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Peter Vergo of the University of Essex, examines the influence of music on architecture and painting from the Renaissance to the present. He starts in Venice, in the Piazza San Marco, and shows ...the very close relationship between music written by the organists of San Marco and the space of the basilica. He traces this back to antiquity and the mathematical basis of music, associated with the name of Pythagoras. He then shows how architects believed they could 'elevate their art by basing the proportions of their buildings on musical proportions. We look at the churches of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, and San Andrea in Mantua. He then moves back to Venice to look in detail at the Sansovino's design for the San Francesco della Vigna which is entirely based on musical relationships. He then turns to painting, and shows how Goethe believed that music was the most abstract of the arts. He considers the influence of this on nineteenth century painters, and shows how the emergence of pure abstract values is seen in terms of an analogy with musical values.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A101, An arts foundation course
Item code: A101; 18
First transmission date: 21-06-1978
Published: 1978
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:23:42
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributor: Peter Vergo
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Architecture; Kandinsky; Klee; Music; Painting; St.Marks; Turner; Venice
Footage description: The programme is introduced by Peter Vergo (University of Essex) from St. Mark's Square Venice. Music by Gabrielli is played over. Over a montage of shots of St. Mark's. Vergo explains how the shape and musical facilities of the church influenced the music of composers such as Gabrielli and Monteverdi. Various shots of St. Mark's interior with organ music over.From inside St Mark's Vergo explains the Renaissance idea that the mathematical order inherent in music could tee applied to other arts. An animated diagram illustrates his argument. Stills of works by Raphael, Wittkower and Alberti. Over human figures by various Renaissance artists Vergo explains, their attempts to apply mathematical rules to such paintings. Animated diagram shows figures receding on a perspectival grid. He describes the attempts of architects such as Palladio and Alberti to apply 'musical proportions' to their buildings. Shots of San Giorio Maggiore, then film of market stalls in Mantua. Vergo examines the proportions of the church of St. Andrea in Mantua in detail. Plans of the church's olecations. He explains why Alberti disliked murals in a church. From the church of San Francesco della Vigua in Venice Vergo describes the architect Gritti's ideas on the application of harmonious proportions to buildings and to the human body. Animated diagrams and shots of the interior of the church show how Gritti arranged the proportions of San Francesco della Virga. Palladio's facade for the church is also examined. Vergo quotes the ideas of Leibniz, Schopenhauer and Goethe on the mathematical qualities of music. Portraits of Goethe shown. Music over Venetian scenes. Over various 19th century narrative paintings Vergo comments on the subservience of painting to concrete images. Quoting from Baudelaire and Ruskin he traces the rise of a belief in colour for its own sake. Further film of Venice. Over paintings by Turner Vergo describes Gilbert Hamerton's enthusiasm for Turner's indistinct images. He compares impressionist works with the abstract qualities of music. A number of Monet's paintings are shown. He also examines the rise of musical titles for paintings, with particular emphasis on Whistler, several of whose works are shown. Vergo explains why painters of pure abstract art, such as Kandinsky and Klee, compared their works with musical compositions. A variety of early 2Oth century abstracts are shown. Vergo comments on the formal structures of this kind of art.
Master spool number: 6HT/72896
Production number: 00525_3446
Videofinder number: 2608
Available to public: no