A peregrinus is a pilgrim, one who travels, but also one who has a goal. And it is the title of a medieval music-drama that my Society for Old Music presented, of which more in the paragraphs below. But mainly I think of the following years as a pilgrimage, consisting of a good amount of travel, and also a happy peregrination within the University from Humanities to the School of Music, which I would join as a full professor. Until 1991, this period was marked by a single fracture, when in 1985 I tripped in the house shortly before a rehearsal was to begin and sustained a spiral fracture in my right femur, which, since the rod that had been inserted in 1968 by Ed Guise remained in place, would heal fairly satisfactorily. Of course, as time went on, warning signs were there, unfortunately too soon for some of the later developments in medicine to be available to prevent what was to come.
Very few of my travels could ever be regarded as the usual tourist thing. I have mentioned the trip that we took by train from Stockholm to Bergen, and the North Sea Ferry down the Norwegian coast and across to Newcastle in 1977. We had passed through Värmland, from which my mother’s mother’s family had emigrated, and of course my grandfather came from Bergen. But trips to museums, including the large as well as small, I always regarded as related to my profession. Architecture is crucial for music and performance, and it is such buildings that I visited, sometimes in spite of considerable barriers at their entry or in their interior. In London I can mention many buildings, from the Whitehall Banqueting House to the usual tourist traps like Westminister Abbey and St. Paul’s, but for me the latter were as important as places to hear music as for their architecture. In the end my preferences for church music resolved down mainly to All Saints, Margaret Street, and St. Mary the Virgin, Bourne Street, where I could hear the most exquisite classical and renaissance music. But of course I had to visit York Minster when in York, and, when in Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, where a slightly tipsy verger offered to help me ascend the tower - a temptation, but of course utterly impossible. At Windsor, where one year we were accompanied by my sister Ione, the only way we could enter St. George’s Chapel was at service time, for we had not made advance arrangements, and at S. Maria Novella in Florence we heard singing that was so refreshingly different from what we had heard in Rome.
Conferences too played a role. In 1980, we set out from London by train and ferry to go to a medieval drama colloquium in Dublin. As we crossed Wales, we heard to our delight the voices of schoolchildren chattering away in Welsh. Ferries are not always easy to negotiate, but at Holyhead we were given a fairly convenient compartment, which, however, I remember as claustrophobic. Remem-bering Milton’s “Lycidas,” a lament for a fellow student who was lost when crossing the Irish Sea, I sang the sailor’s hymn, then fell asleep, I am afraid fitfully. The morning came all too soon, and at landing at Dun Laoghairee we were surprised both at the palm trees along the shore and the cold, which dogged us all the time we were in Ireland, especially since our lodging seemed to have no heat even when the temperature dropped far below 60 degrees F. Entering Dublin, the bus took us past the post office made famous by the 1916 uprising and William Butler Yeats’ poem which proclaimed the result of the event to have changed everything in Ireland. We then transferred to another bus, on the advice of the co-convener of the conference, and found our way to his apartment for breakfast with him and Jean-Charles Payan, the eminent French scholar who had been Clifford’s host at Alençon three years before. On the way, we had missed our stop, and the driver drove the bus around the block to deposit us exactly in front of our destination.
We loved Dublin, in spite of the cold, wet June days. The conference, which met on the Belfield campus, was quite dis-organ-ized, since the co-convener had left Dublin for Paris with her new baby, I believe, and had left the colloquium in the hands of her husband and the faculty at University College. Still, there was much of interest to me. In Dean Marsh’s Library, near St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Jonathan Swift was dean in the eighteenth century, I was able to examine a manuscript of a unique Visit to the Sepulcher, complete with music and stage directions. It was from this manuscript that Alan Fletcher took his cues for staging the play, which he did in purely liturgical style as it would have been done in many locations prior to the Reformation. The three Marys, played by men in richly decorated copes and scarves over their heads, came, lamenting, through the audience to an Easter tomb or sepulcher, representing where Jesus had been buried on Good Friday. They carried not spices but censers on chains, and the University College chapel at Belfield was filled with smoke and the smell of incense. I was always a little allergic to incense, but the effect here was very good - and, of course, authentic. “Who shall roll away the stone from the tomb?” the Marys asked. They were then greeted, as in other examples of the Visit, by an angel at the tomb who would say in Latin, “Whom seek you here, O Christian women.” They replied, “We seek Jesus, who was crucified, O heaven dweller,” whereupon the angel said, “He is risen and is not here; come and see the place where he was laid.” This is the heart of the Visit, always followed by ritualized music of rejoicing, including in this case Wipo’s famous eleventh-century Easter antiphon Victimae paschale laudes (Praise to the Paschal Victim), which contains dialogue:
“What, Mary, did you see on the way?”
“I saw the living Christ’s tomb and the glory of his resurrection.”
Finally, in the midst of the church, men representing two of the disciples, John and Peter, have come in, and, after receiving the news from the Marys, they literally race to the tomb. The conclusion is the Te Deum, sung by all - an indication that the play was embedded in the Matins service on Easter morning. This play was different from the Fleury Playbook version that we had seen at St. Jerome’s College chapel thirteen years before and that the Society for Old Music had performed.
Professional conferences are good places to meet people and to renew friendships that are often so important for professional life. Our friends from Leeds were there, but we also met others, for example George Szönyi from Hungary who would then invite Clifford to come to Budapest and Szeged University for a short stint as a visiting scholar when that country was still (very unwillingly) in the Eastern camp. I was not able to go, and had to arrange rides to get to my classes and some other help during his time away. But Clifford brought back music for two liturgical music-dramas from Hungary that we were able to use at a later time. I remember an intense conversation with Father Gerard Farrell, monk of the Benedictine abbey near St. Cloud and then permanently on loan to Westminister Choir College, on a bus as we were going up to Trinity College for performances of a morality and a Robin Hood play, the latter directed by the talented David Parry of Toronto and played on the college green. And, though we had met Alan Fletcher previously when he was at Leeds, we now had a chance to cement our friendship in spite of his busy schedule with the colloquium.
Later in the decade we met others at conferences who became important in our lives. In 1983 at Perpignan, where the dominant language seemed to be Catalan, we stayed at a seedy but delightful hotel (one corner of the bed in our room was propped up by a block of wood) on the town square, across from the cathedral, which had a remarkable array of relics in a dusty chapel. While Nat Brockett, whom we had met at Fletcher Collins’ workshop in Virginia, brought a play from his college that was presented in the cathedral, otherwise the conference was situated at the university some distance away. Hans-Jürgen Diller and his wife, of Bochum in (then) West Germany, offered us rides that allowed us to avoid having to use taxis or public transportation. Afterward Hans-Jürgen came to our medieval Congress and spent some weeks as a visiting scholar at the Medieval Institute. Then to our surprise he dedicated his Cambridge University Press book on medieval English drama to Clifford and myself. But simple luck also might apply, as when we met the Japanese scholar Keiko Ikegami at the Penn Club in London. She too would later dedicate a book to us.
To return to 1982, in that year I organized a concert of pilgrim songs along with the music-drama Peregrinus from Beauvais Cathedral for the May Congress. This play, which remains one of my favorites, dramatizes two biblical episodes, first the incident in which two disciples, lamenting the death of Jesus, meet the risen Christ on the way to Emmaus and, not recognizing him since he is dressed as a pilgrim, invite him in to a meal. He blesses the food, and disappears from the table, whereupon they know who it was who had sat down with them. He then will appear again, in the second scene, when these two disciples are trying to convince Doubting Thomas that Christ has really risen. In the end he appears changed utterly, in our play in brilliant red and gold vestments over the simple robe that he had worn previously. The music is moving but less lyrical than the Sponsus and is adequately described as Gregorian chant, but for the final procession in the Cathedral of Christ the King I chose Salve feste dies, which is more “jazzy” and more appropriate for a processional. In the middle of this item, the audience was invited to sing along on the refrain, which may be translated: “Hail thee, festival day, glad feast that all ages shall hallow; day wherein, vanquishing hell, God to high heaven ascends.” As dramatic director, Clifford had the most trouble with deciding how to stage the disappearance from the table. It was agreed that there would be no way to do this if all three singers were facing out toward the audience. So the table was set up in front of the centrally-placed altar, with the disciples at each end and Christ seated behind it. When it came time for Christ to disappear, he simply slipped away while the disciples were concentrating on their food.
The pilgrim songs that I chose for the program included a conductus and a motet in honor of St. Thomas of Canterbury, the saint whose relics were to be venerated by Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims on the pilgrimage described in The Canterbury Tales. The conductus was reputed to have been composed only about three years after Thomas’ martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Then there was a set of songs from Montserrat in Spain taken from the marvelous Llibre Vermell, and another in honor of the apostle St. James, believed to be enshrined at Compostela. Some of these items one can easily imagine medieval pilgrims singing as they walked, often barefoot, across the countryside to venerate the saint - a pilgrimage that is still being done, as the medieval musical instrument expert Mary Remnant assured us in conversation during a visit to Kalamazoo. Then too “Palästinalied,” a crusade song by Walther von der Vogelweide, seems designed to be sung in expectation on the way to the Holy Land: “Only now I find myself contented; my sinful eye has seen the land, the holy ground that has at all times been praised most highly.” Finally, I programmed three cantigas, all focusing on miracles of the Virgin Mary, from the collection of Alfonso X el Sabio, who was given credit for writing them. One of the cantigas will surprise people today since it tells the tale of a pregnant abbess, whose shame was taken away by the merciful Virgin Mary. For these songs and for the play we used a variety of instruments, from medieval harp and fiddle to recorders and capped reeds as well as the marine trumpet, an exotic one-stringed instrument that makes a wonderfully raspy drone sound.
In the next season we performed music by English masters, mostly William Byrd and Henry Purcell, and, in the spring, early women composers, including work by Hildegard of Bingen (medieval) as well as Francesca Caccini, Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, and Isabella Leonarda (baroque), all of these masters of their craft. At this time I was particularly interested in Isabella, for I had obtained microfilms of her work from the very rare early editions so that I could make transcriptions. One of her psalm settings was a featured work on the program. But we also sneaked in some really fun pieces from the eighteenth or early nineteenth century by women only known as Mrs. Arkwright, Miss Abrams, and Mrs. Miles, whose titles are “Rose! thou art the sweetest flower,” “And must we part forevermore?” and “Brignall Banks.” I had found this quaint music and more in a dusty bin in a used-book shop in London near the British Museum. I can confess that I still have it stowed away in my piano bench. In the course of the year we were also invited to bring Peregrinus to the medieval drama colloquium at Viterbo, Italy. I had a grant from the American Society of Learned Societies, but we needed support for the singer-players, so we organized a fund raiser and applied for local grant money to cover their air fare. Once we arrived in Viterbo we were assured of lodging and food.
David Senecal as Jesus blessing the bread, with Disciples Rob Nicholson (left) and Nicholas Batch (right), in the Society for Old Music’s production of the medieval music-drama Peregrinus. Church of S. Maria Nuova, Viterbo, Italy, 1983. Performance photo.
There was a bad moment at the Rome airport when the skycap wanted to roll me down the stairs in my wheelchair. He had apparently done this with other passengers, but I of course refused, since I had no interest in being in an Italian hospital as an OI patient with multiple broken bones. I got out of my wheelchair, and the skycap got very angry, even starting to push the chair down the hallway without me. We shouted at him, and finally he turned around and returned. Then, after the train ride into the city, a taxi driver tried to charge us the equivalent of sixty dollars for a short ride from the station; he had let his meter run from his previous customers. I guess we soon enough recognized that we were in Italy, a country of contradictions, for another taxi driver gave us a ride without asking for pay, indeed even refusing to take a tip. We only had time for a brief stop at St. Peter’s and a walk along the exterior of the old city near Hadrian’s column. The next day, a Sunday, we went to Mass at S. Maria Maggiore, which visually was almost like a step into the Roman past, though we found the singing disap-pointing. Then we boarded the train with the other members of our troupe for Viterbo, which, we learned, was the town where popes vacationed during the Middle Ages when they wanted to escape the hot, humid, and unhealthy summers in Rome. Upon our arrival there, we gathered at the appointed place, then dispersed to our lodgings. Clifford and I were given a room with private bath in a very acceptable (though hardly luxury) hotel. As soon as we were settled, I asked directions to the Center for the Study of Medieval and Renaissance Theater, and was told that “it doesn’t exist.” This turned out to be true in a sense. The convener, Federico Doglio, was a professor at Rome and simply had political connections with the provincial government that allowed him to support conferences and publish books. Our support was certainly very generous, since we were given meal tickets to cover more than we could eat and drink. Further, there was an excursion on Wednesday that took us all around the province of Viterbo from Etruscan caves, to a medieval hill town, to a Renaissance palace, and to the highest point in the region, where a restaurant had prepared for us a feast unlike any we had ever eaten, all part of the generosity of the provincial govern-ment. We were famished, however, by the time that we reached the restaurant, and Tim Benedict, who would play the role of Doubting Thomas, had plaintively said that he was only hoping for a stop long enough someplace so he could have “a coke and a hamburger,” as if such fast food were available anywhere in Italy at that time. But we otherwise could not complain about our meals, which were always sumptuous and healthy. We could take our meal tickets to any number of restaurants, all of which were more or less accessible. Sometimes I needed to be helped over a step or two. At our favorite restaurant the owners had a dog which was able to open the door for entrances and exits, or so we believed. We never actually saw the dog do this, but Italy, we found, is a stimulus to the imagination.
We spent a good deal of time rehearsing and polishing our play, though it was not very long, only thirty-five minutes, in the church chosen for us. We were to present a twelfth-century music-drama in an eleventh-century church, S. Maria Nuova, appropriately in the Pellegrino district of the city where in medieval times pilgrims had lodged on their way through from the north to Rome or Jerusalem. The district still had many medieval buildings, and the cobblestone streets, which were difficult for wheelchair transport, created a picturesque appearance. The church itself is not large but has fine acoustics and, since it has side aisles, in spite of the presence of pews provided a good routing for processions. This was necessary because a large part of the play is done walking around on the way to Emmaus, which we placed in the raised chancel, and, of course, we wanted to have a splashy final procession, during which we sang Salve festa dies, around the nave. There were glorious thirteenth- and fourteenth-century frescoes in the nave that served as backdrop for various points in the action. Our Kalamazoo cast was joined in Rome by Nat Brockett, and we enlisted one further singer, Diana Wyatt, from England. But Clifford still had to sing with the chorus when he was not otherwise engaged, as of course I did myself throughout. In addition to Tim, the principals were David Senecal (Christ), Nick Batch (Cleopas), and Robert Nicholson (St. Luke). Rob’s wife Marilyn was a member of the chorus and played some brief instrumental parts on a wheezy and almost non-functioning electronic organ, disappointingly perhaps the worst “toaster” I have ever heard. It could not be left turned on because it would start spontaneously to make crackling sounds after a few short minutes. Fortunately, we were able to have Nick, who had brought his recorder, fill in at one or two points. The play was scheduled for Thursday evening, 14 July 1983, as bright yellow posters posted all around the city proclaimed.
In the meantime, there were other performances, beginning with a Herod play by a troupe from Rome in the cloisters of S. Maria della Verità on the opening night of the colloquium. They had built an elaborate structure for Herod’s palace that seemed artificial against the stonework of the cloister, and they had a real donkey for the escape of the Child Jesus and his parents to Egypt. Unfortun-ately, on this night there had been a decision by the colloquium convener to make a videotape of the performance. As the donkey was crossing through the audience on the way to Egypt, the trio was being followed behind by the camera, which overloaded the electrical circuitry. The lights went out, darkness descended - hardly the right effect. Yet I was impressed with the singing and also with much of the acting, to the point when there was an opportunity to return on Friday evening for a reprise, without the video camera, we went. Another impressive performance was presented by a pair of performers from Madrid who had revived an ancient form of semi-dramatic recitation and song, accompanying depictions of miracles of the Virgin in large illustrations, which were changed as the stories progressed. Of course, the performances were taking place against the background of scholarly presentations, of which mine would be a well-received paper on the music of Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum, a play that I was planning to perform.
On Thursday morning we were to have a video tape made of our performance, since I had forbidden cameras from being present during the actual performance in the evening. This turned out to be a day-long struggle. The electricity in the church was inadequate for the one video camera that the crew brought, so arrangements had to be made to bring a cable in from the street in front of the church. This took until 11:00 a.m. Then, with the single camera, the crew under the direction of Miriam Chiabò had to split the play into pieces and film segments from different angles. We had lighted the candles in the chancel, and hence taking different segments at somewhat arbitrary times meant that the candles in the final version changed up and down in length as they burned, but not in the sequence consistent with the progress of the play. The members of the crew agitated for a chance to smoke, for being inside a church did not seem to matter to them. Their director and I insisted that tobacco smoke was bad for the singers, and we prevailed except that one young man, late in the filming, yanked out a cigarette and said, “Just one” as he sat down in the middle of the nave to light up a cigarette. What could we do? It was good that this was not when a French woman came by to visit the church and was offended anyway that we were not treating holy space with sufficient respect. We explained that we had permission, and that doing a play involved giving directions and a certain amount of talking. I do not think she was satisfied, but she left. After all the effort, the final result was not the professional video for which we had hoped.
The presentation for the members of the colloquium and others was delayed until around 9:00 p.m., I think because Professor Doglio had organized an unscheduled viewing of some of his films of early drama. I had my chorus, except for Clifford when he had to serve as an acolyte at the meal or as crucifer, with me situated at all times in the front pew. Things went relatively smoothly, though there was one serious hitch. To be sure, the disciples and Jesus had to navigate around an overflow crowd standing in the aisles, but a real crisis appeared at the moment when the bread was to be broken at the table. We had bought two loaves from a bakery on a nearby street that day. The one used for the video taping had broken easily, but this loaf was unusually difficult to break, so when the choir sang the Latin words meaning “he took the bread, blessed it, and broke it, and passed it out to them [the two disciples],” David Senecal, who was playing the role of Jesus, missed his cue (“fregit”) since the loaf failed to cooperate. There was a little delay while the choir sang on, but fairly rapidly he recovered and was able to break away the pieces of bread to hand out. For the final procession we turned up the lights to their brightest so that the audience could join in the singing.
When the colloquium was concluded, we took the train to Florence, for I had never seen Brunelleschi’s masterpiece, the cathedral dome, with my own eyes, or Ghiberti’s doors for the Baptistry, or the Italian masters in the Uffizi, especially paintings such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, which I had taught innumerable times. It was nearby, at the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, that we met Dom Argento and his wife, of whom I have made mention above. We were staying in the Minerva Hotel, which in those days was expensive but not confiscatory - and it had air conditioning, so we were protected from the gnats which seem to infest Florence at night.
On Sunday we attended Mass at S. Maria Novella, where I was impressed by the tight-throat singing, so different from the bel canto style; this was the tone that felt right for Renaissance Carnival songs as well as other music from Florence. I imagined that it was the kind of singing that would have been familiar to Lorenzo the Magnificent, the most cultured of the Medicis. The church also possessed spectacular religious art, including a crucifix by Giotto and a fresco of the Trinity by Masaccio, surrounded by classical columns and on account of his use of perspective almost as three-dimensional as a carving. In the Spanish Chapel, we stared at the terrifying demons in the scene below the Passion, while on another wall St. Thomas of Aquinas looked down on us.
We visited the Academia since it was open that Sunday afternoon. This is the gallery where so many tourists simply trot over to gape at Michelangelo’s David and then leave. At least those who waited and then traipsed briefly to the back of the gallery were not so crass as the tourists who came to the city merely for the flea market. Our stay in Florence was all too short before we had to board the train for Milan en route to the airport and a flight to Paris. It must have been at Milan that the lock on my suitcase was broken open and my luggage rifled, but nothing taken. I was not a rich American carrying expensive jewelry or furs. It was on this visit to Paris that Clifford and I went down to Chartres, but we remembered vividly a previous time when we drank wine at a place on the Champs-Elysées. We were with Rose Marie Janzen, who remarked, I think in polite Parisian disapproval, when we raised a toast and touched glasses, “Do Americans click?” She presented me with a copy of Polyphonie that had belonged to her friend Jean Barraqué. This number of the journal dealt with rhythm, relevant to my work then on Messiaen; I was supposed to share it with Joyce Chaplin, the keyboard person with whom I so often worked in concerts of the Society for Old Music.
Our brief stay in London was less than happy, since Clifford had a cold and my wheelchair developed a problem. He took it to a shop in north London where we had gone before, but failed to get it fixed properly. This was before Rosemary Heaword, whom we had met at a play - a National Theater production of Georg Büchner’s Danton’s Death at one of the theaters on St. Martin’s Lane - some years before, introduced us to the Covent Garden Bicycle Shop much closer by. At least our lodgings in London were more congenial than earlier since we would now stay at the Penn Club on Bedford Place, close enough to the British Museum that I could manage, with only a little help, to get to the library myself, as I did when Clifford was doing research on the early art of Coventry and the medieval county of Warwickshire. There had been changes, including a better lift in front of the museum, but the most convenient entrance for me would still be the north entrance, which would not, unfortunately, open until 10:00 a.m. The lavatory for disabled readers was in the museum, across from the Rosetta Stone, which I thus passed several times daily. I think this was a year in which we may have seen no more than one play, and no concerts as such, though I know we were able to hear music at one of our favorite churches on Sunday mornings. Usually we did better. We saw operas when available in the summer at both Covent Garden and the National Opera, and these included not only spectacular productions of Peter Maxwell-Davies’ Taverner and Wagner’s Lohengren (though the plexiglass swan seemed a long time a-coming in this production) but also English-language versions of Carmen and The Magic Flute, the latter absolutely delightful. We heard early music whenever possible, most memorably in the 1970s by David Munrow and his consort. I don’t think I have ever been as impressed with a countertenor as with James Bowman, who had got stuck in the London traffic on the way to the Christopher Wren church of St. Vedast, arrived at the last minute, and yet turned out a spectacular performance. I should mention that on account of my disability we always had to take taxis in London, usually, it seemed, with friendly drivers who always knew where they were going and never cheated us. The London cabs in those days were easy for me to enter, with a bit of gentle help from Clifford or somebody else.
My summer research over the 1980s was largely focused on music for use in concerts or in church, though I always tried to keep in mind learning about matters that would be useful in my teaching. In 1983, my main interest was Hildegard, since, as noted above, I had every intention of mounting a production of her music-drama. When I received the microfilm of the Wiesbaden manuscript, I would realize that it would be necessary to make an entirely fresh transcription of the neumes. Her notation was of course a form that was common enough in the twelfth century prior to the advent of square-note notation, but to non-specialists it looked like hen scratchings. Even Drew Minter, a colleague at Vassar College and a fine musician, wrote to me about his amazement that I could figure it out. But the system is not really all that arcane, if one has the key, with the only disadvantage being that I had to work from the microfilm and would be delayed in seeing the actual manuscript until some years after my production and the subsequent performing edition, now, however, issued in a second edition by the Hildegard Publishing Company, specialists in publishing music by women composers.
The production of the Ordo Virtutum for both the community and the International Congress on Medieval Studies took place in May 1984 with dramatic direction once more by Clifford. We advertised the production as the American premiere, and the turnout for the Congress performance filled the Cathedral of Christ the King. In spite of the doubling of parts, we had a larger cast than usual. All principals involved singing roles except the Devil, played by Nick Batch, who wore a bear-like fur garment, even black gloves, and roared unmusically since in Hildegard’s view the Devil was not capable of either melody or harmony. Fay Smith played the Soul, who naughtily erred as she slipped away with an interpolated character, Mundus, and who then returned to the circle of the Virtues at the end with her garments tattered and torn and dirty. The Devil, the enemy of all goodness, was now chained up, and Victory sang, “Rejoice, the old serpent has been bound.” Chastity then stomped on his head and proclaimed that his “belly has been confounded.” The queen of the Virtues is Pride’s opposite, Humility, who had a crown and presided over the entire play. I myself sang the role of Fear of God from my wheelchair, though admittedly it hardly looked like something that would have been available in the twelfth century. Costumes were fairly simple of necessity but each was inspired in some way by the designs in Hildegard’s Scivias. The staging has been described quite fully in Clifford’s article in the book I later edited, Hildegard of Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum: Critical Essays, which also includes my technical description of the music as well as other discussions of various aspects of the play. Barbara Thornton and Sequentia, who staged the play at Cologne and made their first recording of it, slightly preceded our production and at about the same time were becoming a sensation. Hildegard was someone I could import to my women’s studies courses, no matter how secular some of the die-hard students happened to be.
By way of a change, in the fall the Society presented a program of early American, Michigan, and Kalamazoo music. This came out of a discussion over lunch at our house with local businessman and philanthropist Irving Gilmore, who encouraged me to include some early popular music along with more serious works such as the Moravian Johann C. Geisler’s “How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings.” I visited the local museum and archives, while the University music library also had something to contribute. Nick Batch transcribed three trumpet tunes from The Sacred Harp, the famous tune book of 1844. There were three temperance songs, including “Cheer, All Cheer, or the Union Prohibition Battle Cry,” “’Twas Rum That Spoiled My Boy,” and “Set Down That Glass,” the latter by a composer named Supply Belcher, who lived at the time of the American Revolution. Quite amusing was a song entitled “Let the Songbirds Live!” by someone named A. W. Ulrich from nearby Mendon, Michigan. This, dated 1929, was advertised as the most recent of the items on the program. But one of the local com-positions, I must confess, was a fake. I found the text in the University archives, and set it to music in the style of the period in which it was written. Until now only Clifford has known my secret.
For the next May, I chose music of quite a different sort, from Central and Eastern Europe by such composers as Johannes of Lublin, Thomas Stolzer, and Johannes Nucius. But I also included another Visit to the Sepulcher, in this instance the one from Hungary that Clifford had brought back in 1982, followed by a Magnificat by Mikhaij Radomski from Poland, and a Hungarian Tractus Stellae (Play of the Star) that George Szönyi had given to us. Nick Batch as the first Magi, guided by the star suspended from the balcony of the Cathedral of Christ the King, led the travelers (on foot) to the court of Herod, played by Peter Lewis, who was of course the surly monarch of tradition. His anger at receiving solid and honest advice may remind people of many of the world’s rulers whom they have observed in our own time. For Mary and the Child we obtained the loan of a sculpture, an image lent to us by the rector of St. Martin’s who had purchased it at the ancient pilgrimage site of Walsingham. The image was treated as if it were the persons represented and was attended by two midwives, who appeared in tradition long before the fifteenth century. There was no distinction here between the two, unlike in some cases when one is a believer and the other a skeptic who insists on a gynecological examination, at which point her hand is withered - but then restored by miracle.
Amateur musicians usually take a long time for rehearsals if they are to do a creditable job at performance time. But I was terrifically pleased to be invited to present a concert of the music of Heinrich Schütz for the Bach Festival at Kalamazoo College with only a single month of rehearsals to work up choral pieces from a range of Schütz’s corpus, and these included some really wonderful compositions that I had long wanted to see presented. I don’t think that anything can be more beautiful than his Wer will uns scheiden, which has the text “Who shall separate us from the love of God? . . . Neither death nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God.” An even more exciting occasion for me came when I was invited to direct a small group of singers in the Swedish St. John Passion at the Chapel of the Cross at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul under the sponsorship of the Friends of Minnesota Music, which had also published the Festschrift for Johannes Riedel. Clifford had been asked to show a few slides and explain the development of Passion in art, especially the trend toward emotional and graphic depiction of Jesus’ suffering, and there was an organ offering of small Swedish preludes, played by organist Steve Westcott. My little chorus was absolutely professional and had rehearsed in advance, so when I came to town I only had to coach them in interpretation, not in note reading, as would be the case, for example, with my church choir. The singer who sang the role of the Evangelist, Kevin Baum, later became a member of the highly acclaimed vocal ensemble Chaunticleer, which is indeed a peregrinating troupe with much of the year spent on the road.
Other concerts were mounted in more humble surroundings, as when we did medieval Christmas carols and other Christmas music in 1986 at little St. Martin of Tours Church, where of course I was also music director for so many years. For the Society’s twentieth anniversary concert, however, we returned to the Cathedral of Christ the King, and here we repeated some of our favorites, such as the chant Alma redemptoris mater (“Gracious mother of the Redeemer”), the antiphon in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary that will be remembered as the little clergeon’s song in Chaucer’s Prioress’ Tale, and again songs from the Carmina Burana manuscript as well as cantigas attributed to Alfonso X El Sabio and a selection of renaissance songs and madrigals. After the interval, I programed some American songs, beginning with William Billings’ Chester and two trumpet songs edited by Nick Batch, and some Renaissance and baroque songs and motets. The final work on this program was Isabella Leonarda’s Laetatus sum, which I had edited from the original part books and which was given its earliest Ameri-can performance. Isabella was a nun from Novara, Italy, and was a very competent composer, even if her notation in the part books could sometimes be baffling.
In 1987 it was time for a repeat of the Sponsus from St. Martial of Limoges, this time with Clifford as dramatic director. After an introductory section and an interval, we began Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent in chairs set up to resemble the seating in a monastic church. For the medieval Congress, the audience was invited to sing along with the hymn Creator alme siderum (“Creator of the stars of night”), but otherwise the psalms, done in medieval psalm tone, and antiphons were sung entirely by our troupe. I was seated in my wheelchair in a position so that I could “wave” my hands and keep the music together. Then we began the Sponsus, as it will be recalled a music-drama that ends with the foolish virgins being repulsed by the Bridegroom, Jesus, and told “I know you not. Because you lack the lamp-oil, take yourselves and your lamps away from this regal door.” A painted hellmouth that Clifford created was hanging over the door to the liturgical north; this is what awaited the foolish ones, while the wise were welcomed by the Sponsus or Bridegroom into the great wedding feast of recon-ciliation and joy. The antiphon Ne timeas Maria (“Do not fear, Mary”) was followed by other responses and songs, including the Magnificat.
Then in the fall I was anxious to break some new ground again with a set of wonderful St. Nicholas plays from the Fleury Playbook. In one of the plays, the saint rescues three boys from a pickling tub after their murder by a wicked innkeeper and his wife, and in the other he provides dowries to three young women from an impoverished family to keep them from having to resort to prostitution for a living. The event was designated as a St. Nicholas day celebration. Then the spring brought a set of plays and ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter from medieval Sweden. Wind Forest, the instrumental ensemble which had performed in so many of our concerts, was again present for a prelude of Swedish music, and then we sang a set that was comprised of the beautiful Brigittine antiphon Rosa rorans, by Nikolaus Hermansson, selections form Piae Cantiones, the first music book published in Scandinavia (in 1582), and two early Swedish hymns. Cathedral organist Donalee Williams played a pair of pieces by Buxtehude. Further pieces by Olaus Rudbeckius, Vincenzio Albrici (for whom Sweden was an adopted country), and Gustav Düben completed the first section of the concert. These I had found in Swedish libraries and collections, except Rosa rorans (“Rose which droppeth goodness down on us, / Star, whose brightness leadeth us, / Hail Birgitta, vessel of grace”), which had been given to me by Sister Patricia at Vadstena, where I had of course visited several times. In the monastery at Vadstena was where Birgitta’s relics had been deposited, along with those of her daughter St. Catherine, in the fourteenth century. They are now in the Vadstena parish church, which is of course officially Lutheran but filled with an impressive array of religious art, including two large images of St. Birgitta herself. With Clifford’s help, I studied how the medieval church designed by Birgitta was laid out liturgically, and considered how the Holy Week and Easter ceremonies and music-dramas would have appeared and sounded. We know not only that they were performed here but also that some of the ceremonies survived into the twentieth century. So I was informed by my friend Sister Patricia, who told of a special rite of “burying” a large image of Christ in a sepulcher after carefully preparing it as if it were a person especially beloved to them. Patricia, originally from New Zealand and widowed two weeks into her marriage, had first joined the Brigittine convent in Holland. At first very unhappy, she knew that she had found her place in life when she began to study and perform the ancient Brigittine music, on which she is expert. At that time the Swedish nuns in the order had no convent in Sweden, and indeed had not been present in the country since they were expelled in 1595 in a virulent outbreak of Protestantism, long after the official break with Rome. In the 1960s they returned and built a new church, and also began offering bed and breakfast to provide a living for themselves. Unfortunately, the lodgings were not accessible, so Sister Patricia found alternate rooms for us on the occasions when we visited, and then we ate breakfast at the convent each day. Here we met congenial people such as Flemming and Birgit Poulsen from Denmark, who would later invite us to visit them at their home in Stuby, near Vordinborg. They took us to visit a church nearby where the famous Danish hymn writer Nikolai Gruntvig had spent his childhood and where his father was pastor. I could not resist allowing myself to be lifted up onto the bench to play the organ, which was truly a fine little instrument. We have on our wall a lovely woodcut image of St. Birgitta that was created by Flemming.
Other friends in Sweden were of course very helpful to me in my research, and these, among others, include Viveca Servatius, whom I had met years before at the Royal Library, and Gunilla Iversen, whose article also on the purpose and performance of Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum in the Early Drama, Art, and Music Review would supersede the speculations presented in the book of criticism on this play that I edited. It was Viveca who insisted initially that I must go to Vadstena, as indeed was necessary in any case in order to see a manuscript of the Swedish Passion, and I am indebted to her for some ideas concerning how Gregorian chant should be performed. When her Gregorian Singers were still performing on Sundays at the Roman Cathedral in Stockholm, I had occasion once to sing with them to fill out the group. Singing the psalms in Swedish was a bit of a problem for me since the words need to trip easily off the tongue, but the majority of the chants were in Latin. We sang the Missa Angelis, which is a truly beautiful Gregorian Mass, from the balcony.
Our May 1988 concert, then, concluded with the ceremonies and Easter play mentioned above. Catherine Niessink, who had sung with the Society for many years, was Mary Magdalen, and David Senecal, who was now also singing with the St. Martin of Tours Church choir, was one of the angels at the tomb. At about this time I also was completing my edition of the Holy Week and Easter ceremonies and plays from Sweden, which now would be tested by performance so that I could feel more confident concerning them. Interestingly, though I had taken Clifford down into the cold temperature-controlled lower depths of the Royal Archives in Stockholm to search for more examples, I had turned up none, but not long thereafter Nils Holger Petersen was able to make a surprising find of yet another Swedish Visit to the Sepulcher - a sign that there might be more among the uncatalogued fragments that had been torn from medieval service books to serve as covers for military and provincial records. At the time I was working in Stockholm, there was surprisingly little interest in these frag-mentary holdings. I like to think that I had a role in bringing these back to attention, for they are now being properly listed so as to be available in the future to both researchers and performers. After my book was published, there was a showing of fragments and service books in the Medieval Museum in Stockholm that would also receive a very fine exhibit catalogue entitled Helgerånet från Mässböcker till Munkepärmar, which contains essays by scholars with like interests, including my friends Viveca and Ann-Marie Nilsson.
There was another interest that I would like to have pursued more and that had occupied both Clifford and myself when in Sweden. Our curiosity had been piqued by a visit to the musical instrument museum in Stockholm, then located near the royal palace in the old city, in the 1970s when I went there to look at a manuscript. Two or three times we were fortunate to be able to have a pilgrimage around Skåna with my relatives Bengt and Gertrud Hernsell in order to search for musical instruments depicted in wall paintings. The most exciting was the trip we made with them from Limhamn, a suburb of Malmö, where they live across the province to the Baltic coast and up into Blekinge, where we visited with Bengt’s sister Gurli in her country house. She was then very old and somewhat disabled already, so the Swedish government would give her transport to Blekinge by taxi at the price of train fare. But along the way we had stopped at various sites, including Kiaby, where my grandfather’s family had lived. The tidy little church with its twelfth-century font would have been where my ancestors were baptized, and the churchyard where they were buried. Kiaby itself had fine medieval wall paintings, as I have mentioned above, and these include depictions of an organ and a lute player. At Fulltofta, for example, there were a fine devil trumpeter (probably meant to be a rather incompetent musician) and an angel playing a trump at the Last Judgment. The wall paintings at Fjälkinge showed an entire orchestra. A Devil horn player appeared with the damned, and there were trumpets and an organ. When we were in Sweden for the final time, Bengt and Gertrud invited us to stay with them, and this in retrospect was a precious time since, unknown to me, I would not be able to return again to the land of my forefathers and fore-mothers. Their home was very near the ferry landing, so we were able easily to slip across to Denmark, where we met up with Brian McGuire, the expert on St. Bernard, and his colleagues at Copen-hagen University. We also could conveniently go back from their house to the library at the University of Lund, where I had worked several times in the past. Bengt is an architect, recently retired when we were there. Interestingly, the ambience of their house is not so different from ours, though I am afraid with our scholarly activities ours has always been more cluttered.
After my peregrination to the School of Music, I would teach courses very much more congenial to me, and would have fewer complaining students like one who cried on my desk. When I told him to stop crying and asked him if he wanted “to be treated like a baby,” he said, “Yes, treat me like a baby.” Music courses assigned to me included ethnomusicology, at last an opportunity to use professionally the knowledge that I had acquired at the University of Minnesota. I had previously gone on my own to meetings of the American Musicological Society, only in one case reading a paper, at Denver. For my final AMS conference I was able to travel with colleagues; this event was at New Orleans, where I even dared to take a river boat cruise on the Mississippi. One of the others on the cruise was Don Franklin, one of the three musicologists (including myself and Lowell Lindgren) from Willmar, Minnesota. I chalk it up to my broadmindedness that I took in both Preservation Hall and a Zydeco virtuoso, Dewey Balfa, who was famous for performing Cajun music.
Eventually I would also team up with the Collegium Musicum, directed by Matthew Steel, in the fall of 1989 in a concert featuring Carissimi’s oratorio Historie di Jephte but also including other works such as William Lawes’ Suite from The Royal Consort, played by the instrumental ensemble. That same season the Society had as its guest performer Penelope Crawford, the fine fortepianist from Ann Arbor, and additionally, together with Wind Forest, my troupe presented a concert for students at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids at Fountain Street Church. In the spring we returned to Cistercian music since this was the anniversary of St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s birth eight hundred years previously. Again the Cister-cian Institute was a co-sponsor of the concert, which concluded with office music of 1635 from a Swiss congregation of nuns and choral music by contemporary Cistercians.
I expected to be able to continue as director of the Society until age sixty-five at least, so I had no idea that my tenure would be coming to an end and another segment of my life’s journey would be beginning. Again with the Collegium Musicum and Matt Steel’s assistance with instruments, the Society staged the Beauvais Play of Daniel, the same play that would serve almost as the swan song of the troupe before finally the non-profit corporation was disbanded. On this occasion, as for the final performance, Clifford served as dramatic director, so the 2002 production may in turn be seen as his swan song. With grant support from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and from Irving Gilmore, a fairly elaborate production was possible. It will be recalled that Irving was the inspiration for one of our concerts in which early American music was made also to include some popular songs, even from local sources. I was always grateful to him since he was not only a dear friend but also a strong supporter of early music. He would phone up and ask if I needed $500 or $5000, and of course I always chose the lower figure as covering our needs, even if I had to do some subsidizing myself. A modest man who lived a simple “lifestyle,” he was a graduate of Yale University, where he had studied piano with a distinguished teacher. He would come to our house for lunch and, wearing twenty-year-old off-the-rack suits from his department store, would criticize Clifford’s taste in clothing. Productions such as the Daniel and many others could not have been possible without his support, and in addition he was always in the audience. Nor was he alone in his support. Edwin and Mary Upjohn Meader faithfully continued to be patrons of the Society up to the end.
In August 1990 I had passed my sixtieth birthday, and one night in March of the next year I woke up in bed in the middle of the night with a spontaneous fracture of my left leg. The Society had sponsored a concert by the Battle Creek Boychoir in an Anglican Evensong of the time of Queen Elizabeth I the previous month. The spring concert of baroque music, again with the Collegium Musicum, had to go on without me. Fortunately, rehearsals were well underway by the time of my fracture. And of course I had to take sick leave and was not able to return to students that I had particularly enjoyed during this semester. The leg, apparently weakened because of all the years that I had favored it in order to spare my right leg, which had always been the weaker, had snapped in a spot where the only solution would be to have a hip replacement, which the local orthopod could not do in this case. It was clear that my bone density had become a serious problem. Still, with help from Dr. William Mundell, whose specialty was internal medicine, I was able to control other factors, including high blood pressure, and in the fall I taught a reduced load of two classes. When I needed to go to the lavatory at the music building, Clifford would need to drop everything to come over to help lift me onto the toilet. My colleagues were very good about our knocking on the faculty ladies’ room to see that all was clear, then about not minding that we would block the door open so that we could enter and not shock someone who might inadvertently come in. However, I continued to work with the Society for Old Music. Yet I was able to do less and less for the Society, though I did organize concerts by other performers, including a fine presentation of organ and instrumental music by organist Betty Pursley and the Wind Forest early instrument ensemble at the Cathedral of Christ the King. In the fall of 1992 Matt Steel and I collaborated on preparing a concert of early music of the New World to celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in America, but Matt of course had to conduct. In December I wrote to all the Society’s members and supporters to resign from the position as musical director. I thanked both those who had performed and those who contributed in other ways, including financial, for their loyalty over the years. At this time also Edwin Meader resigned as board chairman of the non-profit corporation after long service. He had been elected board chairman when the Society was first in-corporated as a non-profit in the state of Michigan. The Society was to continue, sometimes with vigor but often sputtering, yet offering some interesting programs and bringing in guest artists. The highs included the visit of recorder player Bob van Asperen and Marion Verbruggan, a concert which I could not attend. But Bob practiced on my harpsichord at the house, and then sang with my church choir at St. Martin’s on Sunday when we presented “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” the beautiful anthem by Thomas Tallis. This work represents the high standard of Elizabethan church music, and, along with “Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake” at-tributed to “Farrant” (maybe the rascal John Farrant of Salisbury, though some believe it to have been written by John Hilton), is my favorite. Other highs among the concerts sponsored by the Society were soprano Rosa Lamoreaux and the ensemble Hesperus in a recital of Hildegard songs; a guest appearance directing the Society’s singers, augmented by talented students from the University, by Dr. Joe Miller of the School of Music; and, of course, the final staging of the Beauvais Daniel, with Eric Strand as music director and, as noted above, Clifford as dramatic director. I perhaps should mention that Clifford and I produced a short history of medieval music-drama productions by the Society under the title Performing Medieval Music Drama in 1998, so this will be a resource for those interested in further details, though not of course about the 2002 Daniel. When after thirty-seven years the Society for Old Music was disbanded and the corporation dissolved, I think everyone felt comfortable about the fact that it had served the community, and the medieval Congress at the University, long and well. Its remaining financial assets were transferred to the Audrey Ekdahl Davidson Early Music Endowment to cover modest scholar-ships for student assistance for the Collegium Musicum.
I officially retired from the University in 1993 and was granted the permanent title of Professor of Music Emerita. The School of Music held a very nice reception for me, and presented me with a compact disk, a reissue of the Detroit Symphony recording of the Three Nocturnes, including the Sirens, the chorus for which, it will be recalled, I had a part in preparing many years ago. I also received a gift of jewelry, an elaborate Norwegian silver brooch that I treasure. Finally, to my complete surprise, the state representative from this district, Mary Brown, entered in a wheelchair (she had been injured) to present a framed certificate of appreciation from the Michigan legislature which said that I had been “an example to all.” I think this is the path that I always wanted to walk, figura-tively of course, but coming to this point surprised me. I then had to pass onward in life as best I could.