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Overview Instrumental Music J S Bach


The 18th Century:
Overview

     The 1700s began as the full flowering of the beginning of "late baroque" music, and secular music which arose during the previous century has now overtaken sacred music as the dominant musical force. The Concerto Grosso, developed by Corelli and Torelli, two composers of the Bologna school, and Corelli's development of tonality began spreading into Germany and Northern Europe around 1700. Additionally, Corelli's release on January 1, 1700 of his set of violin sonatas, Opus 5, will turn the music world on it's heels.
     Contemporary violinist Andrew Manze, director of the Academy of Ancient Music, has written that Corelli's Opus 5 constitutes:

"Arguably the finest and most influential [set of violin sonatas] ever assembled. This publication was the single most important musical link between the shadowlands of the seventeeth century and the eighteenth's Newtonian Enlightenment. All other baroque sonatas can be defined as being pre- or post-Corelli."

     Although we don't agree with his concept of 'shadowlands', this quote shows what a respected violinist has to say about Corelli.
     The new century will see the full flowering of the Baroque with the works of the great master J.S. Bach, the last and the greatest of the Baroque masters. Bach died in 1750 as an unknown organist, while his son C.P.E. Bach helped pioneer the lighter rococo, or gallant style of music that moved away from the more serious and learned baroque style. C.P.E. and brother Christian will be a major influence on Haydn and Mozart who will create the final flowering of the century where the concerto grosso from the previous century will be transformed into the piano concertos of Mozart, and the the final form of the symphony and string quartet will be created out of the ashes of the trio sonata and the sinfonia. The story goes, however, that after the initial influence of Bach's famous sons earlier in Mozart's life, later Mozart will discover rare copies of the elder J.S. Bach's cantatas and motets in one of the churches where Bach had previous been employed and, as the story goes, exclaimed "At last, I now have someone to learn from!" In his last works, Mozart moved away from his springy, formal, and sometimes superficial works of earlier days, to which his last symphonies give ardent testimony.
     The century will end with the full flowering of tonality with these forms that will become the germ for the great music of the Romantic Era of the following century.

Overview Instrumental Music J S Bach

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