Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners

By Esther Singleton | Go to book overview

III
MUSIC

AMONG the accomplishments and entertainments, music held no small place; yet the music of colonial days differed very greatly from the art in favour at the present time. The world's popular composers then were Handel, Bach, Corelli, the two Scarlattis, Hasse, Jomelli, Haydn, Rameau, Purcell, Lulli, Gluck, Boccherini, Arne, Piccini, Geminiani and Tartini. We shall presently find that the music of these men was well- known in New York.

Vocal music was extremely florid. The air, invariably suave and sentimental, was overladen with ornamental turns, trills and flute-like runs and scale passages, demanding much execution, as well as grace and style, from the performers of both sexes.

The symphony had not yet been developed, for Haydn was now writing his chamber-music and had not produced those works that set the stamp upon this form. The sonata was barely throwing off the shackles of the suite, and in it the dance-forms still lingered, as they did in the quartets and quintets. Therefore, the most familiar forms of instrumental music were minuets, gigues, gavottes, rigadoons, sarabandes, allemandes, courantes, passepieds, bourrées, and chaconnes.

The violin was extremely popular, largely because

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