ITALIAN INFLUENCE: SCARLATTI
PURCELL died in 1695 and it so happened that there was no English composer living who was equal to carrying on his work for the theatre. Early in the following century an attempt was made to introduce Italian opera in London, and though the first efforts were not in themselves very successful, Italian opera soon became so firmly established that it exists there still. There was nothing surprising about this. Paris was the only great city which supported an opera of its own in its own language. The German courts all had their Italian operas, and Hamburg was becoming gradually Italianized; Keiser's operas were often sung in a mixture of Italian and German. Madrid and Lisbon set up their Italian operas in the course of the century; Copenhagen and St. Petersburg did the same. All over Europe Italian was the language of music, except in France, and even France had eventually to yield to the Italian invasion, though it did so by the process of swallowing the Italian composers, as it did Lulli, and doing its best to make Frenchmen of them.
In saying that Italian was the language of music, it is not meant that all musicians habitually talked Italian, or even that they always set Italian words to music; though even in the matter of spoken language Italian was certainly the one in which musicians of different nationalities would most probably converse with each other. When Dr. Burney travelled over most of Europe in 1770-72 in search of materials for his History of Music, he seems to have found Italian the most useful language, as he had very little knowledge of German. Germany was overrun with Italian musicians, and German musicians had to Italianize their musical style if they wanted to be anything more distinguished than mere church organists. Ever since about 1600 German musicians, if they could possibly manage it, had gone
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: A Musical Companion:A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music. Contributors: John Erskine - Editor. Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1935. Page number: 207.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.