Umbria: Stroncone—Choral Books

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IMG_1390Stroncone was founded in the 10th century. On this field trip, we visit the town’s municipal building which houses choral books from the 14th century.

la romita pics - 119A choral book or choir book is a large format manuscript used by a musical ensemble of singers in churches or cathedrals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

IMG_1397The music is large enough so that the entire ensemble can read from the one book. Choral books were generally placed on a stand with the shorter boy sopranos standing in front and the men behind.

IMG_1419A choral book was a major investment. Many of them were utilitarian, and existing books show signs of extensive use.

IMG_1402Because of the translucency of vellum skin, you can see music, written on the verso,  showing through faintly, adding an ethereal quality.

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IMG_1395At larger cathedrals, choral books were lavishly decorated and illuminated.

IMG_1424Illuminated choral books were expensive to produce, so they were usually owned by families or institutions rather than individuals.

IMG_1423Once the printing of music became more commonplace, choral books were replaced by smaller, more economical books.

la romita pics - 112Throughout Umbria, lettering appears everywhere.

IMG_1522Even on the worn doorstep of a pharmacy in Assisi, the next town on the itinerary.

 


 

Coming up in the series:

Umbria: Assisi—Basilica of Saint Francis

Umbria: Deruta—Maiolica

Umbria: Bevagna—Papermaker

Umbria: Cascata delle Marmore—Manmade Waterfall

Umbria: Farewell—Ink, Paint, Paper, Passion

 

 

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Umbria: San Gemini—Small Town

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IMG_1338This handsome little guy followed us around town.

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41312269_2411744922185996_3592600814364917760_nAfter touring San Gemini (or any town)…

IMG_1346we stop in the piazza for cappuccino…

img_6052-e1538351117569.jpgand gelato!

la romita pics - 96Influences from Perugia’s library collection are creeping on to my manuscript pages!

la romita pics - 75.jpgA choral book inspires this luscious Q by Amity.

IMG_2112Cobblestone paths sneak into Sally’s book.

la romita pics - 248Floor tile patterns and doorways are finding their way on to our collaged book covers.

IMG_2107Rice paper dyed with Bister inks for the covers.

IMG_1309.JPGI became fascinated by Italian doors and passages—photographing over 100—which I won’t show here. (You’re welcome.)

 


 

Coming up in the series:

Umbria: Stroncone—Choral Books

Umbria: Assisi—Basilica of Saint Francis

Umbria: Deruta—Maiolica

Umbria: Bevagna—Papermaker

Umbria: Cascata delle Marmore—Manmade Waterfall

Umbria: Farewell—Ink, Paint, Paper, Passion

 

 

Umbria: Perugia—Medieval Manuscripts

To complement the in-class instruction, La Romita arranges field trips to nearby towns.

Perugia is one of the more picturesque towns in Umbria. Buitoni Pasta has a large presence here as well as Perugino, Italy’s premier chocolatier best known for Baci Perugina chocolates and pralines.  I bought several flavours of Baci, including their newest limited edition “pink” made with ruby cocoa and wrapped in pink foil. None of the chocolate made it home. They even disappeared before i could snap a photo of them.

Pasta and chocolate— what more do you need? Oh yes, gelato.

42155143_10156710369408874_3089049107596050432_n-e1537985158664.jpgRaniero, driver extraordinaire, navigates the narrow roads to get us safely to points of interest.

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la romita pics - 38On the first outing, we visit Perugia’s Biblioteca Augusta, established in 1582.

IMG_1232We have an appointment to view the library’s medieval manuscript collection. However, before we even get to the manuscripts, we pause to ogle the painted ceilings.

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img_1222-e1537973789468.jpgLa Romita director, Edmund Zimmerman (left), introduces library director, Paolo Renzi. Edmund and Brody provide language translation.

IMG_1273The public library was founded by Prosperi Podiani who donated his extensive book collection to seed the library. See the “library stamp” Podiani created to identify one of the books he owned.

la romita pics - 42Paolo Renzi presents manuscripts from the library’s holdings, answers questions, and lets us photograph pages. Brody’s knowledge of art history places the manuscripts in context and adds to Mr. Renzi’s explanations.

la romita pics - 49It was a privilege to get up close to a complete Bible (12th century), a choral book, a list of approved notaries from the region’s five neighourhoods (1343), and a Greek copy of Homer’s Iliad scribed by an Umbrian local (1450).

la-romita-pics-50.jpgIlluminations from 12th century Bible with images depicting the creation story.

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IMG_1256Medieval Bibles often contained prologues to help faciliate an understanding of the Scriptures. Starting with the words Frater Ambrosius (Brother Ambrose), this is Jerome’s letter to his pupil Ambrose. The initial F(rater) is often elaborately ornamented.

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la romita pics - 45A choral book was used by members of a musical ensemble or choir.

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IMG_1274Homer’s Iliad is scribed in Greek by local Umbrian city councillor Maturanzio in 1450. A professor and ambassador, he moved to Greece for extended study of the language.

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem (dated to the 8th century BC) traditionally attributed to Homer. In the standard accepted version, the Iliad contains 15,693 lines.

The Iliad is paired with the Odyssey, also attributed to Homer. Together, they are among the oldest existing works of Western literature.

IMG_1266Illumination from a 16th century manuscript featuring a combination of vellum and paper folios with contributions by male and female scribes of the Franciscan order.

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Coming up in the series:

Umbria: San Gemini—Small Town

Umbria: Stroncone—Choral Books

Umbria: Assisi—Basilica of Saint Francis

Umbria: Deruta—Maiolica

Umbria: Bevagna—Papermaker

Umbria: Cascata delle Marmore—Manmade Waterfall

Umbria: Farewell—Ink, Paint, Paper, Passion