Biennale ReRenaissance 2023

Music and Might - Maximilian's Triumphal Procession
Fri 22.09.23 Grand Opening Concert 19:30

Historical Museum Basel

Biennale ReRenaissance 2023: Music and Might - Maximilian's Triumphal Procession, 22.9 to 24.9


aximilian’s Triumphal Procession is a monument of superlatives in art history. Around 1510, Emperor Maximilian I commissioned this huge picture project, meant to stretch over 50 meters long; this ambitious printing project eclipsed all of his previous ones.

Occupying a central role in the Triumphal Procession is the representation of music, which itself functioned as an audible representation of political might and power. Music shaped life at the imperial court on all levels, in both public and private settings: the arrival of a ruler or his representatives was announced by timpani and trumpets; the Alta Capella played with shawms and trombones for a stately ball; the court danced, in an intimate setting, to the pipe-and-tabor; singers of the chapel celebrated a solemn, polyphonic mass in the cathedral with an organ; and German songs were sung in several voices, accompanied by the lute, in the queen’s Frauenzimmer. Music was omnipresent in Maximilian’s conception of the state, and it even contributed to his fame and glory in the emperor’s absence. With the emergence of song printing, the songs of the court penetrated into the living rooms of his citizens. And although Maximilian’s self-image was wholly captivated by almost romanticised medieval notions of noble chivalry, he still made use of the most modern technology of his time for boosting his public image: the printing press spread his political propoganda far and wide, not only with his Triumphal Procession, but also with most of his other gedechtnus works. Today, we would call him a great influencer.

It is not surprising that Maximilian’s court chapel occupies a central role in the Triumphal Procession. In the first quarter of the procession, several fully-occupied and animal-drawn carriages are reserved for the presentation of this chapel, including a lute- and viol consort, harp, positive organ, crumhorns, cornett and shawm, pipe-and-tabor, and, of course, the chapel with its singers and boys. Members of various loud “Alta Capella” ensembles follow on horseback, which underlines their high status: one can see mounted timpanists, trumpeters, trombonists and shawm players. The great composers of the day were also portrayed: Heinrich Isaac, Maximilian’s great court composer; the organist and composer, Paul Hofhaimer; the cornettist, Augustin Schubinger; and the court lutenist, Albrecht Morhanns (called Artus), together with Adolf Blindhamer, who was still young at the time. Later, Albrecht Dürer would count Blindhamer among the best of the lutenists. Even one of Basel’s own, the singer and composer Ludwig Senfl, was involved; however, his major breakthrough occurred in the years following Maximilian’s reign.

According to the plan, a frieze of 200 prints was to be assembled in order to depict the court in all its splendour. It was a demonstration of political power that was meant to have an effect both abroad and domestically, consolidating the dynasty’s rule over a diverse, multi-ethnic state. The best artists in the German-speaking world at the time were invited to be part of this project; Hans Burgkmair prepared the plan and sketches, and the artists included the painter and woodcutter, Albrecht Altdorfer, and even Albrecht Dürer.

The 1st ReRenaissance Festival, 2023

ReRenaissance takes the colossal pictorial work of Maximilian’s Triumphal Procession as the inspiration for its first festival, which will be held September 22–24, 2023. For three consecutive days, well-known Basel-based early-music ensembles – including the ensembles Leones (directed by Marc Lewon), I Fideli (directed by Catherine Motuz & Josue Melendez) and Phaedrus (directed by Mara Winter) – will perform music related to Maximilian’s court. Although no scores have survived directly from his court chapel, numerous music manuscripts from the period around 1500 and the song prints of the early 16th century are indirect witnesses to his court’s rich musical output. The various ensembles at the festival have been selected in order to highlight completely different genres of music from Maximilian’s court: the intimate sounds of lute, harp and viols accompany the Tenorlieder  which blossomed under Maximilian; trombones and cornetts play motets and the newly-flourishing category of instrumental music, written as such; and singers ring out the magnificent polyphony of the turn of the 16th century..

Parallel to these main concerts, which are centered around Maximilian’s court chapel, midday concerts will be presented by young ensembles which have recently formed at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. These groups will polish off the picture of the Triumphal Procession, enriching it with numerous facets: for example, the “Swiss Pair” of transverse flute and drum will be featured, which provided popular dance music for the masked balls at Maximilian’s court.

Marc Lewon

See also:

Martin Kirnbauer:

Schwindt, Nicole: Maximilian’s songs. Secular music in German lands around 1500. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2018.

Influence Maximilian © ReRen LS


Festival ReRenaissance September 22-24, 2023 Music and Power

The triumphal procession of Emperor Maximilian is a superlative monument of art history. Along for the ride: floats with musicians galore. More than 50 musicians present the music of the imperial court in a unique show.




The Donkey’s Crown

An Invitation to Join the Animals
Sun 25.06.23 Intro 17:45 Concert 18:15

Historical Museum Basel


Maximilian’s Songs

Fri 22.09.23 Intro 18:45 Concert 19:30

Historical Museum Basel

Le Diamante et la Marguerite

Triumph 2
Sat 23.09.23 Intro 14:15 Concert 15:00

Schmiedenhof; Rümelinsplatz, Basel

Triumphant procession gala concert

Triumph 3 Musica ReRen
Sat 23.09.23 Intro 18:45 Concert 19:30

St. Martin's Church
Martinskirchplatz, Basel


Trump 4
Sun 24.09.23 Intro 10:15 Concert 11:00

Martinskirche, Basel

Pfiffer & Prosoner

Trump 5
Sun 24.09.23 Intro 16:15 Concert 17:00

Martinskirche, Basel



The Musical World of Felix Platter
Fri 27.10.23 Intro 17:45 Concert 18:15

Historical Museum Basel


ぐるりよざ Gururiyoza!

Over the Seas with Music
Sun 26.11.23 17.45 Intro 18:15 Concert

Barfüsserkirche Historical Museum Basel