News from the Lute Society


Dear all,

In case any of you may be in London this coming Monday, I am giving a paper on French baroque lute music at the Music and Morality conference hosted by the Institute of Musical Research and the Institute of Philosophy (University of London).

See below for details:

This looks set to be a really interesting conference (Susan McClary, Jerrold Levinson, John Deathridge, Roger Scruton and many others will be there), and it even appears that parts of the conference may be broadcast on the BBC.

I have included the abstract below.

All best wishes,


BENJAMIN NARVEY: Honest Music: The Case of the Seventeenth-Century
French Lute

If morality can be understood to be a code of social conduct, then French lute music of the Grand Sicle presents us with an intriguing example of how music can function as a moral agent. In the wake of the civil war known as the Fronde (1648-53), the traditional French nobility amongst whom the lute counted as a favourite instrumentre-invented itself in a bid to preserve its challenged status through a code of social forms and manners they called honntet: literally honesty.

This term at once evokes morality, but as we shall see, it is also intricately linked to contemporary discourses of power, representation, rhetoric, and artistic taste (bon got). In fact, many of the musical forms found in French lute music, and many of the luthistes playing techniques and compositional strategies, are directly linked to this moral code of honest courtly conductto the point that much of the lute repertoire proves uncommonly dependent on honesty for its coherence as an art form. Where from the view of modern common practice
tonality this repertoire often appears to lack the very components thaT render musical discourse intelligible (its harmonies often seem aimless, there is not always a continuous or defi nable melody, and rhythms can be displaced well beyond the bounds of normative hypermetricity), a reading of this repertoire through the lens of honntet shows how French lute music functioned as a classic moral performance, since it reproduced contemporary social conduct through artistic experience. Thus, the case of the French lute serves to highlight the interdependence between contemporary ethics and aesthetics, and thereby provides a useful example of how music can be linked to moral sensibilities.

-- Dr Benjamin A. Narvey Post-doctorant/Post-Doctoral Fellow Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne) IVe Section des Sciences historiques et philologiques t +33 (0) 1 44 27 03 44 p/m +33 (0) 6 71 79 98 98 Site web/Website: [2]


Friday 26 June

1.05pm Concert Room, Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HT, UK.

Telephone +44 (0)20 7873 7373 Free, no tickets required

Clavichord Recital

Menno Van Delft -Clavichord

  • JS Bach Fantasie in C minor, BWV906WF Bach Fugue no.2 in C minor, from Acht Fugen, Falck 31

  • Ernst Wilhelm Wolf Sonata in B flat WF Bach Fantasie in D minor, Falck 18

  • WF Bach Fugue no.4 in D minor from Acht Fugen, Falck 31

  • Mozart Ten Variations in G on the Arietta ‘Unser Dummer Pöbel meint from the Singspiel ‘Die Pilgrime von Mekka’ by Christoph Willibald Gluck, K.455

Dutch harpsichordist and clavichordist Menno Van Delft makes his first visit to the Academy.

Menno, whose performances on that most demanding of all early keyboard instruments have become internationally renowned, will give a lunchtime solo recital on the Academy’s fine Bavington/Hoffmann clavichord. All audience members are invited to stay for the afternoon masterclass.

Both events have been generously supported by the British Clavichord Society.
Followed by Clavichord Master Class, 2.30–5.30pm, Concert Room

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