Fugiens - Michael Maier
Rachel Platt, Emily Van Evera, sopranos; Rufus Müller, tenor; Richard Wistreich, bass & director.
Maier's emblem book Atalanta Fugiens (The Fugitive Atalanta) is best known for
its engravings, reproduced time and again to delight amateurs of alchemy and the
occult arts, and connoisseurs of proto-surrealism. Less well known are the fifty
fugues that accompany the emblems, their cryptic titles and Latin poems, and the
fifty essays or 'discourses' on alchemical themes. This multi-media work appeared
in 1617 from the Oppenheim publisher, Johann Theodor de Bry, with the fifty emblems,
title-page, and portrait of Maier engraved by de Bry's son-in-law Matthaeus Merian
(1593-1650). Maier himself had recently returned from a five-year sojourn in England,
and it was perhaps there that he had prepared this and the nine other books published
in 1616-1618. (...continued in right-hand panel.)
List - See More Info for complete listing of titles.
Atalanta Fugiens exudes the air of its time: the alchemist's laboratory, the echoes of
Renaissance choirs, the attention of the engraver to his copper plate. It is beautiful
and strange, and it must be full of meaning, but what is that meaning?
was a teasing one even to Maier's contemporaries, and four hundred years of 'progress'
have not brought us any closer to answering it. Yet one can enjoy and love this
work without being able to understand it. Art, and that includes Maier's chosen
art of alchemy, does not have to be rational in order to give satisfaction. It
is sufficient for it to arouse the sense of wonder, the sense of something coming
from another level of existence or another order of being. That, after all, is
what music regularly does.
See the web site: Atalanta