A Musical Companion: A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music

By John Erskine | Go to book overview

ORCHESTRAL MUSIC OF MANTKINDS

CHAPTER I
MAINLY OF SUITES

I HAVE ANALYSED the symphony at some length, for it is by far the most important branch of orchestral music, a subject not to be dismissed in a few generalizations. By comparison with it the many other forms, though of immense interest in themselves, are less significant. Since the days of the "Sinfonia avanti l'opera," suites, overtures, rhapsodies, variations, divertimentos, serenades, tone-poems, symphonic poems, dances, impressions, ballets, preludes, fantasias, capriccios, marches, scherzos, idylls, scenes, romances, music for string and wind combinations, and many other examples of orchestral art have multiplied to a bewildering extent. To classify them all here would give my narrative the appearance of a telephone directory--which would be fair neither to the reader nor to myself.

In pre-symphonic days the orchestral repertoire was very limited indeed. There were a few suites, overtures, fantasias, ballets, concertos for strings, by Purcell, Lulli, Corelli, Bach, Handel, and others, and little else. Music for strings largely occupied the attention of these composers, and much of what was written still graces the programs of the twentieth century. The Concerti Grossi by Handel and Corelli are masterpieces of classical design and beauty; their frequent performance testifies to their worth. Nor must we forget those many beautiful string pieces by Purcell. Of Bach's Brandenburg concertos and of Handel "Water Music" mention has already been made.

Bach, in company with Corelli, Handel, and others of his time, may be said to have perfected the older suite form. But, if we except those by Bach, the true orchestral suite as we now know it was the product of a later age. There was, too, an intermediate post-symphonic stage of the suite when Mozart wrote many under the titles of Divertimento

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A Musical Companion: A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Music *
  • Title Page i
  • Acknowledgment iii
  • Introductory Note v
  • Contents ix
  • Book I - The ABC of Music 1
  • Musical Notation 3
  • The Fundamentals of Music 19
  • Form 27
  • The Orchestra and Other Instruments 39
  • Book II - The Orchestra and Orchestral Music 53
  • The Rise of the Orchestra 55
  • The Expansion of the Orchestra 78
  • The Orchestra as Instrument 93
  • Orchestral Music; "Absolute" Music and the Symphonists 130
  • Orchestral Music of Mantkinds 174
  • Book III - Opera 189
  • How Opera Arose 191
  • The Eighteenth Century 207
  • From Mozart to Wagner 223
  • From Verdi to the Present Day 241
  • Book IV - The Human Voice 259
  • By Way of Introduction 261
  • The Polyphonic Period 268
  • English Song 284
  • Folk-Song 294
  • Oratorio and Other Choral Music 301
  • European Song in the Nineteenth Century 314
  • Vocal Music in the Twentieth Century 330
  • Book V - Chamber Music 341
  • Before Beethoven 343
  • From Beethoven to Brahms 364
  • National Schools 382
  • Britain 405
  • Modernism 421
  • Book VI - The Solo Instrument 431
  • Keyboard Instruments 433
  • Pianoforte and Violin Sonatas and Duets 468
  • The Violin in Solo and Concerto 477
  • The Violoncello and the Viola 490
  • Glossary and Index 501
  • A Short Glossary of Musical Terms 503
  • Index 517
  • A Note on the Type In Which This Book is Set 552
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