These interesting engravings come from a 1672 Salzburg manuscript, Speculum Muscio-Mortuale by baroque composer Abraham Megerle(s).
To the best of my limited understanding (limited by the dearth of relevant information on the web and by the usual translational aberrances) Megerle (1609-1670) was from Innsbruck, Austria and pursued something of a religious life as Director of Cathedral Music in Konstanz, Germany and was a music pupil of Johann Stadlmayr.
It would seem that these Totenköpfen ('deadheads' - skulls) form some sort of allegorical centrepiece, augmented by the musical instruments and symbols in each illustration. The engravings are placed among descriptive and biblicial text and give the appearance to my mind of some kind of musical half-cousin to the emblemata genre. I saw some passing reference to this volume being an autobiography but I'm not sure about that.
It's best to see them in their original context, particularly if you read german (and latin moreso). I'm very curious so if anyone knows what the book is about or has any edumacated guesses to offer, please go right ahead.
There is also reference to a Peter Tenhaef and his " Abraham Megerles "Speculum musico mortuale" and its dead-liturgical parallels in the "Beylag to my will" in: Music in Bavaria 56 (1998), 15-40 ".. [I've half a mind to contact him at his university email address and ask some questions]
The above Megerle images are nearly the total on display at the Universitätsbibliothek Salzburg (translation page)
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Posted by peacay at 5:16 a.m.