January 3, 2008
Athanasius Kircher was a famous Jesuit archaeologist as well as a musical composer. He was born at Geisa in Thuringia, near Fulda, Germany on May 2nd 1602, and died in Rome, Italy on November 28th 1680. He was professor at Wurzburg 1635-7, and later at Avignon. Afterwards he lived in Rome. His musical works include “Musurgia universalis, sive ars magna consoni et dissoni” (1650; epitomized in German, 1662); “Phonurgia nova, sive conjugium mechanico-physicum artis et naturae” (1673); his “Oedipus aegyptiacus” contains a curious chapter on hieroglyphic music; in his treatise “De arte magnetica” are given airs then popularly regarded as a cure for tarantism; in fact, all his works exhibit a unique blending of real scientific thought with superstition.