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A Humanist Trialogue

A musical project commemorating the legacy of Humanism in the three- country-region of Switzerland, France and Germany.

Music from 16th-c. Switzerland, France, Germany and The Netherlands.


Erasmus von Rotterdam (1466-1536) visits to Basel between 1514 and the date of his death marked the history of  the city. Not only the legacy of his body was left at the Basel Cathedral but also his prints (by his friend Johannes Froben), his thought and his vision. It was here, where Erasmus printed Novum Instrumentum: a revised latin version of the New Testament that Martin Luther would use for his own translation into vernacular - a landmark that would change the history of Europe for ever. Other works by Erasmus printed in the city were De Libero Arbitrio (or "On free will"), a polemical writing against Luther's theology and didactic-rhetorical works.


Basel was at the time a centre of book-trade: one of the strongest tools (and weapons) of humanism. Part of the Basel printing network was the Amerbach family, who published some of the finest music prints of the time with works by Isaac, Josquin, Hofheimer and the keyboard tablatures of Hans Kotter among others.


The Amerbachs also printed the works of some of the most important humanists of the region, like Johannes Reuchlin and Beatus Rhenanus. The latter was a classical scholar native from Sélestat, Alsace, and good friend and admirer of Erasmus.  After relocating in Paris, Strassbourg and Basel, he returned to his home city, where Rhenanus left one of the most outstanding humanist - libraries in Europe, the Humanist Library of Sélestat, today protected by the UNESCO as Memory of the World. 

Reuchlin was a philosopher and Hebraist from Pforzheim, Germany. His strive for classical knowledge took him all over Europe, becoming one of the most sought-after Greek and Hebrew teachers of the region. He stood out for defending the value of Jewish scholarship - something very unpopular at the time. He also left account of the perhaps first and only written source teaching polyphonic cantillation of the Hebrew Bible. (A novel reconstruction of this praxis (?) is showcased in the performance of the program).


-"We lay the foundations of the future: the truth will rise upon the earth, the darkness will disappear and light will shine" - Johannes Reuchlin, 1522.


Humanists' traveling, teaching and sharing of ideas resulted in the formation of a nest that was meant to create a dynamic philosophical and artistic exchange between countries. Humanists like Erasmus and Reuchlin influenced with new perspective the arts: opening the path to new soundscapes. This program revives this rich cultural era in music and text.


Catalina Vicens




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This program was conceived in its origin as a part of Anima Trianguli, a production of Gare du Nord

«Anima Trianguli»

Ein Musikprojekt zum Humanismus am Oberrhein


Programm: Kompositionen von Mark Andre (Frankreich), Hans Thomalla (Deutschland) und Katharina Rosenberger (Schweiz), Madrigale der Renaissance, Texte von Erasmus von Rotterdam, Johannes Reuchlin und Beatus Rhenanus, Podiumsgespräche

Mit: Marcus Weiss (Saxophon / Musikalische Leitung), ensemble recherche (Melise Mellinger/Violine, Barbara Maurer/Viola, Åsa Åkerberg/Cello), Ensemble Servir Antico, (Catalina Vicens, Leiting), Désirée Meiser (Lesung)

Podium Basel: PD Dr. Seraina Plotke (Universität Basel, germanistische Mediävistik und Neulatein) und Dr. Lorenz Heiligensetzer (Historiker, Mitbetreuer der historischen Bestände der Universitätsbiliothek Basel)

Podium Sélestat: Laurent Naas (Leiter der Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat) und James Hirstein (Maître de conférences, hdr, Institut de latin Beatus Rhenanus, Universität Strassburg)

Podium Pforzheim: Dr. Christoph Timm (Denkmalpfleger und Reuchlin-Beauftragter der Stadt Pforzheim) und Dr. Matthias Dall’Asta (Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften)

Idee und Konzept: Désirée Meiser
Produktionsleitung und Dramaturgie: Anja Wernicke

Eine Produktion des Gare du Nord in Kooperation mit dem Kulturamt der Stadt Pforzheim un den Amis de la Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat, mit Unterstützung der Stadt Sélestat.

Im Rahmen von «Triptic – Kulturaustausch am Oberrhein»

Line-up: 4-6 musicians

- 3-4 singers

- organ

- Renaissance fiddle (optional)



J. Desprez, J. Obrecht, J. Ghiselin, P. Hofheimer, H. Kotter, T. Crequillon, A. Agricola, J. Reuchlin, H. van Ghizenghem.



- Humanism

- Renaissance

- sacred music

- secular music

- vocal music

- organ music

- Franco-flemish school

- Netherlands

- Switzerland

- France

- Germany

- 16th-century

Picture: Sebastian Münster (1488-1552),

Europa Regina in Cosmographia 1544, Basel, Switzerland.

Picture: Matthias Grünewald (c.1470 - 1528), Concert of Angels, Isenheim Altarpiece (1512 - 1516), Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar, France

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 6.48.01 PM.png
Mother and Child, Genurt Marias, Salzbur

Servir Antico

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