CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Petrus Alamire. Meerstemmigheid in beeld

Petrus Alamire. Polyphony in the picture Exhibition: 19 August - 22 November 2015

Information from the museum, 26 August 2015

The recently restored Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady will host an exhibition where unique illuminated music manuscripts and masterpieces of Flemish primitives will converge, embedded in a digital multimedia world.

Peter Imhoff (ca 1470 – 1536), also known as Petrus Alamire, was born into a well-known merchant family in Nuremberg, where he was presumably trained as a musician and music copyist. Following family members travelling on business, he journeyed to the Low Countries shortly before 1500, where he was commissioned to produce music manuscripts for Margaret of Austria and Archduke Charles (later emperor Charles V). He turns up as a businessman, a spy for Henry VIII and a courier for Erasmus and other humanists. He also kept personal contacts with several European courts and with powerful merchants and bankers. This network ensured that the music manuscripts, still famous today, were disseminated throughout Europe from Flanders.

Choirbooks in the Antwerp Cathedral

Taking advantage of seven extraordinary music manuscripts from the workshop of Petrus Alamire, preserved in our country, you can get immersed in the Flanders and the Europe of around 1500, getting acquainted with the rulers, composers, musicians, the arts and the world view. These choir- and songbooks from which the singers sang straightaway, will be given visual and auditory life. Not only will you see the skill with which they were made, but by virtue of digital images of the most beautiful pages and the most splendid details you will be in a position to access the whole manuscript to boot. Aided by a headphone you will enter a universe from 500 years ago, pride of place evidently being given to music and polyphony. After the seven case stories you can enjoy total immersion into the sound world of early 16th-century polyphony. Walking through a sound and video installation by artist Rudi Knoops, you will experience the polyphonic texture of the music, as a whole or as a multitude of individual musical lineaments, seeing the musicians at work. The story of the manuscript will be further illustrated by artworks (and objects) from the collection of Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Antwerp. On view will be works by Gerard David, Bernard van Orley, Ambrosius Benson and others.