Mirrors of heaven or worldly theaters? Venetian nunneries and their music

Jonathan E. Glixon

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This book explores the musical world of the nuns of Venice and its lagoon, concentrating on the period from the sixteenth century to the fall of Venice around 1800. It looks at sacred music performed both by the nuns themselves and by professional musicians they employed. Following a historical introduction, the book considers the nuns as collective patrons, both of musical performances by professionals in their external churches, primarily for the annual feast of the patron saint, a notable attraction for both Venetians and foreign visitors, and of musical instruments, namely organs and bells. Next, the study examines the rituals and accompanying music for the transitions in a nun's life, most importantly the ceremonies through which she moved from the outside world to the cloister. Then the book turns to liturgical music within the cloister, performed by the nuns themselves, from chant to simple polyphony, and to the rare occasions where more elaborate music can be documented. Two more chapters look at, respectively, the teaching of music to both nuns and girls resident in convents as boarding students, and at entertainment, musical and theatrical, by and for the nuns. Appendices include a calendar of musical events at Venetian nunneries, details on nunnery organs, lists of teachers, and inventories of musical and ceremonial books, both manuscript and printed. A companion website features editions of complete musical works, excerpts from which are included in the text as examples, along with sound files.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages452
ISBN (Electronic)9780190259129
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2017. All rights reserved.


  • Bells
  • Convents
  • Music
  • Nunneries
  • Nuns
  • Organs
  • Sacred
  • Venice
  • Women musicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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