Celestino Eccher and the study of Gregorian chant: a critical reassessment

Giovanni Cunego
University of Pavia, Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage


The aim of this article is to critically re-read Celestino Eccher’s contribution to Gregorian chant studies, examining in particular his didactic handbook production of the 1950s and 1960s (Chironomia gregoriana, Accompagna- mento gregoriano and Il primo gregoriano). As of today, musicological litera- ture has not looked into this specific aspect of Celestino Eccher’s multiface- ted activity, preferring instead to focus on his contribution to composition and performance. This article, however, seeks to fill a gap in this study field: by investigating this specific area of Eccher’s activity, it aims at capturing Ce- lestino Eccher’s thinking on Gregorian chant and, consequently, critically evaluating his contribution. Rather than from specialized academic litera- ture, Celestino Eccher’s work, with its mainly practical-didactic slant, arose as part of the Catholic Church’s tireless efforts to promote Gregorian chant, which was so characteristic of the early 20th century, and was revived in the 1950s under the pontificate of Pius XII. This perspective makes it possible, on the one hand, to grasp the limits of Eccher’s activity and, on the other, to read his thought in the context in which it took shape. 

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