Carissimi’s Jephte and Jesuit Spirituality

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The lament that ends Jacomo Carissimi’s Jephte is frequently anthologized and taught in undergraduate surveys, and is justly famous for its emotional impact. Although it is generally thought to have been composed for performance at the Oratorio del Santissimo Crocifisso in Rome, Jephte could later have been used in other settings. Carissimi’s strong ties to the Collegio Germanico-Ungarico and its associated church encourage a reconsideration of the lament through a lens of Jesuit spirituality. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises (1522–24) inspired the use of visual art and drama to facilitate its participatory processes, and the daughter’s lament and the chorus that end Jephte can serve a similar function.

Vincent P. Benitez is an associate professor of music theory in the School of Music at the Pennsylvania State University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory and analysis. He holds a PhD in music theory from Indiana University, and the DMA degree in organ performance from Arizona State University. Benitez also holds a master’s degree in music theory and composition from Arizona State University, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organ performance from the University of North Texas.

As a music theorist, Benitez specializes in the music of Olivier Messiaen. He is the author of Olivier Messiaen’s Opera, Saint François d'Assise, to be published by Indiana University Press in 2019. He is also the author of Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge, 2018), widely acknowledged as the standard bibliographic resource on the composer. Benitez has likewise published articles on Messiaen in Music Analysis, Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate, 2010), the Dutch Journal of Music Theory, the Journal of Musicological Research, the fourth volume of the Poznan Studies on Opera (Theories of Opera), Music Theory Online, and the College Music Symposium.

Additional research interests for Benitez include the analysis of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music, the history of music theory, and popular music. He is the author of The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years (Praeger, 2010). His interest in the music of the Beatles has resulted in a popular online Gen Ed course that he wrote for non-music majors at Penn State centering on the Fab Four’s music (MUSIC 109: The Music of the Beatles).
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Last modified on Monday, 10/06/2019

Alice V. Clark

Alice V. Clark is Professor of Music History at Loyola University New Orleans, where she teaches a wide range of courses in music history and medieval studies. Her research focuses on aspects of the late-medieval motet, but the current project comes from reflections on Jesuit spirituality in connection with Loyola’s Ignatian mission.

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