Naomi J. Barker – Cicadas, charivaris and sistra: music in the Accademia dei Lincei



Event Date: 17 – 18 September 2011
British Library Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

The Italian Academies 1525–1700 Project presents:


This major international conference is being hosted as part of the AHRC funded research project The Italian Academies 1525-1700: the first intellectual networks of early modern Europe.

Academies represent a vital and characteristic dimension of early modern culture.
There were ca. 600 Academies in Italy in the period 1525-1700. Frequently international in membership, and in correspondence with scholars across Europe, they were fundamental to the development of the intellectual networks later defined as the ‘République des Lettres’, and to the dissemination of ideas in early modern Europe. Their membership included pioneering scientists, writers, artists, political thinkers, and representatives of both sexes and all social classes. The interests of the Academies ranged from the humanities, to the figurative and performance arts, natural sciences and medicine; many were interdisciplinary in their outlook and activities.

However, the social and cultural phenomenon of the Italian Academies has hitherto attracted relatively little research due in part to the wide range of their interests and difficulties in accessing relevant information.

The conference aims to explore research questions raised by the activities of Academies in this period.

Naomi J. BarkerCicadas, charivaris and sistra: music in the Accademia dei Lincei

This paper explores briefly the work of Cassiano dal Pozzo, Francesco Stelluti and Fabio Colonna, investigating aspects of their interest in the music of antiquity and its place in early modern Rome. The timing of the Lincean musical activities is juxtaposed with other significant events such as the injunctions against Galileo, throwing into relief some curious coincidences.  The antique on the one hand evoked classical authority and was afforded due reverence, but could it on the other, have provided an acceptable ‘smokescreen’ for potentially heretical scientific investigation, or within a musical context be used to divert attention away from more ‘dangerous’ topics? It will be suggested that elements of this antiquarian heritage are reflected in the patronage and cultural politics of the Barberini, and that music in particular may contain embedded references that mirror or deflect academic debates.



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