The Age of Pericles: A History of the Politics and Arts of Greece from the Persian to the Peloponnesian War - Vol. 2

By William Watkiss Lloyd | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER LI.

MUSIC IN THE AGE OF PERICLES.

THE erection of the Odeum by Pericles, a vast covered structure of novel design especially suited for musical performances, is significant of the important changes that were proceeding about this time at Athens as well in musical taste as in musical art: these displays took the usual Hellenic form of competitions under the spur of emulation, whether for a simply honourable crown or for a prize of solid value in addition; and the musicians were not slower than the other artists of the period to respond to a universal demand for what was not only beautiful but of daring novelty.

The traditional chronology of Greece is marked into periods from very early times by a succession of musical schools and also of masters who were usually poets, and the fame of whose traditional inventions and performances was accepted with the utmost faith in historic times and confirmed, we are assured, to an important extent as well by references to them in abundant contemporary literature, as by the actual survival of their compositions.

Hellas made liberal acknowledgments for musical instruction to the neighbouring Asiatic states and to Thrace, and less distinctly to Egypt; but still, as in all the arts, claimed to have developed this also from most rudimentary beginnings by independent native genius. These pretensions, that seem often extravagant, are not without a certain justification;

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