Saturday morning quotes 6.13: Assumptions III
Today we return to the modern world after having had a welcome vacation from the internet—and an unwelcome vacation from electric fans and such—after experiencing a power outage lasting three full days of weather featuring days and nights of incessant heat and humidity. This sort of summertime weather-related inconvenience tends to cause some people to become rather choleric, but we are the forgiving type and we press on with our characteristic optimism tempered by an open-eyed acknowledgement of reality.
Monday August 15th is Donna’s birthday and also marks the Feast of the Assumption, an important day in the liturgical calendar. But the entire weekend is also given over to an intense carnival atmosphere that consumes the Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland. Celebration of the Feast of the Assumption, which one of us calls the “Feast of the Consumption”, features activities involving fried food and vats of alcohol, a full-service gambling casino in the basement of the Church of the Holy Rosary, and very, very loud canned music pulsating from behind a banner that reads “Disco Inferno”. Interesting way to celebrate a religious holiday.
For those of you interested in music for voice and lute, we offer our score of a piece composed specifically for the historical Feast of the Assumption by Gregor Aichinger (1561-1628), an organist who served the famous Fugger family of Augsberg. The pdf also includes our edition of a score of the three-voice motet for those of you interested in seeing how vocal music is readily adapted for solo voice and lute, an instrument which can easily handle the lower two voices.
When lute enthusiasts a see reference to the Fugger family, they immediately think of the famous collection of surviving lutes and the historical inventory of instruments, as described by Douglas Alton Smith in the article “The Musical Instrument Inventory of Raymund Fugger”, The Galpin Society Journal Vol. 33 (Mar., 1980), pp. 36-44. The renowned historical luthier, Sixtus Rauchwolff, or Rauwolff, (c. 1556 – 1629), apparently also worked for the Fuggers, and examples of his work survive in the Metropolitan Museum collection of instruments, and have even been restored and put into playing condition, as in the example by the late Stephen Gottlieb.
The Fuggers were heavily involved in banking and were historically significant for having accumulated a great deal of wealth through the brutal practice of usury, setting an example for managing wealth that is still in modern practice:
“Divide your fortune into four equal parts: stocks, real estate, bonds and gold coins. Be prepared to lose on one of them most of the time. During inflation, you will lose on bonds and win on gold and real estate; during deflation, you lose on real estate and win on bonds, while your stocks will see you through both periods, though in a mixed fashion. Whenever performance differences cause a major imbalance, rebalance your fortunes back to the four equal parts.”
– Jacob Fugger the Rich, 1459-1525
Through their banking empire the Fuggers had a stranglehold on the European economy throughout the sixteenth century and, while the Fuggers have a lasting reputation as patrons of the arts, were they really authentic and generous patrons? Or were they self-aggrandizing narcissists who owned an enormous pile of instruments? There is a difference, and we should refrain from making assumptions without delving more deeply into history. That’s why we’re here.