Music, knowledge, faith and reform in the thought and practice of Robert Grosseteste and J. S. Bach

Gardner, Owain (2023) Music, knowledge, faith and reform in the thought and practice of Robert Grosseteste and J. S. Bach. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis seeks to see how far our knowledge of J. S. Bach’s (1685–1750) religious music and musical method can be further illuminated in light of early Franciscan writings on scientia and music, especially the works of Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168–1253), and so also further consider the impact Bishop Robert had on an aspect of Christian thought and practice in Europe down to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A key figure in the high Middle Ages, in medieval scholasticism, and latterly the diplomatic life of medieval England Grosseteste may not appear to be an immediately obvious candidate for linking to the orthodox Lutheran Bach. But the fact remains that the least-explored area of Grosseteste’s thought is found in his conception of music – certainly by comparison with his philosophical, theological and scientific thought. As such each chapter considers a specific part of the nature of music in Grosseteste’s vision for the pastoral life of Lincoln Cathedral and the largest diocese in medieval England.

Having established Grosseteste’s very personal view of music’s role in temporal life, we move on to find connections to Bach through ideas such as Beverley Clack’s redefinition of homo religiosus, Martin Luther’s reforming mission (alongside that of his collaborators Bugenhagen and Melanchthon) and come to a view of Bach the orthodox Lutheran. The final chapter considers the idea of the extent to which – through the lens of the duties of a medieval master of theology: legere (to teach), disputare (to hold disputations) and praedicare (to preach) – we could describe Bach’s working method as being similar to Grosseteste’s own, indeed Grosseteste could be described as one of the Bachian working method’s progenitors as there are enough connections between the two men to suggest that this idea is indeed a plausible one.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Davies, Dr. John R. and Butt, Professor John
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83839
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 12:06
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 12:09
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83839

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