El Pensamiento Musical De Antonio Eximeno (Antonio Eximeno’s Musical Thought)

Alberto Hernández Mateos
PhD. University of Salamanca, 2012.

Title: El Pensamiento Musical De Antonio Eximeno (Antonio Eximeno’s Musical Thought)


As a consequence of the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain, ordered by Charles III, about 5000 people were forced to go into exile in Italy in 1767. Antonio Eximeno (Valencia, 1729 – Rome, 1808) was among those Jesuits. Philosopher, mathematician and professor of rhetoric, he used the Theory of Music as a means to become a part of the Italian cultural and social networks, reflecting the influence of the Enlightened thought in Europe and acting as a “cultural mediator” between Italy and Spain. In the doctoral dissertation entitled “El pensamiento musical de Antonio Eximeno” I study the concepts that articulate Eximeno’s thought by analysing his writings that contain ideas on music: the treatises Dell’origine e delle regole della musica (1774), the Dubbio di. D. Antonio sopra il Essemplare o sia Saggio fondamentale pratico del M. R. P. M. Giovanni Battista Martini (1775) and his didactic novel D. Lazarillo Vizcardi. Sus investigaciones músicas con ocasión del concurso a un magisterio de capilla vacante (c.1806).

In Chapter I, the relevance of the study and the objectives of the research are examined and established.

In Chapter II the aforementioned texts are summarized and typologically classified. It also appraises the used scientific methodologies.

Chapter III outlines, firstly, a concise intellectual biography of Antonio Eximeno that allows for a better comprehension of some of the topics set out in his texts. This biography is completed with a meticulous state of the art that has ascertained the existence of different historiography traditions that have projected themselves over the time.

Chapter IV offers a panoramic overview of the key concepts that articulate the Enlightened musical thought in Europe which, at the same time, is reflected in Eximeno’s thought.

In Chapter V, Eximeno’s stance regarding questions such as the conceptualization of the music and the arts, the different music genres, his stance regarding the European and non-European oral music tradition, or his historiographical-musical discourse is analyzed. This analysis, which constitutes the main focus of this investigation, has allowed us to affirm that Eximeno’s thought is fully inserted in the European musical debates and to evaluate the originality of his thought. In this sense it is important to emphasize the value of his idea on the origins of the language and the music, his firm distinction between the sciences and the arts, his reflections on the theatrical and religious music of his time, or his modern approach to the issue of the instrumental music. His contribution to the music historiography, presented in an essay type discourse, is also worth mentioning, because it was a field that had almost no precedents.

Chapter VI analyses the reception of Eximeno’s thought in the Spanish context, both in his own time period and during the 19th century. This reception was mainly based on the Castilian translation of Dell’origine e delle regole della musica, a publication that has experienced modifications in regards to the original, In order to study it, we research the strategies employed by Eximeno and his translator to adapt his text to the potential readership. Furthermore, we analyse the reactions on this publication. This study led us to the conclusion that Eximeno’s musical thought was received in a polemic manner. This is exposed both in the periodicals of the time (Diario de Madrid) as well as in theoretical texts, such as Defensa del arte de la música, by Agustín Iranzo, or Sobre el verdadero origen de la música, by José de Teixidor. This polemic reception was caused by the crisis of the production structures of music; a crisis that was acknowledged by the author. Lastly, the analysis of the impact of Eximeno’s thought on the 19th century music historiography allows for a valuation both of the importance of the studied author, as well as of the levels of deviation in which his thought has been frequently passed on.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.