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A Gert History of Music


Baroque Music IV: Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Henry Purcell is the first in a distressingly lengthy list of composers whose lives were cut short in their primes.  Purcell, arguably the greatest English composer of all-time, was dead by the age of 36, leaving behind a wealth of wonderful compositions.  Like Mozart, he died shortly after completing his great funeral mass (Purcell’s was … Continue reading Baroque Music IV: Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Corelli and The Birth of the Orchestra

Corelli’s Opus 6 concerti grossi are his most significant achievement.  Although he did not invent the concerto grosso form, Corelli certainly popularized it, paving the way for Vivaldi (The Four Seasons) and Bach (Brandenburg Concertos), two of the high points of Baroque music and among the best-known examples of the concerto grosso form.  The Opus … Continue reading Corelli and The Birth of the Orchestra

Corelli and The Circle of Fifths

The Circle of Fifths is one of the great Conversations in music history, endlessly copied and cited by composers over the centuries.  As one musicologist observed: “Corelli’s harmonies were the most appreciated quality appreciated by his contemporaries and posterity alike. On the one hand, it is the clarity and regularity of progression, the musical escalator … Continue reading Corelli and The Circle of Fifths

More Lully: A Brief Coda

Jean-Baptiste Lully composed one of the most performed songs in history.  Nearly everyone in the world has heard it. The duties of a court composer were, shall we say, varied—particularly when dealing with that most mercurial of monarchs, Louis XIV.  In 1686, the Sun King developed a perianal abscess.  Court physicians attempted to treat the … Continue reading More Lully: A Brief Coda

Baroque Music II: Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)

Enter the French. With the English School well-established since Dunstable and the German School developing in the wake of Martin Luther, the French School began to reassert its influence in the 17th and 18th centuries. First up, Jean-Baptiste Lully, court composer to the Sun King, Louis XIV. Born to humble origins, Lully would climb to … Continue reading Baroque Music II: Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)

Late Monteverdi

In opera singers express their emotions directly to each other and indirectly to the audience—the fusing of drama between singer and audience is what powers opera to this day. And this is where it began, in earnest, with Monteverdi’s late opera Poppea, which was premiered to a paying audience in a public theatre. No more … Continue reading Late Monteverdi

Baroque Music I: Claudio Monteverdi, Part II, The Birth of Opera

The genius who birthed the Baroque was, as previewed last time, the great Renaissance composer Claudio Monteverdi.  Its birthplace was Florence, and the medium was opera.  Opera was midwifed in the Florentine Camerata, that group artists, philosophers, musicians, poets, and intellectuals at the end of the Renaissance who debated and studied the arts.  I previously … Continue reading Baroque Music I: Claudio Monteverdi, Part II, The Birth of Opera

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