Music History 101.1
1450 to 1700
Hello all! For this week I’ve chosen a very simplified walk through music history from the beginning of the Renaissance (approx 1400) to the end of the Baroque era (1750 or so).Keep in mind Baroque music starts around 1600. Questions or comments, please feel free! So without further adieu, here is…
Guillaume Du Fay (1387-1474) Franco-Flemish, generally considered the greatest composer of the 15th century. This music is chant-like as we are coming out of the Medieval age. Note one of the vocal lines is being played by a sackbut (pre-trombone).
Josquin des Prez (1450-1521) Also Franco Flemish, became the most influential composer in Europe, partially due to development of music printing. Martin Luther declared him to be “the master of the notes.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQVHL03d8HU
Jacob Obrecht (1457-1505) another composer from the Low Countries, a hotbed of Renaissance music. Somewhat in the shadow of des Prez, he was a master of independently rhythmic voices (counterpoint) as you can hear in this trio. Note that the middle recorder player has the ‘long tune’ or cantus firmus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1ewWKDuSfk
Giovanni da Palestrina (1535-1594) the composer whom so many admired later including Bach, Mendelssohn and especially Brahms. He established polyphony (more than two melodic voices happening at once) as a major trait of the late Renaissance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VniL5Et7Ho4
John Dowland (1563-1626) English lutenist and singer. Here is the most popular tune of the day, sung by Sting (that’s right). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYdIJIcZaP4
Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) most famously known for the double murder of his wife and her lover. His music is wayout there for the times. Such dissonances were not heard again until the late 19th century! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dVPu71D8VI
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) was controversial in his time for new ideas (basso continuo, fast changing rhythms). You could say he helped kick start the Baroque age and moved music out of the Renaissance period. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iK8Kt5_vj8
Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) lutenist and renowned singer of her time in Venice. Single mother of three! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCQbMyJobO0
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) violinist, dancer, and politically powerful court musician to Louis XlV. With Moliere he created comedie-ballet which combined theater, comedy, music and dancing. Born of Italian parents, he was the first to create a ‘French’ style in the Baroque age.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IL6zasoTbg
Heinrich Biber (1644-1704) Bohemian-Austrian violin virtuoso who used skordatura (changing the pitch of strings) tuning to the max. In this one of 16 Mystery (or Rosary) Sonatas, 3 out of 4 strings have been tuned up or down by a whole step. A fascinating performance! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM8IwFJLf94
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) another violinist-composer, his work advanced the role of the violin in smaller ensemblesand inspired the likes of Bach and Handel. Founder of the concerto grosso…an excerpt follows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJCV68OHUiw
The next 5 are all contemporaries. I could have included Telemann but had to draw the line somewhere 🙁
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) the Red Priest, violin virtuoso, 500 concertos, 50 operas, widely admired across Europe. Bach transcribed 10 of Vivaldi’s works. No copyright back then – it was all fair game! Here is an exquisite vocal moment:
..and last movement of a double concerto
Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) Bohemian born and Vienna trained, his music is idiosyncratic and often compared to JS Bach.A very competent violone (double bass) player, his instrumental bass parts could be challenging. Note the bassoon in this trio sonata! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5kveeWDHSY
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) mostly known for opera, a medium he took up at the age of 50! His style was seen asa radical departure from the popular Lully but the French public soon warmed up to his music. Here is an overture.
George Frederic Handel (1685-1759) The man borrowed often, including from his own works. Here’s an exuberant piece ‘recycled’ for two orchestras!
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) He composed over 300 cantatas (100 lost) within 3 years at Leipzig. Our finale is the final chorus from Cantata 63.
Hope you enjoyed! Next week–Music 101: 1700 to 1827 (Beethoven’s death)
Stay well and safe,
This is one in a series of online guided listening programs that replaced our in-person “Musical Salons” hosted by Moby Pearson. This one was created on 4/7/2020.
Explore the list of online Salons.