The Encyclopedists as Critics of Music

The Encyclopedists as Critics of Music

The Encyclopedists as Critics of Music

The Encyclopedists as Critics of Music

Excerpt

The aim of the present work is to bring before the public a definitive study of the Encyclopedists' relations to eighteenth-century French music, based upon an examination of the references to music in their several works, together with an analysis of the articles on music and related arts in the Encyclopedia proper. The earliest students of this subject, Jullien, Tourneux, and Carlez, saw the need of an œuvre d'ensemble on music and the Encyclopedia , but it was not until Hirschberg published his doctoral dissertation that such a work became available. However, Hirschberg failed to study the very important writings on music of Cahusac and Marmontel, and did not consider the articles on music in the Encyclopedia . Like his predecessors, Hirschberg was more interested in the history of the opera in France than in the Encyclopedists' criticism of music, with the result that his study may be called a fragmentary history of the eighteenth-century French opera with occasional references to Encyclopedist comment on that art. He did not study the Encyclopedists' relations to the traditions of musical criticism set up by the late seventeenth-century classical writers and furthered by the generation of critics immediately preceding the Encyclopedia . The Encyclopedists' stand in the Bouffons' Quarrel, their controversy with Rameau, and their role in preparing the Gluck reform-opera were rather inadequately treated. Hirschberg's conclusion was that the Encyclopedists' work was mainly negative.

In the present study the history of musical criticism in France will be traced from the classical authors of the late seventeenth century to the Revolution. It will be seen that the Encyclopedists are the outstanding exponents of this new literary effort. Their position in this century of musical criticism in France will be found laid deep in French traditions, traditions which the Encyclopedists modified, but did not essentially disturb. The lacunae with reference to Cahusac and Marmontel will be filled, the articles on music in the Encyclopedia will be . . .

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