Philosophies of Music History

By Warren Dwight Allen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
MUSICAL RESEARCH IN THE BAROQUE ERA

UNTIL very recently the arts of the seventeenth century were dismissed with contempt. Today new methods of style-criticism are restoring the music and other arts of the Baroque era to their rightful place of honor in our cultural heritage.1 Gone are the days when the term Baroque meant meaningless ornament; it is no longer used as a synonym for that which is närrisch or lächmich2 and "in bad taste."3

The nineteenth century was greatly indebted to the seventeenth-- more so than Wagnerians and Victorians ever realized. Baroque ideals were revived in the arts under new names, and the speculations of Baroque scholars came to be basic assumptions in social science.

Modern research now shows that between the beginnings of modern chronology,4 around 1600, and the formulation of modern Ideas of Progress, around 1690,5 some very interesting work was done by pioneer musicologists. Studied for content alone, one can find much that shows their dependence upon the legendary, the miraculous, and the eccentric. Carl Engel in his Musical Myths and Facts [91] put them into his chapter on "Curiosities," and Matthew emphasized that phase of Baroque texts in his Literature of Music ( London, 1896). The general verdict seems to agree with the state-

____________________
1
For a further discussion of this subject see Allen, "Baroque Histories of Music," Musical Quarterly, April, 1939. Acknowledgment is made herewith of permission to use certain statements from that article in this chapter.
2
See Schilling, Encykl. der ges. mus. Wissenschaften, 1835, Vol. I, "Barock." For modern treatments, definitions, and criticisms see "Baroque Architecture," Encyc. Brit., 14th ed.; for evidence of this as a reversal of judgment, see "Baroque," in the 11th ed., as late as 1910.
3
According to J. W. Mollett, An Illus. Dictionary of Words used in Art and Archaeology, Boston, 1883.
4
Joseph Justus Scaliger De Emendatione Temporum appeared in 1583, 2nd ed. in 1594.
5
See pp. 245-247.

-3-

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