The two halves of the choir (in an architectural sense) in an English cathedral or a large church or chapel: decani is the south side, cantoris the north. The names mean ‘dean’s [side]’, ‘cantor’s [side]’, and refer to the two highest officials of the chapter of a medieval cathedral. The Cantor, or precentor, ranked immediately after the dean in secular cathedral establishments. The dean’s stall was at the west end of the choir, facing east, just to the south of the central aisle; the cantor’s was opposite, north of the aisle. For certain duties the choir (in a musical sense) was also divided into two equal halves. The singers on the dean’s side – decani – took the leading part one week, those on the cantor’s side – cantoris – the next; during the seasons of the three great festivals the alternation was daily. Psalms, canticles and hymns were sung in alternation between the two halves. Together with much other Latin terminology, the names survived the Reformation, and have been used ever since in cathedral music to signify the two halves of the choir....
Friedrich W. Riedel
Benedictine abbey near Krems, Lower Austria. It was founded in 1083 by Bishop Altmann of Passau as a monastery for prebendaries. In 1094 it was taken over by Benedictines from St Blasien in the Black Forest, and rapidly became an important centre of religious and intellectual life. After a period of decline during the Reformation, Göttweig flourished in the Baroque era, particularly under the abbot Gottfried Bessel (1714–49), who, after a fire in 1718, instigated the rebuilding of the monastery in Baroque style. Despite the misfortunes which befell the monastery during the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Wars, and the disruption caused by World War II, Göttweig remained an important religious and cultural centre. It has a long musical tradition; choral singing was fostered from the abbey’s foundation, and its choir school dates from the Middle Ages. By the 15th century an organist had been appointed, and polyphony was sung in the 16th century. An inventory of ...
Robert N. Freeman
Town in Lower Austria. The strategic location of the fortress Medelica (Melk) on a slope overlooking the Danube led the Babenbergs, Austria's medieval rulers, to establish their court there in 976. Monks from the Benedictine abbey of Lambach were invited to join the court in 1089; shortly after 1110, when the Babenbergs moved to Klosterneuburg, the Benedictines became the owners of Melk and a large area of land. This link with the Austrian monarchal line made the wealthy abbey one of the Empire's most powerful institutions.
Soon after their arrival the Benedictines founded a boys' choir; pueri are mentioned as early as 1140 and a cloister school, training boys for singing in processions and daily church services, is described in a manuscript dating from 1160. The scriptorium was most productive in the first half of the 13th century. A great fire (1297) destroyed most of the manuscripts recording this formative musical period. 133 codices survived intact, about half of which originated at Melk, including the ...
revised by Johannes Hoyer
Benedictine monastery in Bavaria, Germany, founded in 764. There is evidence of music making in the monastery from the 12th century. In the first half of the 16th century Ottobeuren was receptive to humanist ideas; it had its own printing press and in 1543 founded its own Benedictine university, although this lasted only a few years. Abbot Caspar Kindelmann (1547–86) encouraged polyphony and instigated the construction of a large organ by Georg Ebert von Ravensburg in the new abbey chapel; he also appears to have been a composer. Kindelmann employed the organist Vitalis Brelle and the choirmaster Christian Frantz, whose manuscript of mainly four-part sacred music (1577) survives. In the 17th century the Catholic revival aroused new interest in choral music, and in the following century the monastery's music reached a peak of splendour, primarily in the field of sacred music, although musical dramas were presented in the abbey school. In ...
From the 16th century to the 19th, the choirboys who sang polyphony in the cathedrals of Seville, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Mexico City, Lima and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world were called seises – six being their traditional number at Seville and Toledo cathedrals. The earliest papal bulls designating the income from a prebend for a master of the choirboys in Seville Cathedral were Eugene IV’s Ad exequendum (24 September 1439) and Nicolas V’s Votis illis (27 June 1454). Throughout the next three centuries Seville Cathedral (which set the pattern for the Spanish Indies) had both a master of the altar boys who sang only plainchant, and a master of the seises, generally the maestro de capilla or his deputy. The master of the seises boarded and taught them. When their voices changed, and upon receiving a certificate of good behaviour, they were entitled to a few years’ free tuition and other benefits in the Colegio de S Miguel or in the Colegio de S Isidoro maintained by the Sevillian Chapter. Similar ...