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Emanuel Signer

Emanuel Signer

PhD student


Emanuel Signer, from Winterthur, Switzerland, is a PhD student in Historical Musicology at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge.

His research project, supervised by Prof. Iain Fenlon, examines printed musical settings of the mass ordinary produced in Italy between 1563 and 1644. The project seeks to explore how sacred music became a main focus of the Italian printing industry in the aftermath of the Council of Trent, and in which way this blossoming period of sacred music distribution relates to stylistic innovations, changes and developments taking place in the late 16th and the early 17th century. By focusing on the polyphonic mass ordinary - still frequently referred to as a ‘conservative’ or ‘uninteresting’ genre from the point of view of stylistic ‘progress’ - it shall be examined in which way such music for the most sacred of Catholic liturgical rituals was perceived as prestigious and sellable, as adaptable to various forms of compositional change, and therefore at the centre of compositional, distributional, and stylistic history at the turn of the 17th century.

For this project Emanuel was awarded with scholarships by the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust CCEIT and the Janggen-Pöhn-Foundation, St. Gallen, Switzerland, as well as with the scholarship Doc.Mobility by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF.

Emanuel graduated 2013 with a Master of Arts in two majors Musicology and English Language and Literature from the University of Zurich, where he also did his Bachelor of Arts (2009). In his MA thesis he concentrated on Francis Poulenc’s concertos and their relationship to neoclassical discourse in 20th-century France.

2010-2013 he was library assistant to Prof. Laurenz Lütteken at the Department of Musicology at the University of Zurich. Further education involved a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Organ at the Zurich University of the Arts (2009) and the Teaching Diploma for Secondary Schools at UZH.

Aside from his studies Emanuel is active in choirs and vocal ensembles in Britain and Switzerland as a singer and director. He is Choir Administrator of Queens’ College, Cambridge, as well as manager of The Zurich Chamber Singers in Switzerland.


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