56th International Musicological Colloquium Brno, October 10–12, 2022

Love and Virtue in Musico-Dramatic Works ca. 1660–1800

Love and virtue are some of the most important affections (Affekte) in musico-dramatic works
of the early modern period. In the arts, the representation of the two concepts has been debated
since the classical antiquity and has undergone a long historical development. It has been
strongly influenced by Christian doctrines (through the four cardinal virtues, resp. heavenly
virtues) and concepts of chivalry and courtly love (through the knightly virtues). In the
eighteenth century, Christian Gottfried Krause, in his
Von der musikalischen Poesie (1752),
associated feelings of awe of God, religious enthusiasm, noble reflections, holy ardour and
humility before the God’s will with the most flamboyant and pleasing affections. Similar
concepts dominate Pietro Metastasio’s librettos for the imperial court at Vienna, in which love
and virtue are linked to the political ideology of monarchical absolutism.

Through this period, Love (caritas) was considered one of the divine virtues and was depicted
as an allegorical figure in musico-dramatic works. Both Krause and Johann Mattheson (
vollkommene Capellmeister
, 1739) thought that love was the most important affection. Love
was also viewed as beneficial to health. René Descartes (
Traité des passions de l'âme, 1649)
claimed that the passion of love warmed the heart and promoted a strong and regular pulse and
digestion. Ernst Anton Nicolai (
Musik & Artzneygelahrtheit, 1745) saw not only positive effects
in love and its affections, but also warned of the possible inadequacy of emotions that were too
strong. Musico-dramatic works also often thematized the concepts of patriotic love, parental
love, and a child’s love for the parent. The most common type of love depicted on the stage,
however, was the affection towards one’s lover – the love of the beloved. Musico-dramatic
works expressed a wide range of affections related to romantic love, from joyful enchantment,
hope and tenderness to anxiety, jealousy, despair, rage and hatred.

Other virtuous affections that were often depicted in musico-dramatic works were kindness,
friendship, generosity, gratitude, gentleness, and compassion. Whereas oratorios, gratulatory
compositions, and secular cantatas usually celebrate both love and virtue, in operas love is often
– at least seemingly – opposed to virtue or duty. The ethical, didactic, and moralistic aspects of
musico-dramatic works were to a large extent determined by librettists. Johann Adolf Scheibe
Critischer Musicus, 1745) states that a librettist-poet should be a teacher of morality. At the
same time, composers played an important role in enhancing, clarifying, endorsing, but
sometimes also subtly undermining the poetic content focused on love and virtue.

The main aim of this colloquium will be to explore the relationship (the harmony and the
tensions) between love and virtue in musico-dramatic works. Presenters are also encouraged to
consider how musico-dramatic works were influenced by the environment in which they were
created (aristocratic, religious, urban environments represented by parish churches or town
councils etc.).

Presentations should consider musical, aesthetic, analytical, dramaturgical, and theatrical
aspects of musico-dramatic works either in terms of their conception or performance and
reception. New findings from historical research in the field of musical theatre are welcome as

Invited participants should plan for twenty-minute presentations in English or German,
followed by a short discussion.

Abstracts (in the language in which you will be presenting and up to 2000 characters in length)
and short CVs (up to 500 characters, including institution, country, and e-mail address) should
be sent at
Tato e-mailová adresa je chráněna před spamboty. Pro její zobrazení musíte mít povolen Javascript. no later than May 15, 2022. Proposals must be submitted
as attachments by email as a Word file.
We sincerely ask to respect the deadline, thank you.

Organisation: Jana Perutková, Vladimír Maňas
Secretary: Magdalena Dostálová, Zuzana Badárová

- May 15, 2022: deadline for the candidates’ submissions
- June 15, 2022: announcement of the results, a preliminary schedule to be sent
- September 20, 2022: a final schedule to be sent
- October 10–12, 2022: the colloquium takes place