Philosophies of Music History

By Warren Dwight Allen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
HISTORIES OF MUSIC SINCE 1900

I. PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF LITERATURE IN CURRENT USE

THE FIRST pre-war decade and a half of this century might be called the Voluminous Period. Ten authors and editors began or completed works of more than two volumes each, which now total seventy-three volumes in all. Three of these were German, three were French, while England and America each produced two. First the Quellen-Lexicon of Eitner [145] began to appear, then the Oxford History of Music [146] and then Hugo Riemann Handbuch [171]. The last marked a new epoch in the literature. The author was one of the first theorists and practical musicians to take up music historiography since Calvisius and Praetorius. After years of lexicographic and other research,1 Riemann approached this task with a vast store of erudition and insatiable curiosity concerning the hitherto unknown. Erudition is attested not only by his Lexicon, but by his History of Music Theory ( 1898); and curiosity by his original research on the mid-eighteenth-century music of the Mannheim School, to name one item alone. But Riemann Handbuch is for these reasons a formidable work, for advanced students only, and his interests as a theorist dominate his whole concept of history. The seventeenth century, for example, now studied as the Baroque era, was styled by Riemann "the general-bass period," because of the technical use of the figured bass as the basis of ensemble music at that time.

The Oxford History of Music was initiated three years before Riemann's, consequently the first edition came too early for inclusion of modern data unearthed by continental research. It is hard to understand why the second edition was not brought up to date in this respect. However, in explaining the necessity for the Intro-

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1
See Moser Musiklexicon for a partial but staggering list of Riemann's works.

-128-

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