Arts & Culture | Musical Theory | Late Baroque | Classical
From the earliest years of the Baroque era musicians, scientists and assorted intellectuals, mainly from Italy, wrote treatises and manifestos discussing the theories, aesthetics and musical practice of a new style of music. By the early eighteenth century almost every country in Europe was producing writers who aimed to define musical styles and concepts. They attempted to rationalize and, to an extent, codify emotional responses to music. Although the results were often imprecise and inconsistent, the declared aim of music to move the passions was universally accepted.
The most profound and influential writer on musical science was Rameau, whose theories form the basis of modern tonal harmony. Among the early eighteenth-century theorists who attempted a definition and categorization of musical style were the composers Sébastien de Brossard (1655–1730; Dictionnaire de musique, 1703) and Johann Walter (Musicalisches Lexicon, 1732). Their ideas and others were later discussed and developed by a profusion of composers, theorists and lexicographers among whom Mattheson, Quantz and Avison made important contributions to the debate. Mattheson, in addition to his many theoretical writings, produced the first lexicon to include biographical information on German musicians (Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte, 1740), while Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel (1760) by John Mainwaring (c. 1724–1807) was the first monograph.
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