Dante’s Musical Journey: from Unholy Racket to Heavenly Polyphony
This lecture will show the authorial design behind the musical references in Dante’s Commedia. Manuscript evidence and musicological scholarship will be used to analyze the literary passages in the Commedia, revealing the meaning of Dante’s carefully constructed musical message.
Francesco Ciabattoni is a specialist in medieval Italian literature. He received his Laurea in Lettere from the Università degli Studi di Torino in 1996 and his PhD in Italian Studies from The Johns Hopkins University in 2006. He has also taught at Connecticut College and Dalhousie University. Dr Ciabattoni’s research focus lies on Dante and the middle ages, the twentieth century short story and the interplay of music and literature. He has published articles on Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, a book on the role of music in the Comedy (Dante’s Journey to Polyphony, University of Toronto Press, 2010) and edited volumes on Primo Levi and Italian medieval literature. He has also published poems in Gradiva and a collection of lyrics titled Paradosso terrestre (Rome: Il filo 2008).
In Dante’s Journey to Polyphony, Francesco Ciabattoni’s erudite analysis sheds light on Dante’s use of music in the Divine Comedy. Following the work’s musical evolution, Ciabattoni moves from the cacophony of Inferno through the monophony of Purgatory, to the polyphony ofParadise and argues that Dante’s use of sacred songs constitutes a thoroughly planned system. Particular types of music accompany the pilgrim’s itinerary and reflect medieval theories regarding sound and the sacred. Combining musicological and philological scholarship, this book analyzes Dante’s use of music in conjunction with the form and content of his verse, resulting in a cross-discipline analysis also touching on Italian Studies, Medieval Studies, and Cultural History. After moving from infernal din to heavenly harmony, Ciabattoni’s final section addresses the music of the spheres, a theory that enjoyed great diffusion among the early middle ages, inspiring poets and philosophers for centuries.
The Italian Research Seminar, jointly organized by the Devers Program in Dante Studies and by Italian Studies at Notre Dame, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian history, language, and culture (from literature to film, from art history to music, and from anthropology to architecture), as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame’s community of Italianists to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for all Italianists.
Originally published at italianstudies.nd.edu.