Music and Ritual for the Dead Imagined in The Belles Heures and The Mourners

Two concurrent exhibitions of works from fifteenth-century France display works commissioned by the royal members of the Valois family: the alabaster mourner figures from the tomb John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife, Margaret of Bavaria, and the pages of the Belles Heures (1405 - 1408/9) of Jean de Berry. The Belles Heures, a book of hours (or a personal prayer book meant to bring its readers closer to God), is one of the most celebrated and lavishly illustrated manuscripts in this country. Both represent and imagine liturgical actions, perhaps suggesting a desire of the noble Valois to partake in the liturgy that is usually the purview of the monks and other members of the clergy. This demonstration of exquisite mourning music, requiems, and chants, led by Richard Porterfield, includes discussions about the role of music in the act of fifteenth-century mourning, remembering the dead, and in laying them to rest.

Richard Porterfield, instructor, Mannes College, and founding member of Lionheart

Made possible with support of the Schola Cantorum of Mannes College.

Learn more about the exhibition The Art of Illumination:

Learn more about the exhibition The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy:

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