The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis was founded in honour of Dionysius, one of seven missionaries sent from Rome to Gaul around 250. It grew to be one of the most powerful monasteries in western Christendom and enjoyed a central position in French history as the first Gothic abbey, royal necropolis, and place of origin of the chronicles of the kings. This is a study of the music and ritual at Saint-Denis from the sixth to the sixteenth century.
It is based on an examination of the liturgical books and archival sources relating to the abbey, in particular the surviving service-books, which tell us much about the history of the music and of the Divine Office at Saint-Denis. Anne Robertson also looks at the tropes and sequences proper to the
office for Saint-Denis, provides information on the performance practices, instruments, musicians, and liturgists from the abbey, and offers an account of the history of the liturgy from the Council of Tours in 567 to the pillage of the abbey by the Huguenots in 1567, thus explicating the extant liturgical codices from Saint-Denis. For the author the ritual and history of the abbey is also inextricably linked to the reconstruction of its various buildings, the decorations of the church, even
the monks' ambitions. This is a fascinating and wide-ranging study of this extraordinary institution.
`impressive study ... Robertson writes an exhaustive and detailed account of the liturgy of Saint-Denis. She painstakingly documents the additions and changes to the calendar from the ninth-century to the thirteenth'
Journal of the American Musicological Society
`admirable book ... intensely detailed study ... Taken as a whole, the book's greatest difficulty - its narrow concentration on the details of service books - is its greatest strength, for the astonishing amount of hard research which has gone into it is unlikely ever to be repeated for this institution and will surely provide a model for studies of many more.'
Times Literary Supplement
`A general strength of the book is the inherent flexibility of its overall structure which allows selected themes to be explored in the most straightforward way ... The connections between music, liturgy and politics are convincingly drawn ... a useful point of reference.'
'a substantial work of meticulously careful and thorough scholarship ... Its specialized pedigree and its wider background are both excellent ... Anne Walters Robertson has been notably successful in amassing, organizing, and conveying the sense of an enormous body of material. She writes clearly and with precision, at times most elegantly ... we can thank Robertson for a generous profusion of riches that are surely of interest to more than the specialists
in this field ... It is a veritable mine into which scholars and even general readers may burrow.'
NBBruno Turner, Notes, September 1993
'this is a readable book ... It manages to preserve a balance between the sequential exposition necessary to one that may be read from cover to cover and the self-containment of sections necessary in a book that may be used for reference. Extensive footnotes allow the reader access to a wealth of further information and the works of other scholars ... this wide-ranging work provides an excellent introduction, not only to the service books of Saint-Denis,
but also to the problems of working in the field of medieval liturgical books.'
Isobel Preece, Plainsong and Medieval Music, 2.2. 1993
Survey of the liturgical history of Saint-Denis; calendar of feasts, anniversaries, and royal observances; introduction to liturgy and music at Saint-Denis; interaction of ritual and music at Saint-Denis; interaction of ritual and music with art, architecture, and politics; performance practices, musicians and liturgists; liturgical sources from Saint-Denis; liturgical sources of questionable attribution; appendices: the calendar of Saint-Denis; chronology of liturgical sources from Saint-Denis; liturgical manuscripts by genre; published facsimiles of musical notation; music and texts composd at Saint-Denis.