Friday, 28 January 2011

1610s Dance Music - Old Style

From the 1600s onwards music starts to find it's melody. In the centuries before the best music consists of voices merging together, evolving from the medieval fashion of open fourths and fifths to some nicer harmonies during the renaissance. Now, with opera, the completely different idea of a single vocal part singing over instrumental backing becomes more popular. 

Monteverdi is still top composer of the day but I don't think he does anything in this decade as  good as those selections I chose from L'Orfeo. Opera continues to gain popularity with Monteverdi but so does instrumental music and this is my preference. Instrumental music began to be played less by amateurs and gradually more by virtuoso musicians.

John Dowland continued to compose lute music and a really nice tune published by him in this decade is Sir John Smith's Almain.

Probably the best creatively and also successful commercially for the composer was some early 17th century dance music composed by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) in  a collection of 312 dances called Terpsichore published in 1612. I like all of the following Ballet Du Roy, Ballet, Bransle Double 3, Spagnoletta, La Canarie, Courante but my favorite is Volte.

We hear the beginnings of music for the violin which was a relatively new instrument at this time and thankfully would eventually come to take the place of the viol. This early composer of violin music was perhaps the leading violinist in Monteverdi's orchestra. His name was Biagio Marini (1587-1663) and his first collection was Affetti Musicali which came out in 1617 and from which I have chosen 'La Cornera'. Don't expect too much from the violin yet, but it's a start.

Also in 1617 a leading German composer called Johan Hermann Schein (1586-1630) published an instrumental collection called Il Banchetto Musicale (the Musical Banquet). It's not as good as Terpsichore from Praetorius but Suite 5 in D Allemande (attaca) -Tripla is probably worth a listen.

Solo keyboard music which first emerged towards the end of the last century becomes more and more popular too with composers like Girolamo Frescobaldi. A slightly older composer though is Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) and he is probably the first major keyboard composer in Europe. Solo church organ music is really not something that appeals to me at all but I skimmed through a bit of Sweelinck and came across quite  a nice organ piece by him called Ballo Del Granduca (it may have been from a previous decade but I am squeezing it in here) if you happen to be in the mood for it!! Maybe something to listen to more for interest than for pleasure.

Ok I am going to keep my posting short - so here are my selections:-

Dowland:  Lute Music of John  Dowland - Sir John Smith's Almain
Praetorius: - Dances from Terpsichore - Ballet Du Roy, Ballet, Bransle Double 3, Spagnoletta, La Canarie, CouranteVolte
Schein: - Il Banchetto Musicale - Suite 5 in D Allemande (attaca) -Tripla 
Marini: - Affetti Musicali -Marini Und Seine Zeitgenossen La Cornera

General history

The main thing that happens in Europe is that tea was introduced. Oh yea, and there was the outbreak of the thirty years war in 1618 which lasted until, let's 1648. This caused the population of Europe to decline from 21 million in 1618 to 13 million in 1648 - pretty devastating and it was fought mostly in Germany (then the part of the Holy Roman Empire). For this decade it was about religious unrest but it then evolved into a conflict and power struggle between France and the Habsburg family who ruled Spain, the Netherlands and Austria. France, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Spain would all participate. 


Galileo continued to be a superstar. Now he was focusing his attentions on the skys and more actively promoted the Copernican view of the universe (that's the earth not being the centre of the universe but instead orbiting the sun) that he had always held. He also wrote in 1615 'Concerning the Use of Biblical Quotations in Matters of Science' in which he said  that the bible should not be taken too literally where it is contradicted by science, but instead a different interpretation should be found.  This basically remains the position of the catholic church today though at the time it outraged some in the church and the Inquisition opened a file on him. Galileo's message to the church was that it should not interfere with science. His view was that just as a despot who was not a qualified would not personally attempt to perform the duties of a doctor, so the church should not say whether scientific reasoning was correct or not. 


Not a great deal to note here other than that Shakespeare completes his last play 'the Tempest' which is performed in 1611. He then died in 1616, as did Cervantes who had published the second part of Don Quixote in 1613.


Caravegio died in 1610 and Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1640 is now looked upon as the leading painter of the day. He had been in Italy studying the great Italian paintings but had returned to Antwerp in 1608. His paintings were often on a large scale and were full of colour and life.  The visual equivalent of opera maybe. The elevation of the cross above was an early one from 1610 that helped him create a name for himself.


Inigo Jones, Britains first modern architect of significance, having returned from Italy where he studied the buildings of Palladio, brings the classical forms  to England and designs the Queen's House in Greenwich (above) in 1616  and Banqueting Hall in Whitehall 1619-22 (below). Later, in 1635,  Rubens painted the ceiling.

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