Antonio Chemotti

Antonio Chemotti

Andrew W Mellon Fellow
‘Dolce, ma grave, e mesta melodia’. Music and Emotion in Post-Tridentine Liturgies Pro Mortuis
Portrait photo of Antonio Chemotti


Antonio Chemotti studied at the Faculty of Musicology at the University of Pavia, where he received his Master’s degree in 2013, having produced a critical edition of the Kyrie settings in the manuscript Trent 93. From 2013 to 2016, he held a position as research fellow at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. As a member of the Munich doctoral program MIMESIS, he wrote a doctoral dissertation that examined early modern polyphonic music for the liturgy for the dead. From 2016 to 2019, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the HERA Project “Sound Memories: The Musical Past in Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Europe,” working on the musical culture of early modern Silesia. He is based at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences.


Project Summary

This project investigates the relation between music and emotions in liturgical celebrations pro mortuis in post-Tridentine Italy (c. 1560–1630), studying the ways in which the affetti connected to the soundscape of the liturgy were constructed, understood, and verbalized. The idea that music could “indurre l’huomo in diverse passioni” (Zarlino) is omnipresent in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century music theory: this project seeks to identify a related yet different culture of musical emotionality, one that could also be cultivated by educated but not ‘professional’ listeners. To that end, it will focus on written sources that address the soundscape of the liturgical celebration but were not intended for readers versed in music and/or music theory. Furthermore, analysis of selected comparable accounts produced outside the Italian peninsula will reveal whether the culture of musical emotionality that emerges from Italian Catholic sources was specific or belonged to an emotional koine that transcended linguistic and confessional borders. In turn, this research will enable a more detailed understanding of the affective potential of music pro mortuis, which nowadays is often performed but whose ‘stylistic restraint’ bemuses modern listeners accustomed to the overt expressiveness of secular genres such as the madrigal and the early opera.