The third section of the book considers the composition and performance of music in several European capitals during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. While the focus remains on context, this section of the book necessarily devotes more time to life and reputation of well-known composers, such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann, whose music is most readily associated with the term “baroque.” In this section, we look both at the ways in which eighteenth-century music was disseminated outside of Europe and the ways in which Europeans represented the rest of the world in their music.
This chapter considers music in Rome in the early eighteenth century, considering Handel’s tenure in Rome, the musicians he would have met, such as Arcangelo Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti, and the patrons that were active in Papal city. Corelli’s publications were to have an enormous impact all across Europe; as the articles listed below demonstrate, it would have an impact beyond Europe as well.
Head, Raymond. “Corelli in Calcutta: Colonial music-making in India during the 17th and 18th centuries.” Early Music 13 (1985), pp. 548-553.
Lindorff, Joyce. “Corelli’s Music in 18th-Century China: Currency for Cultural Exchange.” In Arcangelo Corelli fra mito e realtà storica. Edited by Gregory Barnett, Antonella d’Ovidio, and Stefano LaVia. Florence: Olschki, 2007, pp. , 639–647.
Waisman, Leonardo. “Arcadia Meets Utopia: Corelli in the South American Wilderness.” In Arcangelo Corelli fra mito e realtà storica. Edited by Gregory Barnett, Antonella d’Ovidio, and Stefano LaVia. Florence: Olschki, 2007, pp. 651–684.
This chapter focuses on music in eighteenth-century Paris, which provides an opportunity to consider how the French represented other peoples that they encountered through travel, exploration, and colonization, as well as the ways in which French music was disseminated, absorbed, and transformed outside of Europe. Olivia Bloechl’s work is particularly helpful for here. The various productions of Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes, such as the production by Andrei Șerban and William Christie available on DVD, is also a fascinating point of departure for discussion. Larry Wolff’s chapter considers both that and the ways in which French comedies (discussed briefly in this chapter) also explored exotic topics with an eye to humor.
Savage, Roger. “Rameau’s American Dancers.” Early Music 11.4 (October 1983): 441–452.
“Swinging Rameau – Les Indes Galantes.” , directed by Andrei Șerban. , produced by Hans Petri. , Opus Arte, 2005. Alexander Street.
Bloechl, Olivia A. Native American Song at the Frontiers of Early Modern Music. New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Chronicles the reception of Native American music in France, using travel narratives, visual sources, and contemporary transcriptions. Particular attention is given to the Les Sauvages entrée, but also to Campra and La Motte’s Europe galant and Rameau’s late work, Les Paladins.
Bloechl, Olivia. “Race, Empire, and Early Music.” In Rethinking Difference in Musical Scholarship, edited by Bloechl, Lowe, and Kalberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015: 77-107.
French baroque music in New Orleans: Spiritual Songs from the Ursuline Convent (1736), ed, by Jennifer Gipson, Andrew Justice, Alfred E. Lemmon, including essays.
Wolff, Larry. “The Generous Turk: Captive Christians and the Operatic Comedy in Paris.” In The Singing Turk: Ottoman Power and Operatic Emotions on the European Stage from the Siege of Vienna to the Age of Napoleon. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2016: 51-78.
This chapter covers a broad range of music across the Holy Roman Empire (Lübeck, Salzburg, Hamburg) concluding with a consideration of music in Vienna in the eighteenth century under the Habsburg. The global influences may not be so apparent since so much of the “exotic” in Northern Europe is filtered through the imported Italian and French styles (which were themselves shaped by global encounters). Moreover, the cities under consideration are themselves extraordinarily diverse in terms of religion, political systems, and their relationship to the colonial enterprises in which so much of Europe was involved. How does one compare the cosmopolitan nature of early modern Hamburg with the insularity of Salzburg? Arne Spohr’s article provides an excellent introduction to notions about race in early modern Germany that are relevant for any number of European courts during this period. The apparent insularity and homogeneity of Viennese musical culture in the eighteenth century also provides a fascinating point of departure, particularly in the realm of opera. In the aftermath of Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683, the Viennese were well aware of the pressures of the Ottoman Empire, and while scholars have been more attentive to the Turkish elements in later eighteenth century music, there is more to be said about the impact of that siege on musical culture. The work of the Ensemble Saraband inspired by the soundscape of the siege might also be of interest to students. Wolff’s chapter on the Bajazet operas (including Handel’s Tamerlano) could be considered her or in the next chapter. Although this chapter only touches very lightly on Spanish music in this period in the context of the Habsburg empire, I’ve included Stein and Leza’s important work on opera in the American colonies.
Spohr, Arne “‘Mohr und Trompeter’: Blackness and Social Status in Early Modern Germany.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 72.3 (2019): 614-663.
Lale Babaoǧlu Balkiş, “Defining the Turk: Construction of Meaning in Operatic Orientalism.” International Review of Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 41.2 (2010): 185-193.
Locke, Ralph. “Alien Adventures: Exoticism in Italian-Language Baroque Opera. ” The Musical Times 150 (2009): 53-69.
Chen, Jen-Yen, “Maria Theresia and the ‘Chinese” Voicing of Imperial Self: The Austrian Contexts for Metastasio’s China Operas.” Eighteenth-Century Music 13 (2016): 11-34.
Stein, Louise K. and José Máximo Leza, “Opera, genre, and context in Spain and its American Colonies.” In A. DelDonna & P. Polzonetti (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 244-269.
Wolff, Larry. “The Captive Sultan: Operatic Transfigurations of the Ottoman Menace after the Siege of Vienna.” In: The Singing Turk: Ottoman Power and Operatic Emotions on the European Stage from the Siege of Vienna to the Age of Napoleon. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2016: 13-50.
Vienna 1683: A Musical Siege: Ensemble Sarband & Armonico Tributo Austria.
The final two chapters in the book on the only ones that are focused entirely around individual composers—Bach and Handel respectively, who in the traditional historiography of baroque music cast rather large shadows on the rest of the period. This presents special challenges. Here, the desire to push beyond the canon and move away from the “composer as genius” model comes into conflict with the simple fact that it is (typically) this music with which the students often have the most familiarity and—in my experience—regardless of how eager they are to move beyond the canon, they are also eager to delve into the music of Bach and Handel. How do we achieve a balance—helping students engage with this wonderful repertory, while at the same time rethinking their lives and works, taking into account race, gender, class, the music’s social function globally and its reception today? One important step in this process is to contextualize as much as possible the composer’s biographies, to show some of the assumptions in the heroic narratives and legends that have so long been associated with these composers. Another is to consider the consider more broadly the ways in which their music has been disseminated, the meanings it has acquired in different contexts, and the kind of values that different performance practices and marketing strategies might convey.
Chapter fourteen: The London of Handel and Hogarth
While this chapter calls attention to the ways in which Handel was immortalized and even deified in eighteenth-century London, other approaches to his biography might prove useful. I recommend below two chapters from David Hunter’s The Lives of George Frideric Handel. “Nation and Stories” provides broad context for Handel’s political and social views, which help us better understand how he and his colleagues saw themselves in relation to the rest of the world, while “Biographers Stories” reveals many of the prejudices and predispositions that shaped the narratives written by Handel’s biographers, and will help students learn how to read all such biographies more critically. Hunter’s study of Handel’s profiting through the slave trade should also be considered in this context, helping students understand the ways in which music manuscripts were financed through slavery.
Hunter, David. “Handel Manuscripts and the Profits of Slavery: The “Granville” Collection at the British Library and the First Performing Score of Messiah Reconsidered.” Notes 76 (2019), 27-37.
Handel’s operas also provide opportunities for considering questions of race, religion, and gender. Wolff’s chapter (cited above) would work well with a study of Handel’s Tamerlano. Handel’s Rinaldo—and the other works inspired by Tasso considered in this book (such as Lully’s Armide or Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi and Clorinda—open up questions concerning the staging of the crusades. Students may also want to think critically about stagings of Handel’s opera that either favor or suppress exotic elements, such as this performance by Handel’s Rinaldo by the Collegium 1704, which could profitably compared with Robert Carsen’s production from Glyndebourne, readily available on video (see excerpts below).
Perhaps more than any other composer of this period, Handel’s music—particularly Messiah—has been widely disseminated throughout the globe, both now and in colonial times. What is about this particular work that has so captured the imagination? Why is it so recognizable and adaptable? A few examples are included below, but there are many others.
This article from the Choir of Trinity Wall Street describes the first performance of Messiah on the American continent.
Chapter fifteen: Postlude and Prelude – Bach and the Baroque
Bach is perhaps the most challenging composer to consider in a global context as he is own life was so circumscribed geographically. Unlike Handel, whose fame was not diminished after his death, a substantial number of his compositions (particularly vocal music) did not remain in the repertory after his death. Nonetheless, his music seems to have had a profound impact globally; there is much to be learned about the reception of Bach globally, the development of early music ensembles throughout the world, and the very special role that Bach seems to have played for musicians either because of or (in spite of) his status within the Western European canon.
Zhu-Xiao-Mei, How Bach Defeated Mao: A documentary on the pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei. Available on medici.tv, this documentary provides a fascinating discussion of the role of Bach in this pianist’s life and her return to China as a concert pianist 50 years after the Cultural Revolution.
The last thirty years, for instance, has seen the growth of early music ensembles throughout Asia. Students might want to explore the history of the Bach Collegium Japan (see this article from Iowa Public Radio about Bach’s popularity in Japan).
Browner, Tara. “An Indigenous American Perspective on Bach Culture.” Ethnomusicology Review 17 (2021)
Lee, Kayoung. “The Reception of Bach’s Music in Korea from 1900-1945.” Bach 44 (2013)” 25-51
A fascinating (and controversial) perspective on Bach in the global context can be found in the various commentaries on Albert Schweitzer’s missionary work in Africa. One meditation on this can be found Lambarena, a CD released in 1995 by the French composer Hughes de Courson in collaboration with the Gabonese singer-composer Pierre Akendungué. In this work we hear the juxtaposition of Bach’s music with African music—see the highlights also in this review. The album was the inspiration for several choreographies, including this one by Christine Coudon.