Title

Nuper rosarum flores: The Cathedral Conundrum

Presenters

Jacy StahlhutFollow

Type of Submission

Podium Presentation

Keywords

Dufay, Florence Cathedral, Nuper rosarum flores, Warren, Wright, Trachtenburg

Proposal

In 1436, Pope Eugenius IV consecrated the newly-completed Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as Florence Cathedral. The completion of the cathedral’s dome was an incredible feat of great significance to the city of Florence, whose cathedral had remained unfinished for over one hundred years, and the splendor of the dedication ceremony reflected this reality. Franco-Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay was commissioned to write a motet for the occasion, and the resulting work, Nuper rosarum flores, has sparked a great deal of controversy in the musicological realm. In 1973, musicologist Charles Warren claimed that the isorhythmic proportions of the motet reflected the architectural proportions of the cathedral, but Craig Wright later exposed several flaws within Warren’s analysis, suggesting instead that the motet’s unique proportional structure was intended to reflect King Solomon’s Temple as described in scripture. Yet another hypothesis, presented by Marvin Trachtenburg, claims that both Warren and Wright’s arguments are correct in some regard. This article seeks to explore Wright, Warren, and Trachtenburg’s respective theories through the study of Dufay’s motet, of the dedication of Florence Cathedral, and of the historical context of this event. Due to the speculative nature of the debate surrounding Nuper rosarum flores, it is doubtful that scholars will ever agree on an explanation for the motet’s unusual structure. However, the compromise between Warren and Wright’s contrasting theories presented by Trachtenburg is worthy of consideration as a compelling hypothesis which could hold the answer to the Nuper rosarum question.

Start Date

4-8-2020 1:00 PM

End Date

4-22-2020 6:00 PM

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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Apr 8th, 1:00 PM Apr 22nd, 6:00 PM

Nuper rosarum flores: The Cathedral Conundrum

In 1436, Pope Eugenius IV consecrated the newly-completed Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as Florence Cathedral. The completion of the cathedral’s dome was an incredible feat of great significance to the city of Florence, whose cathedral had remained unfinished for over one hundred years, and the splendor of the dedication ceremony reflected this reality. Franco-Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay was commissioned to write a motet for the occasion, and the resulting work, Nuper rosarum flores, has sparked a great deal of controversy in the musicological realm. In 1973, musicologist Charles Warren claimed that the isorhythmic proportions of the motet reflected the architectural proportions of the cathedral, but Craig Wright later exposed several flaws within Warren’s analysis, suggesting instead that the motet’s unique proportional structure was intended to reflect King Solomon’s Temple as described in scripture. Yet another hypothesis, presented by Marvin Trachtenburg, claims that both Warren and Wright’s arguments are correct in some regard. This article seeks to explore Wright, Warren, and Trachtenburg’s respective theories through the study of Dufay’s motet, of the dedication of Florence Cathedral, and of the historical context of this event. Due to the speculative nature of the debate surrounding Nuper rosarum flores, it is doubtful that scholars will ever agree on an explanation for the motet’s unusual structure. However, the compromise between Warren and Wright’s contrasting theories presented by Trachtenburg is worthy of consideration as a compelling hypothesis which could hold the answer to the Nuper rosarum question.