Conferences and Lectures at the Center for Early Music Studies

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September 19th, 2017

Thirty Years of War:
Henrich Schütz and Music in Protestant Germany


May 11-12, 2018, Boston University, Boston MA

The Thirty Years War (1618–1648) changed the political and physical landscape of central Europe, laying waste to broad swathes of territory and bringing widespread death and disease to warrior and civilian alike. Although electoral Saxony, the home of the composer Henrich Schütz, remained initially untouched by the conflict, it did not keep its privileged position for long: by the 1630s, it became fully engulfed in the hostilities, and by the middle of the decade the court chapel, the largest in Protestant Germany, found itself reduced to a shadow of its former self, forcing Schütz to venture abroad for extended stretches in order to continue composing.

As Kapellmeister to the Elector of Saxony, Schütz had to provide music not only for standard liturgical ceremonies but also for special occasions; and as several of these marked events in the war, we have a series of works that seem almost to trace the progress of battles, negotiations, and, ultimately, the peace of 1648 that marked the end of an older Europe and the start of a new one. English-language musicology has paid relatively little attention to seventeenth-century Germany; since the 1960s, German scholarship, too, has had other periods and places more on its mind. The 400th anniversary of the Thirty Years War, however, provides an occasion to revisit old issues, gain new perspectives, and better understand of a body of music that, created in times of greatest adversity, includes some of the most important achievements of its era.

The Center for Early Music Studies at Boston University is pleased to issue a call for proposals to participate in this international conference. The conference will bring ideally together musicologists, performers, and historians, and we encourage submissions for papers and panels related to, amplifying, or, naturally, extending, the conference themes listed below. The conference will also feature a performance of Schütz’s music, entitled Thirty Years of War, organized and directed by Joshua Rifkin.

Possible Panels and Themes of Conference 

Consequences of Chaos: Musical Institutions

Patronage and Poverty

Protestant / Catholic / German / Italian

From Grimmelshausen to Günter Grass: literary echoes

Schütz and others — regional differences

War and Peace: Musical Development after the Treaty of Westphalia

Individual Fates: Music Printing, Musical Production, Performance

Stress and Style Change

*  *   *

Please send abstracts for papers or panels by 1 December 2017 to

Victor Coelho

Professor and Director, Center for Early Music Studies


Organizing Committee:

Victor Coelho (Boston University), Joshua Rifkin (Boston University),

Bettina Varwig (Cambridge University)


CEMS Crawford Young Concert Mini Course Poster

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