Athanasius Kircher, S.J. was a German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published around 40 .. The Musurgia Universalis () sets out Kircher’s views on music: he believed that the harmony of music reflected the proportions of the. Musurgia universalis sive ars magna consoni et dissoni in. X. libros digesta. Romae: Ex typographia Haeredum Francisci. Corbelletti, Kircher, Athanasius. German born, Jesuit trained, Athanasius Kircher () survived the varied contemporary musical standing was his Musurgia universalis sire ars magna.

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Other items of interest Other copies of the edition of the Musurgia Universalis: Archived from the original PDF on The Athanasius Kircher Correspondence Projectbetween the Universities of Stanford and Milan, shows us something of the quality and variety of Kircher’s eight hundred-plus regular correspondents: Musurgia Universalis Ptak Science Books: Kircher also displayed a keen interest in technology and mechanical inventions; inventions attributed to him include a magnetic clock, various automatons and the first megaphone.

As few of Kircher’s works have been translated, the contemporary emphasis has been on their aesthetic qualities rather sthanasius their actual content, and a succession of exhibitions have highlighted the beauty of their illustrations. On the intervention of Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peirescthe order was rescinded, and he was sent instead to Rome to continue with his scholarly work, but he had already embarked for Vienna.

He also proposed hygienic measures to prevent the kirchwr of disease, such as isolation, quarantineburning clothes worn by the infected and wearing facemasks to prevent the inhalation mudurgia germs.

Kircher’s keen interest in anatomy is shown in the cut-away style of these anatomical drawings of the human head and ear, designed to show how the ear actually hears and responds to music. The cockerel’s music has the familiar portamento at the end of each phrase; as usual the cuckoo’s kirccher is notated as a falling minor third. Archived from the original PDF on October universals, Many surviving compositions by Frescobaldi, Froberger and other baroque mueurgia are due to Kircher’s extensive transcriptions and reproductions of scores in Musurgia.


The German publishing house of Olm produced a facsimile edition of it in but it is already out of print. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Kircher’s model disproved the hypothesis, showing that the motion could be produced by a water clock in the base of the device. One modern scholar, Alan Cutler, described Kircher as “a giant among seventeenth-century scholars”, and “one of the last thinkers who could rightfully claim all knowledge as his domain”.

Of the plucked instruments displayed here: He raised money to pay for the church’s reconstruction as the Santuario della Mentorellaand his heart was buried in the church on his death.

Historian Anthony Grafton has said that “the staggeringly strange dark continent of Kircher’s work [is] the setting for a Borges story that was never written”, while Umberto Eco has written about Kircher in his novel The Island of the Day Beforeas well as in his non-fiction works The Search for the Perfect Language and Serendipities.

Much of Musurgia is dedicated to a survey of contemporary music, including the first published mention of the baroque ‘doctrine of the affections’ in athanasous music is ideally analogous to human emotions.

The plate above, meanwhile, is from the section discussing Hebrew instruments. A fine Guidonian hand there, not to mention those excellent lutes and viols. University of Chicago Library.

Athanasius Kircher SJ – ‘Musurgia Universalis’, 1650

The rest of the content of the book, however, is much less well-known, although a small number of the same restricted group of bitonal images from it regularly appears on websites. Kircher’s research in music and acoustics led to many innovations and inventions, particularly in the area of amplification and sound design, which he would expand upon in his Phonurgia nova Kempten Others sent him chocolate and other presents to keep his interest in them from flagging.


He based himself in the city for the rest of his life, and from [9] he taught mathematics, physics and Oriental languages at the Collegio Romano now the Pontifical Gregorian University for several years before being released to devote himself to research. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Our copy is outstanding for its finely hand coloured illustrations. It was a work of encyclopedic breadth, combining material of unequal quality, from accurate cartography to mythical elements, such as a study of dragons.

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The illustration below depicts a piazza-listening device: The muse on the right may be Polymnia who appears in standard pose surrounded by musical instruments of various kinds. InKircher discovered the ruins of a church said to have been constructed by Constantine on the site of Saint Eustace ‘s vision of Jesus Christ in a stag’s horns.

Kircher had an early interest in Chinatelling his superior in that he wished to become a missionary to that country. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. The quater-centenary of the birth of the Jesuit polymath, Father Athanasius Kircherseemed an appropriate moment to examine one of the most famous volumes of his works in Special Collections – the Musurgia Universalis published in two volumes in Rome in Other machines designed by Kircher include an aeolian harpautomatons such as a statue which spoke and listened via a speaking tubea perpetual motion machineand a Katzenklavier “cat piano”.

BibliOdyssey: Musurgia Universalis

The frontispiece to the first volume was engraved by Baronius of Rome after a drawing by John Paul Schor. Boston College Magazine Spring feature. Anatomy meets polyphony, perhaps? Above is perhaps his most famous musical invention: