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Mother & Child: A Dynasty of Love


Songs and texts about women and by women

Sacred music and texts from the late 14th and early 15th centuries from Austrian and Swiss sources during the reign of the Albertinian line of the Habsburg Dynasty.

Program in collaboration with the Basel Boys Choir

History has been predominately written by men and thus history has been made by men.


The picture of a dynasty is often illustrated with the figure of the king and his heirs, narrating his victories and losses. The chronicles of his decisions and creations constitute much of what we know today as the foundation of the modern world.


The role of the woman in the late Middle Ages and early Modern Period has often been neglected and therefore her function in the development of dynasties, historical events and artistic creation is overlooked. This program tries to draw attention to the accompanying role of the woman in the early Habsburg dynasty. She is presented in music and text as mother, wife, daughter and sister, portraying the role of the female figure both as the subject of devotion in Marian songs as well as an active player in the development of early humanism.


In the 14th century, the slow spread of humanist education for women, led to a critical re-thinking of the misogynist tradition accepted during Antiquity and the Middle Ages. By the 15th century important authors such a Christine de Pizan, Helene Kottaner, Katharina von Gebersweiler, and Laura Cereta gave testimony to the often unheard feminine questions concerning their view on woman’s nature and their role in society. Although most of the time their voice stayed in the shadows of anonymity, the female figure of the early Habsburg period also held a crucial role in the development of the dynasty‘s cultural impact. The dynasty’s women not only increased their family’s influence through their inherited lands, but also acted as prominent patrons of the arts in Austria and Switzerland and became founders, peacekeepers, regents and even protectors of the Holy Crown.

With the Virgin Mary as the loving mother and regent of the angels, in this program, (together with a group of choristers from the Basel Boys Choir) we explore the various musical forms in which children have played an active role on special occasions. The music, although often by anonymous or foreign composers, portrays the music cultivated in the convents and cultural centers of the Albertinian line of the Habsburgs in the 14th and 15th centuries. Revolving around late-medieval musical settings to the Virgin Mary, the symbol of the nurturing mother and the nurturing wisdom, and complemented by the readings of contemporary texts by female authors, ensemble Servir Antico gives homage to the “other voice” of early humanism.


Catalina Vicens

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Line-up: 4 Musicians

- female voice

- medieval fiddle

- slide trumpet

- portative organ

- percussion (optional)

- gothic organ (optional)

-Boys choir (optional)



G. Dufay, J. de Sarto, Hermann Edlerawer, W. Chranekker, anonymous (various)


Main sources:

-St. Emmeram Codex, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14274

-Buxheimer Orgelbuch, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus.3725

-Vienna, Nationalbibliothek Cod. 5094

-Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek 314



-early humanism in Austria

-Swiss cloisters 

-early Habsburg dynasty

-'the other voice'

-early feminism

-sacred music

-late medieval mondy

-late medieval polyphony

-medieval keyboard sources









Picture: Salzburger Missale (Bd. 4) - BSB Clm 15711

Servir Antico

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