Musical, Cultural and Religious Networks in Early Modern Europe: in Celebration of Peter Philips’s 450th Anniversary

Musical, Cultural and Religious Networks in Early Modern Europe: in Celebration of Peter Philips’s 450th Anniversary

University of Aberdeen, Scotland, 1-3 March 2011


The web site is now online, and the conference registration is open.

You can access the site at the following address:


The theme of this conference may be interpreted broadly in terms of time and place, and is not limited to the music of Philips and his contemporaries.  Proposals are welcome from all relevent disciplines, and the Call for Papers is reproduced below.


The conference will include concerts of keyboard works by Sweelinck as well as keyboard, conosrt and keyboard works by Philips, performed by Pieter Dirksen, Hank Knox, the Rose Consort of Viols, David Smith and Rachelle Taylor.

Call for Papers


This conference centres on the many and varied networks of cultural practitioners in early modern Europe: musicians, writers, and other artists whose work and lives can be traced through surviving manuscripts, early prints, correspondence and other artefacts. The conference also celebrates the 450thanniversary of the birth of the English composer Peter Philips:  Philips’s life and music provide the springboard for an exploration of the conference theme.


Phillips was a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral before emigrating to the continent to escape persecution as a Catholic and to study music in Italy.  After some time in Rome, he travelled widely Thomas Lord Paget.  He then settled as a “freelance” musician in Antwerp before taking up a position in 1597 as the highest paid organist at the archducal court in Brussels.

It is clear that Philips belonged to various Catholic networks at home and abroad, remaining in contact with Catholics in England and corresponding with Father Persons in Rome.  Peacham states that he sent his music (and probably that of other composers) back to England, perhaps via channels of Catholic communication.  He undoubtedly played a part in espionage, so would have belonged to a network of spies.  In terms of musical networks, his contact with Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was direct: he travelled from the Catholic south to the Protestant north Netherlands to meet him.  He had connections with networks of trade and commerce: he travelled with merchants, the same social class who provided him with work in Antwerp.  Sweelinck was undoubtedly just one of many composers of keyboard music with whom Philips was in contact: the Brussels court was the hub at the centre of a number of keyboard networks, local and international.  Philips’s instrumental music bears witness to a stylistic network of English musicians, including Tomkins at home and Dowland on the continent; his vocal music demonstrates Philips’s links with the Roman School, especially Marenzio.


Philips’s music is of exceptionally high quality so the conference will include a varied concert of his music.  Perhaps his most significant achievement was the role he played in the exportation of English instrumental music to the continent, where it influenced the Amsterdam composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and his students, so there will also be a concert of Sweelinck’s music.  Performers include Pieter Dirksen, Hank Knox, Rachelle Taylor, David Smith and the Rose Consort of Viols.


Papers are invited on any aspect of musical, cultural and/or religious networks in the early modern period.  Possible areas include:

·         Keyboard networks c.1600

·         Phillips, Byrd and Sweelinck

·         Movements of music and musicians, and espionage

·         Manuscript culture, particularly related to music

·         Networks of musicians or artists in terms of style and influence

·         Religious networks, especially pertaining to music

·         Networks of English Catholics at home and abroad


This is one of two conferences organised by McGill University and the University of Aberdeen to mark the anniversary of Peter Philips.  Proposals for papers should be sent to Dr David J. Smith ( by 31 August 2010, including an abstract of no more than 250 words.


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