Tess Knighton

Institució Milà i Fontanals


Tess Knighton holds MA and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge and was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, for fifteen years before being appointed an Emeritus Fellow. From May 2011 she has been an ICREA Research Professor at the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC) in Barcelona. In July 2012 she was awarded a Marie Curie Foundation Integration Grant for a research project on the urban musics of early modern Barcelona. Her research interests embrace music and culture in the Iberian world from the 15th to the early 17th centuries, and she has published widely in this field. She was Editor of the OUP journal Early Music from 1993 to 2009 and is Series Editor of the Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music series for The Boydell Press, as well as Secretary to the Editorial Committee of Monumentos de la Música Esañola.

Research interests

My research focuses on four interrelated aspects of music in the Iberian world in the long 16th century: music and ceremony; music in the urban context; the impact of music printing on the diffusion of musical repertory; and music historiography. Analysis of music and ceremony focuses on public display through royal entries and exequies as well as private devotions. Placing music in the context of court ceremonial reveals patterns of self-identity and image-making. Study of the urban musical experience of different social groups highlights the relationship between music and the institutional complex and urban societal interaction. The impact of music printing on the diffusion and accessibility of music is studied through extant inventories to reveal how European editions were transmitted to the centres of the book trade and the extent of musical literacy. Received ideas of Renaissance Iberian music are challenged and historiographical filters analyzed.

Selected publications

- Knighton T 2017, 'Music for the soul: death and piety in sixteenth-century Barcelona', in Daniele V. Filippi (eds), Listening to Early Modern Catholicism, Cambridge University Press, pp. 233-58.

- Knighton T & Mazuela-Anguita A (eds.) 2017, Música i política en temps de Carles III i el seu contexte europeu, Textures 07,MUHBA, Barcelona

- Knighton T 2017,'Relating history: music and meaning in the relaciones of the canonization of St Raymond Penyafort', in Música e História: Estudos em homenagem a Manuel Carlos de Brito, (coord.) Manuel Pedro Ferreira & Teresa Cascudo, Colibri/CESEM, Lisbon, pp.27-51

Selected research activities

This has been an active year for conferences and seminars, both international and local, and so for opportunities to present the latest findings and results of my research into the urban musics of early modern Barcelona.

I was invited to be a keynote speaker at the international Historical Soundscapes conference in Évora, and also presented papers in Madrid, Prague and the United Kingdom. It was particularly fruitful to give a number of lectures at different local institutions, among them the Universitat de Barcelona, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Institut d’Estudis Catalans and the Universidad Internacional de Catalunya.

Collaboration with the Museu d’História de Barcelona continues apace with the publication of a collection of essays on music and politics during the brief reign of Carles III (1705-14).

During 2017 I began to research in the archive of Santa María del Pí, one of the most important parish churches of the city in the medieval and early modern periods, while continuing to visit regularly the Arxiu Històric de Protocols and the Arxiu d’Història de la Ciutat.