and are in any case stylistically inappropriate for that repertory. And Sanguinazzi’s other contributions to the collection postdate 1710, when alfabeto symbols were no longer current—he himself seems to have lived at least until 1740, at which point the alfabeto system was over 150 years old. There are antecedents, going back to the 16th century, of charts combining the alfabeto system with other types of harmonic notation, and Sanguinazzi’s magic square can be interpreted in that tradition. It is unique, however, in the extent to which it attempts to merge the alfabeto system with major–minor harmonic tonality. This remarkable visual artefact argues for the influence of 17th-century harmonic practice, in the form of alfabeto symbols, well into the early 18th century, long past the currency of alfabeto as a performance practice.