Poetry and Song in the German Baroque: A Study of the Continuo Lied

Poetry and Song in the German Baroque: A Study of the Continuo Lied

Poetry and Song in the German Baroque: A Study of the Continuo Lied

Poetry and Song in the German Baroque: A Study of the Continuo Lied

Excerpt

As anyone at all familiar with German baroque music will appreciate, a comprehensive account of the continuo lied would involve a veritable array of minor figures, most of whom would add nothing essential to the total picture. I have preferred a more economical and selective method, using analyses of carefully selected songs as focal points of larger and more general issues, and arranging them in accordance with a significant line of development. Also, this book is not a history of the continuo lied, but an inquiry into the relationship, in the lied, of poetry and music, and this has necessarily influenced my selection. It has led me to disregard a number of composers who could not be passed over in a book governed only by musical considerations, and, as far as possible, I have chosen my songs so that the text of each has some merit or interest as poetry.

It is because this book is concerned with the continuo lied that Schütz and J. S. Bach figure only incidentally, and, in view of the predominant direction of the German continuo lied in this period, I have placed my emphasis on secular song. The poems dealt with in Chapter X are religious, but Briegel's song-cycle claims attention for various reasons. It occurs at a critical juncture in the history of the baroque lied and is not otherwise available in a complete modern edition. Moreover, Gryphius, though the best of the German baroque poets, was conspicuously neglected by other composers, and my subject required that a place should be found for him in my book.

Musical quotations are transcribed into their modern form, but, as in the original practice, only the bass line is given in the continuo part. A simple realization of the bass, especially in the longer examples, could give an inadequate, and even misleading, impression to those unfamiliar with the proper performance of baroque music, and experts will be in a position to fill out the bass with their own improvisations. The only exception to this principle occurs in Chapter XII, where my analysis of a song of Handel requires detailed reference to the fuller harmonic implications. Musical and literary titles are given as in the original, but, as far as possible, texts of songs and quotations from poetry have been modernized to ease matters for readers who may be musicians rather German scholars.

I must express my gratitude to publishers who most generously have . . .

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