Mr Matthew Laube

Supervised by

  • Stephen Rose First/primary/lead supervisor


Research interests

Music and confession in Heidelberg, 1556–1618

This dissertation examines the close relationship of music and religion in the city of Heidelberg in the turbulent period between its first fervent Lutheran reforms (1556) and the start of the Thirty Years’ War (1618). Examining the theory of confessionalization in relation to music, my PhD challenges the theory’s central premise that, in the process of building unified states and using social discipline to enhance secular power, “the three great confessions – Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism – developed into internally coherent and externally exclusive communities distinct in institutions, membership and belief.” (Schilling, 1995) By Electoral decree, Heidelberg and its churches violently oscillated four times between Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) confessions between 1556 and 1618. Although each change caused confessional tension throughout the city, Heidelberg’s musical spheres showed continuities as much as discontinuities both within learned circles and on the popular level. Music offers a useful scholarly lens on confessionalization, not only because it was performed in sacred and secular contexts, but also because music’s aural and textual qualities enabled a greater permeation of society than other communicatory or devotional media such as Bibles, catechisms and visual art.


My dissertation consists of an extended introductory chapter and four chapters:

  • ‘Hymns and hymnbooks’, examining the printing, circulation and uses of hymns and hymnbooks as tools of confessionalization. The analysis of official printed hymnbooks alongside manuscript hymns and hymnbooks reveals that Lutheran and Calvinist hymn cultures were never fully distinct, but drew on common origins and complementary aims of vernacular singing.
  • ‘Music and education’, considering how strategies and goals of music education were shared by Lutherans and Calvinists. Different approaches to musical education occurred along social rather than religious lines, as the educational activities of youth in the court resembled approaches of leading Catholic and Lutheran courts. In addition to educational programs, students used music to construct an identity reflecting their semi-autonomous social status and to resist the efforts of religious authorities to homogenize society.
  •  ‘Book culture, music and confession’, investigating the ways that performative elements found in music books differentiated them from other types of early modern book. Individual and institutional libraries contain music expressly outlawed by Heidelberg authorities; inscriptions in extant books produced in Heidelberg uniquely display that individuals freely exchanged music books and manuscripts to others of the same and of opposing confessional belief.
  • ‘Music and courtly festivities’, exploring how the desire for musical splendor commensurate to princely status was achieved in light of not only confessional tensions but also music’s ephemeral nature. Extant commemorative books reveal that strategies for musical splendor were regulated by imperial expectations and also local traditions.


This dissertation brings together hitherto unknown archival material and numerous printed sources with theories of cultural history, material culture and cultural exchange to challenge misunderstandings about Reformed musical culture, to show the extensive overlapping of Reformed and Lutheran musical cultures, and to explore the relationship of confessionalized music to pre-Reformation religious and political networks.




Personal profile

Educational background

PhD in Music, 2010-2014

MMus in Advanced Musical Studies, 2009-2010

MMus in Trombone Performance, 2005-2008

BA in German Studies, 2005-2008

BA in Music, 2000-2004

Additional Study

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany

Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, Germany

View all (5) »

View all (6) »

ID: 10439