Among the manifold forms the written image of music has taken are letters or syllables, to represent individual tones, and symbols to represent groups of them. But a more advanced approach is expressed in notation guided not only by the wish to fix the immediate impression of a given musical sound but by the attempt to render the act of musical performance in its continuity.
The notational signs which were to prove of the most lasting influence were the highly expressive neumes; it was from them that the generally surviving style of musical script arose. The term was derived from the Greek word neuma –a nod or motion, and in this particular context the manual gesture or gestures to establish different pitch levels–and it suggests the melodic flow as indicated by the leader of an ensemble.
Widely used in Eastern and Western music practice, the neumes were invariably connected with vocal performance whose notation was also greatly aided by the joining of musical symbols with verbal text.
The decisive step in the evolution of a readily perceptible image for the musical sound was taken by the Benedictine monk Guido of Arezzo (circa 1000), the preceptor of the cathedral choir school at that northern Italian city and a theorist of unusual pedagogical gift.
Guido’s achievement was in placing the neumes on lines, for clearer orientation drawn in different colors and representing the interval of a third. With this invention he created the basis of a system that has remained alive in modern practice.
So immediately successful was his method that Pope John XIX, “after brief instruction, and to his own surprise, was able to sight-read a melody not previously known to him, without any error,” and in justified pride, Guido added “musica sine linea est sicut puteus sine fune” (“music without lines is like a well without a rope”)
Guido’s refinements in the definition of pitch were followed by corresponding advances in graphically defining the musical sound’s duration. The use of neumes gradually gave way to that of square-shaped notes and combinations of notes in so-called ligatures. While obviously emanating from the forms of neumes, these new symbols served their purpose with greater exactness of detail.
contribution to the history of music. Influences from the south and east met with those from the north and west by which traditions of monophonic music–unaccompanied melody–merged with developments in probing the harmony of simultaneously sounding voices.
They led to the work of the masters at Notre Dame in Paris and various other regions of northern France, the first figures in music history who stand out as individual composers of indigenous styles. In the early polyphonic settings of chant, long and short note values were distinguished by applying the rhythmic modes, inferred from the verse meters of antiquity, to groups of notes.
But fourteenth-century theorists declared a categoric difference between old and new styles (ars antiqua and ars nova), the latter reflected by means of notation that departed from the modal system and adopted a system of strict measuring, the so-called mensural notation.
The differentiation of note values grew, adding to the horizontally placed square shapes more precisely placed diamond shapes; and the color of notes changed from black to white (i.e., a mere black outline of the note shape which, once again, ensured greater precision of notation).
The magnificent appearance of missals from the waning Middle Ages and early Renaissance, with their lavish illuminations, may make it at times difficult to decide which is the greater artistic achievement: the manuscript itself, or the art it represents. We are dealing with a period that was not yet fully conscious of the distinction between artist and artisan known in later ages.
But the time was approaching when the work of the scribe was supplanted by that originating in centers of printing whose interest and influence reached beyond the sphere of the individual artifact. The process of music printing obviously grew in stages.
In early phases, merely the lines were given in print, the neumes being entered by hand, or folios were produced by “double printing”–the lines in red and, in a second imprint, the notes in black. The first printer of mensural music, the Venetian Ottaviano Petrucci, was for a long time considered the inventor of the art of printing music with movable type, yet his excellent work (begun about 1500) was preceded by that of various print shops in the north.
The sixteenth century became a “golden age” that produced the classical summaries of the art of vocal polyphony in sacred and secular music as well as in treatises on music theory. Among the latter, L’Istitutioni Harmoniche (1555, reprinted 1562 and 1573) by Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590),
Master of the Chapel at St. Mark’s in Venice, assumed a preeminent place. As the title suggests, the work was dedicated to the age-old ideals of symmetry and proportion, the “harmony of all parts in relation to the whole,” as described by the writers of antiquity. In his thorough discussion of the correlation of tones and melodies,
Zarlino–like the early authors on perspective–saw himself obliged to create a completely new terminology. His concern with measurement and the concepts of division and inversion lends his work an authority extending to the fine arts as much as to music,
and the numerous ornamental illustrations accompanying his text go far beyond the traditional embellishment of enhanced initial letters. They render scientific design that represents a true counterpart to the decorative music printing of the era.
The work is divided into four parts which the author joins in two larger sections. The first pair deals with the conceptual and physical properties of the musical sound, and the second with the technique of composition. What Zarlino recognizes and, in fact, reconciles, is the time-honored distinction between musica speculativa and musica activa –theory and practice. In a rather robust way, Guido had referred to the two domains with the well-known verse:
Between musicians and singers exists a wide gulf
The latter perform, the former know, the substance of music
His dichotomy led Guido into a bit of polemic comment on “those who do what they not know” which has remained alive through the centuries, though amply misconstrued. While Zarlino links an introductory chapter on the division of music into speculative and practical branches to “the difference between musician and singer,”
He significantly redefines the ideas and terms involved, because he speaks of the musico as the artist able to judge not only the sound but also the “reason contained in this science,” whereas the prattico is considered, in his text, on equal terms with a “composer, singer, or player.” He states categorically that “practical music is the art of counterpoint,” and that the domains of theory and practice are, as in other arts, complementary rather than opposed.
What is of special interest is that he refers to the practice of playing as well as singing, for the rise of instrumental music had posed a fresh challenge to polyphony and to its notation.
Zarlino’s music examples are still arranged according to the old choir book notation in which the separate voices appear side by side; and the audition requirements for early sixteenth-century organists, which have been preserved, call for the ability to play a motet from the given number of individual part books. Such an astounding grasp of polyphonic texture, however, gradually became a rare achievement.
A historic exception was Mozart’s encounter with the choral music of Bach, kept in the library of St. Thomas’s church in Leipzig only in separate parts. The account of an eyewitness reads: “and then it was for the silent observer a joy to see how eagerly Mozart sat himself down, with the parts all around him–in both hands, on his knees, and on the chairs next to him–and, forgetting everything else, did not get up again until he had looked through everything.”
The sixteenth-century organist, faced with the task of rendering all parts of a polyphonic composition on a single instrument, soon felt the need to tabulate them in a form in which their simultaneous sound could be readily recognized. The “tabulations” that resulted characterize the appearance of the early keyboard literature and herald the notation of the modern keyboard score.
Score arrangements were actually known as early as the ars antiqua, for the works of the Notre Dame school appear in parts written one under the other, though not necessarily in careful alignment. Older, too, was the device of intabulation itself, but it covered a wide range of notation applied to instrumental music of various kinds.
In fact, the device of tablature goes back to the ancient world in the notation of music for instruments such as the flute or zither in systems that lived on in the lute tablatures of the Renaissance.
Here, however, it was not a series of pitches that was tabulated, but rather the relative position of fingers or strings to be used in order to produce them, and the tradition has survived in examples of modern notation.
Conversely, the tablatures of polyphonic keyboard music retained a direct connection with the early scores rendering vocal music, and they appeared on a number of staves representing the different voices of the composition, or merely on two staves, showing how these voices were to be combined in the right and left hands of the player.
A certain exception was the tablature notation used by German organists, in which the tones were not identified by notes but by the letters designating them. Since this was done in Gothic script, German organ tablature presents a particularly difficult picture, and this picture becomes doubly bewildering through the use of a number of special symbols.
Nevertheless, the notation is precise. Measures and individual parts are neatly grouped; the rhythm is marked by strokes, dots, and flags; and the register is indicated by horizontal lines as well as by a distinction between the use of capital and small letters (among which, according to German custom, b stands for b-flat and h for b-natural).
Above all, the manuscripts in German organ tablature impress again upon the modern reader the fact that the scribe approached his task as an art. Perhaps the most conspicuous feature on a page of German organ tablature is the occasional elongation of a letter by which, for instance,
“f” is changed to “fis” (the German note name for f-sharp). What was an abbreviation of the suffix “is” became a flourish, a very characteristic expression of the art of musical notation. In its particular form of German organ tablature this art was ultimately glorified in isolated cases appearing in the autographs of Handel and Bach.
The Rise of Music Drama
We speak of the intellectual life of the Renaissance as Humanism–the study of man–and the first writer to use the term Renaissance, the French historian Jules Michelet, referred to the reawakening or “rebirth” of ancient culture as both la découverte du monde and la découverte de l’homme –the discovery of the world and the discovery of man.
It is indicative of the era that several documents in this collection, preserved from the waning sixteenth century, bear personal signatures. In documentary history the signature moves into focus, as the portrait moves into the focus of pictorial history.
Western music had for centuries evolved primarily in the sacred service, but a new age of the art began to be oriented not by the relation of man to God so much as by his relation to man. Its prime expression was no longer the liturgy but human drama.
It is well known that a learned academy met in one of the Florentine palaces for discussions devoted to a revival of the dramatic art of antiquity and that these discussions led to the inception of music drama. The name Camerata, by which the group is remembered, signaled the fact that decisive developments in music had passed from the church to the camera, the princely chamber.
Yet the scholars and artists of the Camerata were by no means the originators of dramatic music, nor did the influence of sacred music practice decline due to the evolution of dramatic music. The two great Venetians of the period, Gioseffo Zarlino and Giovanni Gabrieli, who in this collection are represented by autograph signatures, were church musicians; they both served at St. Mark’s.
But the work of Gabrieli, whose fame outshone that of all other musicians of his era, announces a new age, a new style of music that is totally dramatic.
Unlike Palestrina’s music, written for the Papal Chapel and borne by ideas of retrospection, the music of Gabrieli was of a progressive, in fact, revolutionary nature. It favored the dramatic contrasts of the “concerted” style, in which several choirs vied with one another in the unfolding of resonant splendor, and in which a “choir” of instruments began to assume an independent role.
It is especially interesting that we find Gabrieli’s signature paired with that of Heinrich Julius, Duke of Brunswick, one of the most eminent musical patrons of the new era and himself well trained as a musician.
The names of Antonio Goretti, Giovanni Battista Buonamente, and Luigi Battiferri, however, lead us to a generation of church musicians already fully versed in the secular dramatic style, the greatest of whom was Claudio Monteverdi.
Here we encounter one of those towering figures whose work shaped an epoch in music history. Born in 1567 at Cremona, the city of the famed violin makers, Monteverdi was trained in the old contrapuntal art by Marco Antonio Ingegneri, the eminent master of the Cathedral Chapel,
but it was as a violinist that in young years he was appointed to the ducal court of Mantua. Soon he was also to earn the more highly regarded title of cantore, and in time he took over the direction of all instrumental and vocal music at the court. By the turn of the century he had become the leading exponent of what in the works of one of his contemporaries,
the Florentine lutenist and singer Giulio Caccini, was designated as “nuove musiche” and “nuova maniera di scriverla” (“new music” and “the new manner of writing it”), but what was attacked by another contemporary, the Bolognese theorist Giovanni Maria Artusi, as “imperfettioni della moderna musica” (“imperfections of modern music”).
Monteverdi answered the latter charge with a famous statement in which he boldly asserted that the alleged imperfections were in reality perfections; that what was involved was a novel style with its own legitimacy; and that it represented a “Second Practice,” postulated by the requirements of dramatic music,
to which the principles of the “First Practice”–those codified by Zarlino–no longer applied. Just as the fourteenth century had declared an ars nova in music, the rising eventeenth century thus established a new style period that, in fact, figures as the beginning of many to follow.
In 1607 Monteverdi received a court commission to write a “musical fable,” characteristically based on the legend of Orpheus, the mythical singer whose art moved the forces of nature and conquered the supernatural spirits. Orfeo became Monteverdi’s most celebrated work. In it he drew on the wealth of musical expression the Renaissance had produced, placing it in the service of drama.
It is indicative of a new age that in Orfeo it is no longer the voice alone that serves dramatic means but the instrument as well–an example is the expressive use of the violin, Monteverdi’s own instrument, in introducing the climactic song of Orpheus.
Monteverdi’s achievement went beyond a fulfillment of the aims of the Camerata. It was music itself that triumphed through his work in the rebirth of ancient drama.
Yet the “new music” of the theater was immediately blended with the music of the church. In 1613, a year after Gabrieli had died, Monteverdi was appointed Master of the Chapel at St. Mark’s Cathedral. The “sacred concerto” now took its place next to mass and motet; and from it was to arise theProtestant church cantata, for the greatest of the German church composers of the time, Heinrich Schütz, who had studied with both Gabrieli and Monteverdi, brought the new forms to the north.
Giovanni Battista Buonamente, less well known as one of the Monteverdi followers, may have shared with Schütz the latter’s role as initiator of dramatic music beyond the Alps. Like Monteverdi, active at the court of the Gonzagas in Mantua as a violinist, he wrote works in which the element of instrumental virtuosity begins to come to the fore.
They are characteristic of the rapidity with which the dramatic style had entered all aspects of musical practice. It found expression in the sonata which now arose in distinction to the cantata as the piece that was “sounded” rather than sung, and it led eventually to the instrumental concerto in which one or several soloists are singled out from the orchestra. But on a broader scale it continued to serve the music for the stage.
At the occasion of the wedding of Princess Eleanora Gonzaga to the Emperor Ferdinand II, Buonamente took up service at the Viennese court. His preserved letters to Prince Cesare Gonzaga give a vivid account of the Imperial court music, and his description of a Pastoral Comedia suggests that it was he who composed the instrumental music for the dances in the work.
The term Comedia did not carry the connotation of the later “comic” play–rather, in accordance with the Greek origin of the word, it designated a festive entertainment that was presented through song. In his letter written in Parma on February 28, 1628, Antonio Goretti, a distinguished patron of music and friend of Monteverdi’s, mentions his ardent wish (“mi moro di voglia”–“
I die with desire”) to return from Parma to Ferrara in order to attend the forthcoming Comedia there. The letter was apparently addressed to the Marchesa Bentivoglio who represented one of the aristocratic families of Ferrara and with whom Monteverdi and Goretti were visiting at the time.
Ever since his early years in the employ at the court of Mantua, Monteverdi had been connected in various ways with the neighboring court of Ferrara. Musical life in Ferrara, which flourished at the court, in churches, and in theaters, had received a particular impetus from various academies,
learned and philanthropic societies which often maintained their own musical establishments. To one of them, the Accademia degli Intrepidi, Monteverdi had dedicated his Fourth Book of Madrigals, the earliest of the works that had touched off the controversy with Artusi.
The most famous of the academies was the Accademia della Morte (originally a monastic order to aid those condemned to death), and among its eminent music directors was Luigi Battiferri, who, as late as the time of Bach, was praised as a master of the contrapuntal art
The Renaissance was an essentially Italian movement, though its roots stretched throughout Europe. In the north it was paralleled by the Reformation which was to lead the northern world into a war that lasted for an entire generation–the Thirty Years War.
It profoundly affected all cultural life, and the work of such a composer as Schütz gives eloquent witness to the adversity of the age. In the highly interesting statements with which he prefaced the prints of his works, he referred to “the wretched times our dear homeland is still undergoing” and he gave suggestions to the performer as to how his compositions might be executed with more modest means than called for in the printed form.
Nevertheless, the early seventeenth century saw a significant turn to German texts in manuscripts and published editions of music. German had become an established literary language with Luther’s Bible translation, and whereas in the documents of this collection we have dealt so far only with Latin and Italian,
we now have before us an immense body of works in which texts in the northern languages predominate. The rise of music drama spread beyond the Alps, and it found its strongest expression in the Protestant liturgy.
The oldest piece of Protestant church music represented here introduces a little-known name, Johannes Wanning. One of the numerous musicians who had migrated from the Netherlands to Germany, this fertile and imaginative composer is a true representative of a well-developed art with which the new church had begun to assimilate the influences of music drama.
Though Latin texts still prevail in his music, it suggests a genuinely northern style. He spent the major part of his life in Danzig, one of the Hanseatic seaports, whose new organ at St. Mary’s Church had “caused a sensation in all of Europe.
The Reformation had divided the continent into a Catholic south and a Protestant north. A dividing line was never sharply drawn, nor did it remain without various enclaves north and south. But there is no question that this division initiated a certain shift of weight.
Padre Giambattista Martini, teacher of the young Mozart, was to open his famous treatise on counterpoint with the statement that in the art of music, the sixteenth century had made Italy “the mistress of the other nations.”
This hegemony gradually declined in subsequent centuries, though not without leaving an Italian legacy to the world. The Italian language became international in musical terminology. It was within the lands where the German language was spoken, however, that a certain dividing line between Catholic and Protestant music became recognizable.
The works of Christoph Demantius and Christoph Bernhard mark the generations of German Protestantism before and after Schütz, whereas the name of Wolfgang Ebner reminds us of a different school of composers whose works initiated the style that was to become of enduring influence at the Catholic imperial court of Vienna.
The style element that characterized the rise of dramatic music everywhere was the bassus generalis or basso continuo, the thoroughbass that accompanied the vocal melody with harmonic support of keyboard or other chordal instruments as well as various bass instruments.
As its designation implies, it ran through the entire composition; being executed by the conductor himself at the keyboard, with the support of bass instruments, it provided a sure foundation for a musical fabric largely dominated by the dramatic expression of the vocal or instrumental solo.
Its rule arose in phases, and it is typical of the church music of Demantius that its polyphonic texture, though tending toward a polarity of the outer voices, is maintained without continuo accompaniment. His orientation was conservative, though in his most significant work, a St. John Passion for six-part choir, he heralded the form in which Protestant church music was to culminate.
Christoph Bernhard, foremost student of Schütz, was born in Danzig, the city where Wanning had been active, but he was trained in Italy as well as in Germany. In his important theoretical writings he acted as the catalyst who interpreted the old art of polyphony to a new generation.
Through Schütz’s tutelage he was thoroughly schooled in the a cappella style, the “Palestrinian manner,” but in his sacred concertos, which again adopted the model of Schütz, the modern continuo style was firmly established. His works were of direct influence upon Dietrich Buxtehude, the mentor of the young Bach, into whose era the life of Bernhard was to extend.
The work of Ebner, while itself overshadowed by that of his greater contemporary Johann Jakob Froberger, guides us to the Viennese keyboard art of the seventeenth century. The dance suite, one of the oldest forms of instrumental ensemble music, now appears as a form of courtly keyboard music, merging French, German, and English style elements with genuine Viennese influences.
Ebner’s keyboard music remained in high esteem, as is shown by the fact that his own name is joined in the copy of the composition here preserved to those of Alessandro Poglietti and Giuseppe Antonio Paganelli, noted Italian keyboard composers, both of whose careers developed on German soil.
Ebner served, together with Froberger, as imperial court organist, though during the latter’s extensive travels, he often carried out the duties of this assignment alone. Eventually he combined his court position with that of Master of the Chapel at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where in later years Johann Pachelbel served for some time as organist.
It was Pachelbel who carried the South German keyboard style into the Protestant orbit, and it is indicative of his influence that the sample of his work contained in this collection, and as yet unpublished, has come down to us in a copy by Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber, one of Bach’s pupils.
The generations overlap. Pachelbel had moved to Eisenach, Bach’s birthplace, where for a brief period he held the position of court organist, and he became a friend of Bach’s father who was in charge of the town music. Bach’s eldest brother, Johann Christoph, to whose household Bach moved when he lost his parents at an early age, was Pachelbel’s student, and it was through him that the young Bach was introduced to the organist’s profession.
As we approach the era of Bach and Handel, we enter into two realms of music that during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries may seem to have grown far apart in purpose and style, though in reality they remained innately related to one another. It is more difficult to honor the height of an era than to trace its beginnings.
Music history has borrowed the term Baroque, now commonly accepted, from the history of art, in order to describe characteristics that works of music from the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century have in common. Such epoch designations are always problematic because an afterglow of the past invariably merges with developments that foreshadow the future.
As an alternate, more precise designation of what has come to be recognized as a particular era of music, historians formed the term basso continuo age.
Though more cumbersome, it represents a more direct understanding of the style involved, for the technical criterion of thoroughbass accompaniment is by its very function inseparably connected with the emergence of the dramatic art forms that dominated the music of this era and that found their fulfillment in the works of Bach and Handel.
The names of the two great composers, both of whom were born in 1685, have been linked customarily, as have been those of Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso, who both died in 1594. But the attempt to derive a certain periodization from these dates remains in its ramifications inaccurate, as does the attempt to see any obvious parallel in the composers’ artistic bequest and mission.
Bach and Handel were born in Saxon towns less than a hundred miles apart, and they entered their profession in the environment of the Protestant church. The legacy of Protestant church music, however, was imparted in diverse ways to the lives of the two masters.
Bach, born into a family of town and church musicians, was heir to a tradition which, ranging over more than a century before his time and extending for generations after his own, stands for a unique hereditary history. Handel appears in a genealogy of more than two centuries as the only musician.
His was a well-to-do bourgeois family in which artistic and intellectual tendencies were represented rather through the goldsmith’s trade and the ministry. His father, a court physician, had not looked with favor upon the son’s studies for the musical profession.
This may help to explain the divergent course of the two careers. Bach was committed to an overwhelming artistic inheritance; Handel, throughout his life, was an artist of absolute independence.
Bach’s work unfolded entirely on German soil, whereas Handel’s extended through Europe, became Italianized and eventually Anglicized to the astounding degree that English music became thoroughly shaped by the Handelian style.
But in Bach’s German church cantatas and Passion settings, and in Handel’s English oratorios, the music drama of what we have come to call the age of the Baroque reached its final form.
It is also a final phase of the composers’ lives with which the documents before us are concerned. Though merely provided as a formality, Bach’s signatures are of particular historical significance because they are the last we have from his hand–the signature bearing the latest date had, in fact, to be supplied by his son Johann Christian because of the master’s increasing blindness.
And they verify the fact that Bach’s duties had remained those of a church musician and official. Handel’s autograph happens to be likewise written within a short period before the onset of blindness. But he was to resist the decline of his powers for yet another decade, in which his work remained devoted to English oratorio, the form which was his most original creation.
Opera, which all but absorbed musical life in Italy, had experienced a different fate in the countries north of the Alps. In France, it had risen to prime importance at the court through the work of an Italian, Giovanni Battista Lulli, who, as Jean Baptiste Lully, gave opera its French guise and strengthened its nature by imparting to it a salient feature,
the overture, which in turn came to be combined with operatic ballets to form the orchestral suite. In Germany, devastated by the war that raged in the first half of the seventeenth century, opera gained its place in society with much delay, and for a long time it survived essentially as an Italian import.
In England, removed from the source of opera by a continent and the sea, it was considered totally alien–in the words of the satirist Samuel Johnson, “an exotic and irrational entertainment.” Whereas in Germany music drama had found its way into the Protestant cantata and dramatic setting of the Gospel story, England had essentially resisted these developments.
The very term opera appeared in English music first in the The Beggar’s Opera (1728), written in open defiance of Handel’s introduction of Italian opera to London audiences.
Handel’s opera enterprise, desired and supported by the English aristocracy and a primary challenge of absorbing fascination to the composer, eventually failed. Relying on Italian singers whose fame and virtuosity was its principal attraction, opera was undeniably foreign to the wider English audience. Its Italian texts, dealing with intrigues from unfamiliar history, had no meaning for its listeners.
And from a protracted struggle between the composer and his public emerged, as a solution, English oratorio, a new form in which English texts, chosen predominantly (though by no means exclusively) from the Old Testament, were presented by English singers (or foreign artists who had adapted their performance to the English language). It was the form that eventually raised the composer to the level of a national hero.
The Reformation had created a Church of the State in England; yet the Anglican rite, despite all violent reactions to “popish” tendencies, stayed closer to the Roman rite than German Protestantism. Henry Purcell, “true genius of the Restoration,” was one of the first openly to embrace the new dramatic forms in England, and in his sacred and secular works English seventeenth-century music found its finest expression.
It was through the tragically early death of Purcell that John Blow, an able composer, though of minor stature, emerged as the leading English musician of the waning seventeenth century. He was a teacher and predecessor of Purcell as court composer and Master of the Chapel Royal, but in the end also his successor.
In his anthems and odes we encounter what had become the predominant forms of English music, forms that were to contribute decisively to the genesis of English oratorio.
Unlike Bach, Handel was surrounded by musicians who, like himself, were immigrants and had sought their fortune in a country representing “a parliamentary state with free institutions alongside a Europe ruled by absolutism.” German musicians took a significant part in the Royal Band that, after 1714, served a German prince as ruler, and to German musicians was entrusted the musical instruction of the nobility.
Handel’s official court appointment was that of Royal Music Master, and his course of instruction for Anne, the eldest of the daughters of George I, is preserved. A counterpart to this extraordinary didactic document is a theoretical discourse by John Christopher (Johann Christoph) Pepusch.
Apparently written for the daughter of a prominent English official, and still unpublished, it reflects the authority this German musician enjoyed as a theorist and teacher. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Ancient Music, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a widely respected composer.
Handel had entrusted his own student John Christopher Smith (later his assistant and successor as Royal Music Master) to the tutelage of Pepusch, and he was at times closely associated with Pepusch in his work, though the fact that Pepusch had composed music for The Beggar’s Opera finally led to an estrangement.
As if to summarize the large chapter of music history we have considered in this section, the sequence of the collection’s documents leads finally to the title most universally applied in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries to dramatic works of secular as well as sacred nature–dramma per musica.
It appears in a work by Georg Philipp Telemann (who rearranged the letters of his name in his often preferred pseudonym Melante), Bach’s and Handel’s most celebrated and prolific contemporary.
Telemann was originally given preference to Bach as a candidate for the office of Cantor at St. Thomas’s in Leipzig, but he declined the position in favor of the musical directorship at the churches of the North German metropolis of Hamburg, a position in which he was to be succeeded by his godson, C.P. E. Bach.
In fact, a lifelong friendship connected him with Bach and Handel, both of whom he outlived, though his name was ultimately overshadowed by theirs.
The composer’s signature in the upper right-hand corner shows his pseudonym “Melante.” Though crossed out, the customary pattern of a French overture, with its dotted rhythm of an opening section and a subsequent fugue in livelier rhythmic motion, can be recognized clearly.
The theme for the latter, revised at the end of the last four staves, appears there in a more marked melodic contour than in the earlier version above. History is the most partial of the sciences. When it becomes enamored of a man, it loves him jealously; it will not even hear of others.
Since the day when the greatness of Johann Sebastian Bach was admitted, all that was great in his lifetime has become less than nothing. The world has hardly been able to forgive Handel for the impertinence of having had as great a genius as Bach’s and a much greater success.
The rest have fallen into dust; and there is no dust so dry as that of Telemann, whom posterity has forced to pay for the insolent victory which he won over Bach in his lifetime.
These words by Romain Rolland, the French writer and music historian, were somewhat superseded in years closer to our time, and they characterize the varying approach posterity has taken to the climax of an epoch Telemann’s greatest dramatic works were written at the time Mozart composed his first sonatas and symphonies, and whatever judgment is accorded his stature, he was the last illustrious master of the musical Baroque.