Jesuit Ideology, the Counter-Reformation and the Spiritual Madrigals of Philippe de Monte (1521-1603)


Anselmus Boëtius de Boodt, Portriat of Philippus de Monte, 1596-1603 © Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, RP-T-BR2017-1-1-21r

November 2022 - November 2026

The genre of the spiritual madrigal reached a height of popularity in the final decades of the 16th century. With its combination of philosophical and spiritual poetry, and the music-expressive power of the secular madrigal, it flourished in Counter-Reformist contexts as a medium for introducing sacred elements into the daily life. The Fleming Philippe de Monte (1521-1603) was not only one of the most significant and prolific composers of his time, but also one of the most important producers of spiritual madrigals. Yet, despite the rich socio-cultural and musical interest of the spiritual madrigal, and Monte’s stature and reputation, both the spiritual madrigal as a genre and Monte’s contribution to it are largely untouched in research. In this project I therefore propose to scrutinize Monte’s spiritual madrigals textually and musically within a Counter-Reformist context. Monte's spiritual madrigals clearly exhibit (in)direct connections with the Society of Jesus, thus raising the hypothesis that these pieces were employed by the Society of Jesus as an indoctrinating tool. To substantiate this proposal, I will perform a textual analysis of Monte's spiritual madrigals focusing on the philosophical and spiritual content which will enable their allocation within Jesuit and Counter Reformist frameworks. In addition, I will perform a musical analysis focusing on the musical techniques that empower the conveyed philosophical and spiritual messages in these madrigals.