Music Baroque Music
by
Tim Carter
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0004

Introduction

“Baroque” is a style-period in music conventionally identified as the 17th century and the first half of the 18th, i.e., from Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567–d. 1643) to J. S. Bach (b. 1685–d. 1750) and Handel (b. 1685–d. 1759). It is often divided into “early” (1600–1640), “middle” (1640–1690), and “high” (1690–1750) phases. These various chronological boundaries remain fuzzy, however, and also reflect the prejudices of German and Anglo-American scholarship that might not appeal to, say, French admirers of their musique classique from Jean-Baptiste Lully to Jean-Philippe Rameau, or Spanish devotees of the siglo de oro up to the death of Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1681). Given that many characteristics of early Baroque music can be traced to aesthetic attitudes and performance practices typical of the late Renaissance, it is common to take the beginnings of Baroque music back to 1580 or so. When the Baroque period ends is a much more problematic question, depending on where one situates the so-called Rococo and style galant (e.g., of Rameau or Georg Philipp Telemann), the Empfindsamer Stil (e.g., of C. P. E. Bach), or the pre-Classical style of, say, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Johann Adolf Hasse. Baroque music is often characterized by one or more of the following: harmonic (vertical) thinking, musical rhetoric and affective text expression, elaborate ornamentation, newly codified genres and forms, the emergence of functional tonality, and the rise of the virtuoso. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (in his Dictionnaire de musique, 1768), writing from the rather smug viewpoint of the French Enlightenment, claimed that “a baroque music is that in which the harmony is confused, charged with modulations and dissonances, the melody is harsh and little natural, the intonation difficult, and the movement constrained.” Modern scholars and performers would disagree, and the current entry, introducing the fundamental texts in the field and its subdivisions, seeks to make some sense of just what Baroque music might be. It does not include composer studies, which can be found separately in Oxford Bibliographies.

General Overviews

For any music-historical style period, the assumptions are (1) that music somehow shares characteristics with the other arts and their broader political, social, and economic environments in more or less the same time span, and (2) that musical developments are somehow congruent over a wide geographical area. Scholars vary, however, on the extent to which music reflects or determines context. Musicologist Curt Sachs (“Barokmusik,” Jahrbuch der Musikbibliothek Peters [1919]: 7–15) borrowed the term “Baroque” from art historian Heinrich Wöllflin; it was then taken over by a Sachs student to produce the first authoritative survey of the repertory in English, Bukofzer 1947, which is historically important and also still has useful insights. Bukofzer’s tendency to treat the music autonomously rather than place it in broader historical environments remains apparent in more recent surveys essentially designed as textbooks for university music-history courses such as Palisca 1991 and Buelow 2004, although Hill 2005 broadens the focus in effective ways. Bianconi 1987 comes from the Italian Storia della musica series that, significantly, prefers to avoid period labels, although the contextual issues remain the same. Given the expansion of musicological studies on the period, and the ever-increasing repertory open to discussion, collaborative volumes have become common, drawing on expertise beyond the capabilities of a single scholar: Carter and Butt 2005 serves the 17th century; Keefe 2009 seeks to negotiate the tricky paths of the 18th; and Stauffer 2006 is a selective set of essays covering the range.

  • Bianconi, Lorenzo. Music in the Seventeenth Century. Translated by David Bryant. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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    A translation of Il Seicento (Turin: EDT, 1982) published as part of the Storia della Musica series promoted by the Società Italiana di Musicologia. In what might best be described as a “soft”-Marxist approach, Bianconi produces a cogent and provocative view of the repertory.

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    • Buelow, George J. A History of Baroque Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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      A good survey by a respected expert in the field. Particularly strong (given the author’s scholarly interests) on German music.

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      • Bukofzer, Manfred F. Music in the Baroque Era: From Monteverdi to Bach. New York: Norton, 1947.

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        Now superseded by Hill 2005 in the new Norton series, but still interesting for its attempts to characterize the period in musical terms.

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        • Carter, Tim, and John Butt, eds. The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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          A collaborative volume that covers much of the repertory, albeit in selective ways.

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          • Hill, John Walter. Baroque Music: Music in Western Europe, 1580–1750. New York: Norton, 2005.

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            Perhaps the best of the recent textbook surveys, and one that seeks to place the music in social and other contexts. It also has a useful companion anthology.

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            • Keefe, Simon P., ed. The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Music. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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              A collaborative volume good for the age of Bach and Handel, but somewhat hampered by the difficulties of treating the 18th century in any coherent manner.

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              • Palisca, Claude V. Baroque Music. 3d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991.

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                The classic textbook, first published in 1968 and still a very helpful and concise guide.

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                • Stauffer, George B., ed. The World of Baroque Music: New Perspectives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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                  A useful set of essays on a range of Baroque topics up to Bach by leading scholars in the field. Each is important for its specific subject, while all have a good feel for hot topics in recent scholarship.

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                  Anthologies

                  A vast amount of music was written in the Baroque period, such that modern editions barely scrape the surface. It takes some skill to play or sing from facsimile reproductions of the original musical sources, even if performers were always wise enough to look at them. Although there are many reliable complete editions of the main composers’ works (such as those for Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schütz, Henry Purcell, Antonio Vivaldi, J. S. Bach, Handel), others are still in progress (for Dieterich Buxtehude, Jean-Philippe Rameau), are only partial (the operas of Alessandro Scarlatti), or have only just begun (selected operas of Francesco Cavalli; a renewed attempt at Jean-Baptiste Lully). To find works by “lesser” composers requires a complex trawl through library catalogues, assuming that their music is edited at all (often it is not). However, anyone seeking quick access to representative Baroque repertories could do worse than refer to the anthologies and other collections cited here. Bonds 2010, Hill 2005, and Schulenberg 2007 are designed to accompany their textbooks (Davison and Apel 1949–1950 was also in effect, a textbook of its own). They are necessarily highly selective and tend not to do justice to the larger-scale repertory; furthermore, it is probably inevitable that the same pieces crop up again and again. Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich, Denkmäler deutscher Tonkunst, and Musica Britannica are national monumenta that not only contain large amounts of otherwise unavailable music but also reveal the national(ist) overtones of much musicological enterprise, while the The Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music is an important developing resource.

                  • Bonds, Mark Evan, ed. Anthology of Scores for “A History of Music in Western Culture.” Vol. 1. Antiquity through the Baroque Era. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010.

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                    A set of scores accompanying Bonds’s textbook survey of the whole of Western music history. The coverage of Baroque music is well done. CD recordings are also available.

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                    • Davison, Archibald T., and Willi Apel, eds. Historical Anthology of Music. 2 vols. Rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1949–1950.

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                      The granddaddy of historical anthologies, marred only by its use of short-score formats. Volume 2 covers Baroque, Rococo, and Pre-Classical music. The supporting LP recordings, if one can find them, are of historical interest in terms of former notions of Baroque performance practice.

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                      • Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich. Vienna: Österreichischer-Bundesverlag, 1894–.

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                        An ongoing series (155 volumes to date) of music (much Baroque) in Austrian sources mostly (but not always) by Austrian composers.

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                        • Denkmäler deutscher Tonkunst. Rev. ed. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1957–1961.

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                          A major series (first published 1892–1931) also including Baroque repertories that further reveals something about musicological nationalisms.

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                          • Hill, John Walter, ed. Anthology of Baroque Music: Music in Western Europe, 1580–1750. New York: Norton, 2005.

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                            A set of scores to accompany the Hill 2005 general overview. A web supplement includes links to additional materials.

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                            • Musica Britannica: A National Collection of Music. London: Stainer & Bell, 1958–.

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                              An ongoing series (some thirty volumes to date) of music by British composers, including some Baroque ones.

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                              • Schulenberg, David, ed. Music of the Baroque: An Anthology of Scores. 2d ed. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                A set of scores (from Palestrina to C. P. E. Bach) to accompany David Schulenberg’s textbook survey, Music of the Baroque (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); a suggested discography is available online.

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                                • Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music.

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                                  A pioneering web-based collection (currently edited by Alexander Silbiger) of new editions of hitherto unknown 17th-century sacred and secular compositions. Promulgated by the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music.

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                                  Journals

                                  In addition to keeping an eye on the standard broad-based musicological journals, and also the composer-specific Jahrbücher (for Bach, Handel, etc.) or the organs of composer-societies (e.g., Acta sagittariana, issued by the Internationale Heinrich-Schütz-Gesellschaft), it is worth looking at every new issue of more specialized periodicals, which will almost always have something relevant to Baroque music in terms of articles and/or reviews. The Basler Jahrbuch für historische Musikpraxis and Early Music focus largely on performance practices; the Galpin Society Journal is interested primarily in organology; and the Journal of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, Eighteenth-Century Music, and Recercare: Rivista per lo studio e la pratica della musica antica tend to range across the board.

                                  • Basler Jahrbuch für historische Musikpraxis. Winterthur, Switzerland: Amadeus, 1977–.

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                                    A prestigious journal from one of the great institutions of performance-practice studies, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.

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                                    • Early Music. London (then Oxford and New York): Oxford University Press, 1973–.

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                                      One of the most influential English-language journals, widely read by both scholars and performers.

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                                      • Eighteenth-Century Music. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004–.

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                                        A relatively new entrant into the field, and perhaps still a little unclear on how to handle its century, but worth watching to see how it develops.

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                                        • Galpin Society Journal. Oxford, UK: Galpin Society, 1948–.

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                                          A venerable journal from a venerable society devoted to the history, construction, development, and use of musical instruments.

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                                          • Journal of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music. 1995–

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                                            A pioneering venture from the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, taking full advantage of the web to combine text, sound, and image.

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                                            • Recercare: Rivista per lo studio e la pratica della musica antica. Lucca, Italy: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 1989–.

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                                              Although this is the journal of the Società Italiana del Flauto Dolce (= recorder), this impressive journal has a wide range of articles (some in English) on performance-practice issues.

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                                              The Baroque Arts and Society

                                              If “Baroque” is to mean anything in music-historical terms, one must presume that the production (however defined) and consumption (ditto) of music in the period has something in common with the other arts and with broader political, economic, and social contexts. Musicologists are commonly torn between the need to give a coherent account of their subject on its own terms, and the sense that this subject belongs to a broader discourse; scholars of other disciplines tend to place music on the margins, if anywhere at all. De Vries 1976 remains an important economic history, even if the “crisis” scenario has been disputed in recent years. Cowart 1981 prompts connections with philosophy; Hauser 2000, Maniates 1979, and Tapié 1966 with the visual arts; Skrine 1978 with literature; and Kevorkian 2007 and O’Malley 1999–2006 with religion.

                                              • Cowart, Georgia. The Origins of Modern Musical Criticism: French and Italian Music, 1600–1750. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1981.

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                                                This revision of the author’s doctoral dissertation (Rutgers University, 1980) is important for placing contemporary discourses on music in broader aesthetic and philosophical contexts, as well as for explaining just what “music” might have meant in the period.

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                                                • de Vries, Jan. The Economy of Europe in an Age of Crisis, 1600–1750. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

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                                                  While Baroque music might seem relatively stable (and also monolithic) it was in fact generated in a turbulent age of war, religious conflict, and economic crisis. De Vries ignores the arts, but musicians’ lives were certainly affected (Heinrich Schütz is an obvious example), as was their output.

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                                                  • Hauser, Arnold. The Social History of Art. 3d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

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                                                    The classic survey first published in 1951. Volume 2 covers Renaissance, Mannerism, and Baroque, and Volume 3, Rococo, Classicism, and Romanticism. Music barely figures, although there are profitable comparisons to be made with Hauser’s reading of other artworks.

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                                                    • Kevorkian, Tanya. Baroque Piety: Religion, Society, and Music in Leipzig, 1650–1750. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                      A religious institutional study aimed at providing a context for the music of J. S. Bach and others.

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                                                      • Maniates, Maria Rika. Mannerism in Italian Music and Culture, 1530–1630. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979.

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                                                        An important attempt to unite music and the other arts in dealing with the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque via an intermediate stage (or perhaps, intermediate period) of Mannerism. Published in the UK by Manchester University Press.

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                                                        • O’Malley, John W., Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Steven J. Harris, and T. Frank Kennedy, eds. The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts 1540–1773. 2 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999–2006.

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                                                          The proceedings of two conferences (1997, 2002) covering worldwide Jesuit activities. The essays are indispensable for understanding how the Catholic Church used the arts, and particularly music, as an instrument for spiritual uplift, devotional exercise, and aggressive conversion.

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                                                          • Skrine, Peter N. The Baroque: Literature and Culture in Seventeenth Century Europe. London: Methuen, 1978.

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                                                            A useful overview, although “culture” tends to be narrowly defined.

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                                                            • Tapié, Victor-Lucien. The Age of Grandeur: Baroque Art and Architecture. 2d ed. Translated by A. Ross Williamson. New York: Praeger, 1966.

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                                                              A translation of Tapié’s classic Baroque et classicisme (Paris: Plon, 1957), which provides essential background for the music of Lully and his contemporaries.

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                                                              Geographical Surveys

                                                              One of the challenges of studying Baroque music is the lack of a clear canon of “great” composers succeeding each other in a logical sequence; this is particularly true for the second half of the 17th century. However, the continuing formation of nation-states during the 17th and early 18th centuries, and their increasingly rigid oppositions on political and religious grounds, enables surveys of music by country more easily for the Baroque period than for earlier ones. Music could certainly cross national boundaries—“Italian” opera composers and performers (or perhaps better, Neapolitan and Venetian ones) dominated theaters across Europe save those in France—and musicians had a surprising degree of mobility through the Old World and New World. But composers and performers also became strongly aware of distinctions and differences in the ways of writing music, as well as playing or singing it, leading to often bitter arguments over the perceived merits of national styles (as in the mid-18th-century Querelle des bouffons between the supporters of Italian and French opera), and to the cultivation of specific genres, styles, and performance practices that assert identity (the French tragédie en musique), play with it (Bach’s “French” and “English” suites—although the labels are not his—or his “Italian” concerto), or seek some kind of réunion des goûts (to cite a term adopted by François Couperin). Diack Johnstone and Fiske 1990 and Spink 1992 cover Britain; Anthony 1997 covers France; Webber 1996 deals with Germany; and Carter 1992 and Fenlon and Carter 1995 deal with Italy. Buelow 1994 and Price 1994 each contain a spread of essays on different European centers.

                                                              • Anthony, James R. French Baroque Music: From Beaujoyeulx to Rameau. Rev. ed. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1997.

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                                                                The classic survey first published in 1973 (London: Batsford) by one of the great scholars in the field. Remains essential reading.

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                                                                • Buelow, George J., ed. The Late Baroque Era: From the 1680s to 1740. Music and Society. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.

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                                                                  A collaborative volume also published in the UK (Houndmills, UK: Macmillan, 1993) within the less fortunately titled series Man and Music, originally designed to accompany a proposed television series. Chapters cover music in the main European centers. For the earlier period, see Price 1994.

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                                                                  • Carter, Tim. Music in Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Italy. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1992.

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                                                                    A textbook-style overview of the period 1540–1620 that emphasizes continuities over the period divide.

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                                                                    • Diack Johnstone, H., and Roger Fiske, eds. The Blackwell History of Music in Britain. Vol. 4. The Eighteenth Century. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1990.

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                                                                      Like its companion Spink 1992, this collection of essays seeks to negotiate the implications of its series title (“. . . Music in Britain” rather than “British Music”) by dealing not just with native musicians but also with foreign imports and the cosmopolitan issues that ensue.

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                                                                      • Fenlon, Iain, and Tim Carter, eds. “Con che soavità”: Studies in Italian Opera, Song, and Dance, 1580–1740. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995.

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                                                                        Essays on secular music on topics from Monteverdi to Vivaldi.

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                                                                        • Price, Curtis, ed. The Early Baroque Era: From the Late 16th Century to the 1660s. Music and Society. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.

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                                                                          A collaborative volume also published in the UK (Houndmills, UK: Macmillan, 1993) in the same series, and with the same intent, as Buelow 1994. The main European centers are covered.

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                                                                          • Spink, Ian, ed. The Blackwell History of Music in Britain. Vol. 3. The Seventeenth Century. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1992.

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                                                                            A convincing attempt to deal with a notoriously “difficult” (for England) century given the disruption of the Civil War.

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                                                                            • Webber, Geoffrey. North German Church Music in the Age of Buxtehude. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1996.

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                                                                              Despite the seemingly narrow repertory, Webber offers an important account of political, social, and institutional contexts in broad area that is particularly difficult to define in geopolitical terms.

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                                                                              Repertory Studies

                                                                              Just as it becomes easier during the 17th and early 18th centuries to define music according to national styles, it is also possible to identify genre-specific ones. By one reckoning, opera drives the engine: the genre swept the field during the period and also offered a proving-ground for new mediums (solo singing to a basso continuo accompaniment), for new styles and forms (recitative and aria), and for modes of dramatic/emotional expression often deemed most typical of the Baroque. Sacred music has tended to occupy a lesser role in scholarship on the period until the time of Bach and Handel, which raises interesting questions also about modern prejudices. The rise of “independent” instrumental music—able to function and even communicate without the aid of words—is often regarded as characteristic of the period, although debates still raged over whether its unmediated appeal to the senses was a sign of its inferiority or the opposite.

                                                                              Opera and Theater Music

                                                                              Despite the eventual domination of opera in the period, music was used in a wide range of theatrical contexts, ranging from spoken plays with musical intermedi to large-scale feste teatrali involving scenic spectacle and dance. “Opera” (the term was not used at the time) emerged in Florence in the late 16th century and had a sporadic existence in the north Italian courts by way of Claudio Monteverdi and others and in Rome via Luigi Rossi—often competing unsuccessfully with other types of entertainment—prior to the opening of the first “public” opera house in Venice in 1637. Thereafter, the Venetian model fixed primarily by Francesco Cavalli, as covered by Rosand 1991, spread north of the Alps through the works of Antonio Cesti and Agostino Steffani, established strong Neapolitan and Roman roots by way of Alessandro Scarlatti, and led to the international style of Handel and Johann Adolf Hasse (see Strohm 1997). Some other countries preserved independent theatrical traditions: the ballet de cour (as covered in Christout 2005) and then the tragédies en musique of Lully and Rameau so central to the projection of authority in the France of the Bourbon kings (see Wood 1996); in England (see Walls 1996) and Spain (see Stein 1993), spoken plays with varying degrees of music leading to the so-called semi-operas of Purcell and others (see Winkler 2006); and even, a nascent tradition of German opera, particularly in Hamburg, by Reinhard Keiser and Georg Philipp Telemann. Some of these traditions reflected deep suspicion not just of the Italians but also of opera as a genre, given its inherent problems of verisimilitude. Even in the case of Italian opera, there was also a constant debate about the relative weights of poetry and music, as treated by Fabbri 2003. In the late 17th century, the members of the Arcadian Academy sought to purify the genre of its musical and other abuses, producing an elegant style of poetic writing that reached its apogee in the librettos of Pietro Metastasio from the 1720s on. However, this brand of opera seria soon came under pressure from the rise of the comic genre of opera buffa: for the latter, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s La serva padrona (1733) has often been viewed as the prototype, although there are precedents.

                                                                              • Christout, Marie-Françoise. Le ballet de cour de Louis XIV, 1643–1672: Mises en scène. Paris: Picard, 2005.

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                                                                                First published in 1967, this chronicles the ballets and comédies-ballets created and staged by Lully and his contemporaries, including listings of personnel for the first performances.

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                                                                                • Fabbri, Paolo. Il secolo cantante: Per una storia del libretto d’opera in Italia nel Seicento. Rome: Bulzoni, 2003.

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                                                                                  Fabbri’s account, first published in 1990 (Bologna: Il Mulino), focuses largely on the libretto but also has broader musical points to make.

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                                                                                  • Rosand, Ellen. Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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                                                                                    The most important overview of the repertory from 1637 until the 1680s or so. Rosand negotiates a massive repertory by way of a topical approach. Best read in conjunction with Glixon and Glixon 2006, cited under Performance Practices.

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                                                                                    • Stein, Louise K. Songs of Mortals, Dialogues of the Gods: Music and Theatre in Seventeenth-Century Spain. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1993.

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                                                                                      A pathbreaking study of theatrical music in Spain, with some important references also to the New World.

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                                                                                      • Strohm, Reinhard. Dramma per musica: Italian Opera seria of the Eighteenth Century. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                        Covers the repertory from Handel through Hasse and across a wide range of European centers.

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                                                                                        • Walls, Peter. Music in the English Courtly Masque, 1604–1640. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1996.

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                                                                                          A good account of a repertory often treated largely in literary terms. Walls engages in significant detective work to uncover the (often fragmentary) musical sources and to place them in a dramatic context.

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                                                                                          • Winkler, Amanda Eubanks. “O let us howle some heavy note”: Music for Witches, the Melancholic, and the Mad on the Seventeenth-Century English Stage. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                            Builds on important trends in recent scholarship in terms of gendered representation on the musical stage, considering music’s ability to inscribe but also resist political, religious, and social ideologies.

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                                                                                            • Wood, Caroline. Music and Drama in the “Tragédie en musique,” 1673–1715: Jean-Baptiste Lully and his Successors. New York: Garland, 1996.

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                                                                                              A revision of Wood’s doctoral dissertation (University of Hull [UK], 1981) that offers a broad introduction to the repertory and its issues.

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                                                                                              Sacred Music

                                                                                              Despite the fact that Baroque scholars have often preferred to focus on new developments in secular music, the Church and related institutions (confraternities, convents, etc.) remained the place where music was most often heard. Following the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and during the “Counter-Reformation” (or “Catholic Reformation”), the Catholic Church and its music emerged with new vigor across Italy (Roche 1984), France (Launay 1993), and the Habsburg Empire (Saunders 1995). Most Protestant churches, except for the most ascetic ones, also used music as an essential part of the service (Spink 1995). Liturgies can usually be divided into elements that are “Ordinary” (i.e., common to every service) and “Proper” (i.e., variable according to the Feast). In 17th-century sacred music, a distinction emerged between a stile antico (vocal polyphony in the Renaissance style of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina) and a stile moderno (or stile concertato), using voices and instruments in modern idioms. However, these styles are not so much “old” and “new,” as coexistent depending on liturgical function (e.g., Mass Ordinaries are often in the stile antico whereas music for the Office, such as Vespers, could be stile moderno) or institutional preference (e.g., the Sistine Chapel in Rome adhered to the “Palestrina style”): Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 Mass and Vespers reveals the distinction. Latin remained the language of the Catholic liturgy, whereas most Protestant ones used the vernacular save in specific circumstances (e.g., J. S. Bach’s B-Minor Mass). Sacred genres such as the motet, the sacred concerto or geistliches Konzert (Giovanni Gabrieli, Heinrich Schütz), anthem (John Blow, Henry Purcell), and cantata (Dieterich Buxtehude, J. S. Bach) could be used within or outside the liturgy and also in other devotional environments such as confraternities or convents (Kendrick 1996), or as spiritual exercises in domestic contexts (Noske 1992; for Germany, see also Webber 1996, cited under Geographical Surveys). In royal chapels, such genres also often served broader political purposes (to celebrate weddings, baptisms, notable victories, etc.) or as vehicles for conspicuous consumption (Henri Du Mont’s grands motets for the French court provide examples of both). Oratorios—dramatic representations of biblical narratives with or (later in the period) without staging—also played an important role in confraternities and elsewhere (Smither 1997–2000): the works of Giacomo Carissimi and Alessandro Stradella in Italy, and Schütz in Germany provide good examples, while Handel turned the genre into a specific form of Lenten entertainment (Smith 1995). Purely instrumental repertories for church use are covered in the subsection on Instrumental Music.

                                                                                              • Kendrick, Robert L. Celestial Sirens: Nuns and their Music in Early Modern Milan. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1996.

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                                                                                                One of the pioneering studies of music in convents, covering Milan from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries, and also exploring contemporary arguments on whether or not women should be allowed to enjoy and display their musical talents in ecclesiastical environments.

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                                                                                                • Launay, Denise. La musique religieuse en France: Du Concile de Trente à 1804. Paris: Société Française de Musicologie, 1993.

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                                                                                                  A good overview of the repertory in a wide range of institutional and devotional contexts.

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                                                                                                  • Noske, Frits. Saints and Sinners: The Latin Musical Dialogue in the Seventeenth Century. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1992.

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                                                                                                    The first study of a spiritual genre that tends variously toward the dramatic. Covers Italian and some northern European repertories, and has a useful appendix of music transcriptions.

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                                                                                                    • Roche, Jerome. North Italian Church Music in the Age of Monteverdi. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1984.

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                                                                                                      A concise study that places Monteverdi in the context of his Venetian colleagues (in particular, Alessandro Grandi) and surveys institutions in other Italian regions.

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                                                                                                      • Saunders, Steven. Cross, Sword, and Lyre: Sacred Music at the Imperial Court of Ferdinand II of Habsburg (1619–1637). Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1995.

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                                                                                                        A cogent account of the political uses of music by the Habsburg court, also revealing the important place of Vienna and Prague as a musical crossroads for stylistic transmission between northern and southern Europe.

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                                                                                                        • Smith, Ruth. Handel’s Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511470240E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Ranges far beyond its immediate subject to explore the influence of contemporary literature, aesthetics, politics, and religion on its uniquely British subject.

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                                                                                                          • Smither, Howard E. A History of the Oratorio. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977–2000.

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                                                                                                            A comprehensive four-volume overview through the 20th century that also extends to reception history. Volume 1 covers Italy, Vienna, and Paris in the Baroque period, and Volume 2 covers Protestant Germany and England.

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                                                                                                            • Spink, Ian. Restoration Cathedral Music, 1660–1714. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1995.

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                                                                                                              Surveys the main English institutions in terms musical forces and repertories.

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                                                                                                              Vocal Chamber Music

                                                                                                              Giulio Caccini’s collection of through-composed madrigals and strophic arias for solo voice and basso continuo published as Le nuove musiche (1602) created a fashion for so-called monodies that captured the Baroque desire for immediate affective expression by way of virtuoso song (see Hill 1997, Leopold 1995). The older-style polyphonic madrigal typical of the Renaissance tended to fall out of fashion, even if it retained a hold through the 17th century in some academic circles and also in parts of northern Europe. Composer such as Claudio Monteverdi, however, preferred more complex musical textures than Caccini’s, writing duets or pieces for larger combinations of voices and instruments in the stile moderno. By mid-century, solo song had become formalized as the cantata in the hands of Luigi Rossi and Giacomo Carissimi, developing into a multimovement work linking narrative recitatives and expressive arias, as studied in Talbot 2009. Song forms, whether aping the Italian or drawing on native traditions, spread widely across Europe, with particularly strong showings in England via John Dowland and Henry Purcell (see Spink 1974), Germany with Heinrich Abert (see Thomas 1963), and the French air de cour and its successors (see Durosoir 2006). These repertories variously catered for professional singers and the amateur market; the former generally kept their music in manuscript, whereas music prints tended to serve domestic consumers, except where individuals were able to maintain private manuscript collections, often miscellanies, for their own use.

                                                                                                              • Durosoir, Georgie, ed. Poésie, musique et société: L’air de cour en France au XVIIe siècle. Wavre: Mardaga, 2006.

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                                                                                                                A collaborative volume focusing on the reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII.

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                                                                                                                • Hill, John Walter. Roman Monody, Cantata, and Opera from the Circles around Cardinal Montalto. 2 vols. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1997.

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                                                                                                                  Covers Italian repertory from the early 1590s to 1620s, while also raising important issues of patronage. Volume 2 is a useful anthology.

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                                                                                                                  • Leopold, Silke. “Al modo d’Orfeo”: Dichtung und Musik im italienischen Sologesang des frühen 17. Jahrhunderts. Analecta musicologica 29. 2 vols. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 1995.

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                                                                                                                    A comprehensive account of Italian monody from the late 16th century through the 1620s. Leopold also says a great deal about Italian poetry in the period.

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                                                                                                                    • Spink, Ian. English Song: Dowland to Purcell. New York: Scribner’s, 1974.

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                                                                                                                      The classic survey covering printed and manuscript repertories; also useful for scholars of 17th-century English poetry.

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                                                                                                                      • Talbot, Michael, ed. Aspects of the Secular Cantata in Late Baroque Italy. Farnham, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.

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                                                                                                                        Essays by leading scholars on the repertory from 1650 to 1750, also with one on the French cantata tradition.

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                                                                                                                        • Thomas, R. Hinton. Poetry and Song in the German Baroque: A Study of the Continuo Lied. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1963.

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                                                                                                                          A slightly dated account but with extensive music examples.

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                                                                                                                          Instrumental Music

                                                                                                                          Instrumental music in the Renaissance—when not improvised or dance-related—tended to rely on arrangements of (or the style of) contemporary vocal polyphony. The Baroque period saw the rise of more independent instrumental genres with their own forms, syntax, and even expressive power, although many disagreed over whether music without a text could communicate anything at all (see also Dell’Antonio 1997, cited under Music-Theoretical Issues). The Renaissance principal of grouping instruments of the same family in “consorts” across the range (soprano viol, tenor viol, bass viol, etc.) tended to dissolve in favor of more soloistic writing, in particular for the violin thanks to the talents of such virtuosos as Biagio Marini, Heinrich Biber, and Arcangelo Corelli (see Boyden 1990 and Wulf 1996). The cornetto, recorder, and even trumpet also found some favor as solo instruments. Genres ranged from the canzona and solo sonata, through the trio sonata for two upper parts and continuo (see Allsop 1992), to various concerto forms, whether for solo instrument or in the concerto grosso format with a group of concertino instruments (say, two violins and a bass instrument) and a ripieno band (see Barnett 2008 and Selfridge-Field 1994). However, pieces for (larger) instrumental ensembles without any soloistic elements could also be called concertos, as would be the case with, say, Handel’s “Water” or “Fireworks” music. Contemporary music prints often designated instrumental works as da camera (for the chamber) or da chiesa (for the church), although the consequences for musical form and style are not as clear as once thought. Keyboard music fell into two broad but not mutually exclusive categories (Marshall 2003 and Silbiger 2004). Music for organ served in liturgical or related environments, with the Baroque period producing a range of virtuosos from Girolamo Frescobaldi (Rome) through Guillaume Gabriel Nivers (Paris), Jan Pieterzoon Sweelinck (Amsterdam), and Juan Bautista Cabanilles (Valencia), to J. S. Bach; music for harpsichord or other plucked keyboard instrument could often be presented in suites (Johann Jacob Froberger, François Couperin, J. S. Bach) and serve for recitals or domestic music making. The French and English also retained strong traditions of virtuoso writing for the viol (for France, Marin Marais), while the five-course Spanish guitar had an enormous vogue across Europe and the New World (Hudson 1982).

                                                                                                                          • Allsop, Peter. The Italian “Trio” Sonata: From Its Origins until Corelli. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1992.

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                                                                                                                            A major in-depth study. The scare-quotes around “trio” in the title reflect the problem of whether a trio-sonata is for three instruments (say, two violins and a chordal continuo instrument) or four or more (e.g., with one or more separate instruments doubling the continuo’s bass line).

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                                                                                                                            • Barnett, Gregory Richard. Bolognese Instrumental Music, 1660–1710: Spiritual Comfort, Courtly Delight, and Commercial Triumph. Farnham, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.

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                                                                                                                              A valuable account of a major center that also places the repertory in broader institutional and social contexts. Add this to Selfridge-Field 1994 to get a fuller sense of developments in northern Italy, although Rome remains a gap best covered at the moment by studies of individual composers such as Arcangelo Corelli.

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                                                                                                                              • Boyden, David D. The History of Violin Playing from its Origins to 1761 and Its Relationship to the Violin and Violin Music. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                This important book, first published in 1965, focuses in particular on the development of idiomatic techniques and their impact on performers and composers.

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                                                                                                                                • Hudson, R. The Folia, the Saraband, the Passacaglia, and the Chaconne: The Historical Evolution of Four Forms that Originated in Music for the Five-Course Spanish Guitar. 4 vols. Stuttgart, Germany: American Institute of Musicology, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                  These dance forms, and the harmonic patterns associated with them, also had significant influence on compositional techniques during the Baroque period, not least in terms of ground basses and other ostinato patterns.

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                                                                                                                                  • Marshall, Robert L., ed. Eighteenth-Century Keyboard Music. 2d ed. New York and London: Routledge, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                    A collection of essays focusing largely on music for harpsichord, clavichord, and piano from Bach to early Beethoven. The first edition appeared in 1994 (New York: Schirmer).

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                                                                                                                                    • Selfridge-Field, Eleanor. Venetian Instrumental Music from Gabrieli to Vivaldi. 3d ed. New York: Dover, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                      First published in 1975 (New York: Praeger), this is a good account of composers and their music. Barnett 2008 fills out the picture for Bologna, and therefore the two books provide good coverage of northern Italy, though not the Rome of Arcangelo Corelli.

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                                                                                                                                      • Silbiger, Alexander, ed. Keyboard Music before 1700. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                        A collection of essays first published in 1995 (New York: Schirmer) with excellent coverage by experts in their fields for England, France, Germany and The Netherlands, Italy, and Spain and Portugal, as well as performance practices, in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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                                                                                                                                        • Wulf, Konold, ed. Deutsch-italienische Musikbeziehungen: Deutsche und italienische Instrumentalmusik 1600–1750. Munich: Katzbichler, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                          Conference papers presented during the International Organ Week in Nuremberg in 1984, covering the connections between German and Italian keyboard and ensemble music.

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                                                                                                                                          Music-Theoretical Issues

                                                                                                                                          There is a fundamental dilemma over whether music should be analyzed within the theoretical frameworks current at its time (Christensen and Dejans 2007), or whether one can apply any analytical technique that seems to bring results. Of course, similar issues face performers who support, or oppose, historically informed performance practice. A good number of 17th- and early-18th-century music-theory texts in Latin and Italian are available online within the series Thesaurus Musicus Latinarum and Saggi musicali italiani from Indiana University’s Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature; useful translations of selected texts are also available in Strunk 1998. However, one problem with contemporary treatises is often that either they are primers on musical fundamentals, or they engage in arcane debates; in both cases, they seem distant from the fine art of musical composition. Yet to identify, say, a Corelli trio sonata as being in the G-Dorian mode and not in G minor matters in terms of changing our expectations of how the piece should behave. Much hinges on questions of semiotics, i.e., how this music might convey meaning (see Berger 1995, Dell’Antonio 1997, and Steblin 2002), and on whether it is somehow transitional between Renaissance and Classical harmonic languages (see Dahlhaus 1990). And even seemingly arcane theoretical debates on such topics as tuning and temperament do in fact have a quite precise impact on performance, as dealt with in Barbour 2004. One analytical technique with some 17th-century justification (mostly in German music theory) has found favor: identifying the use of specific musical patterns to represent individual words or groups thereof in a text in the manner of rhetorical figures of speech (see Bartel 1997). The method has been used to good effect in analyzing music from Schütz to Bach, although it becomes controversial the more it moves beyond the commonplace.

                                                                                                                                          • Barbour, J. Murray. Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                            First published in 1951 (East Lansing: Michigan State College Press), this is a somewhat dated but still useful and readable account of the issues. The Baroque period necessarily figures quite prominently.

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                                                                                                                                            • Bartel, Dietrich. Musica poetica: Musical-rhetorical Figures in German Baroque Music. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                              The best entry point into music and rhetoric. A revised and enlarged English edition of Bartel’s Handbuch der musikalischen Figurenlehre (Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 1985, revised in 1997).

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                                                                                                                                              • Berger, Karol. “Review-Essay on Gary Tomlinson, Music in Renaissance Magic (1993).” Journal of Musicology 13 (1995): 404–423.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1525/jm.1995.13.3.03a00050E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                A typically trenchant critique of recent attempts to apply Foucault’s theories of resemblance and representation to the semiotics of late Renaissance and early Baroque music.

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                                                                                                                                                • Christensen, Thomas Street, and Peter Dejans, eds. Towards Tonality: Aspects of Baroque Music Theory. Collected Writings of the Orpheus Institute 6. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                  Seven important essays based on lectures presented at the International Orpheus Academy for Music and Theory under the title “Historical Theory, Performance, and Meaning in Baroque Music.” Topics range from the purposes of music theory in the period through the question of tonality (taking issue with Dahlhaus 1990) to issues of acoustics.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Dahlhaus, Carl. Studies on the Origin of Harmonic Tonality. Translated by R. O. Gjerdingen. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                    A translation of Untersuchungen über die Entstehung der harmonischen Tonalität (Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1968). Although Dahlhaus’s reading of the shift from modality to tonality is problematic in terms both of 17th-century theory and of modern analytical thinking, it remains an essential foundation for more recent work in the field.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Dell’Antonio, Andrew. Syntax, Form and Genre in Sonatas and Canzonas 1621–1635. Lucca, Italy: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                      A detailed study that establishes important paradigms and methodologies for considering the structure and semiotics of instrumental music in the period.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Saggi Musicali Italiani.

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                                                                                                                                                        An ongoing series of Italian music-theory treatises, including a number from the 17th and 18th centuries. The transcriptions are literal, without critical commentary, but can be searched. The parallel Thesaurus musicus latinarum also includes texts from the Baroque period, although Latin was now in less use for academic discourse.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Steblin, Rita. A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries, 2d ed. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                          First published in 1983 (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press), Steblin covers theoretical accounts of modal/tonal “keys” and their presumed affective qualities from the late 17th century on. While she is less strong on the structural consequences of composers’ tonal choices, she offers crucial ways of reading their expressive and semiotic consequences.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Strunk, Oliver. Source Readings in Music History, Rev. ed. Vol. 4, The Baroque Era. Edited by Margaret Murata. New York and London: Norton, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                            Strunk’s collection of translated extracts from music treatises, prefaces, dedications, and similar documents has long been an essential entrance into the field in terms of discovering who thought what about music of a given period.

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                                                                                                                                                            Performance Practices

                                                                                                                                                            Baroque music took the lead in what used to be called the “authenticity” movement—but is now more often referred to as Historically-Informed Performance (HIP)—in part because for a long time it was considered the oldest music worth reviving outside very narrow circles (see Donington 1982). However, HIP was also forced by the nature of the musical sources: given the emphasis on the virtuoso performer in the Baroque period, much of this music survives in what seems only a sketchlike form, with a figured bass instead of a written-out accompaniment (see Borgir 1987) and a melodic line requiring embellishment. This forces the performer to engage much more closely with what theorists and others might have said about bringing it to life, as seen in Cyr 1992. Baroque vocal music poses particular challenges because of its apparent differences from modern notions of technique (see Butt 1994, Ranum 2001). So, too, does opera because of questions of staging, etc. as dealt with in Glixon and Glixon 2006. Save for pockets of resistance (e.g., among pianists devoted to Bach), the merits of HIP, at least loosely defined, are now widely accepted (see Harnoncourt 1988), not least because they have been pushed by the modern recording industry. Even among its adherents, however, there remains room for fierce debates over, say, appropriate tempo relationships in Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, or how many singers it takes to perform Bach’s B-Minor Mass (similar problems are posed in Schmalzreidt 2006). And even the hippest advocate of HIP would balk at certain consequences: no one would dream of performing a late 17th-century cantata by Bernardo Pasquini with a choir of 100 plus 150 string players, as Arcangelo Corelli did in Rome in 1687, although Smither 1985 reveals that Victorian England took a different view of the Baroque work closest to its heart.

                                                                                                                                                            • Borgir, Tharald. The Performance of the Basso Continuo in Italian Baroque Music. Studies in Musicology 90. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                              Discusses issues of instrumentation, styles of performance, and tricky issues of how to realize the figured bass.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Butt, John. Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511597312E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                By considering the role of practical music in German education in the period, Butt offers intriguing insights also into performance practice, particularly concerning singers.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Cyr, Mary. Performing Baroque Music. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Covers most of the ground in a very effective way. There is also a paperback reprint (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1998).

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Donington, Robert. Baroque Music: Style and Performance; A Handbook. New York: Norton 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Now somewhat outdated, but Donington, a student of Arnold Dolmetsch, was a pioneer in the field of early-music performance, and although his survey reflects older viewpoints, it still exposes many of the issues. Comparison with Cyr 1992 also reveals how much changed as Baroque performance practices entered the mainstream.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Glixon, Jonathan E., and Beth L. Glixon. Inventing the Business of Opera: The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Although primarily a historical account based on a truly remarkable archival investigation, this book is essential for anyone considering how to stage 17th-century opera in the manner of the period. It provides an ideal complement to Rosand 1991, cited under Opera and Theater Music.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Harnoncourt, Nikolaus. Baroque Music Today: Music as Speech; Ways to a New Understanding of Music. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A translation of Harnoncourt’s Musik als Klangrede (Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 1983). Lectures by one of the great performers participating in the early-music revival.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Ranum, Patricia M. The Harmonic Orator: The Phrasing and Rhetoric of the Melody in French Baroque Airs. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A useful guide to the repertory, with some important information on vocal performance practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Schmalzreidt, Siegfried, ed. Aspekte der Musik des Barock: Aufführungspraxis und Stil. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Proceedings of symposia at the annual Handel Akademie, Karlsruhe, 2001–2004, that give a good indication of past, present, and possible future directions.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Smither, Howard. “Messiah and Progress in Victorian England.” Early Music 13 (1985): 339–348.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/13.3.339E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              A wonderful account of the uses (and abuses) of Handel’s famous oratorio as it became defined as ineffably “English,” and also became the performance-practice model against which the early-music movement reacted so strongly.

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