Inside the Music | Writers | Classical Era | Classical

It was in the late eighteenth century, as Enlightenment thinking developed, that the business of writing about music for an informed public began to flourish. There were historians, such as Padre Martini in Italy, La Borde in France, Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg in Germany and Charles Burney in England; there were lexi­cographers; and there were theorists, eager to codify compositional practices.

There were also pedagogical writers, explaining performance techniques for the benefit of students and amateurs. This tradition goes back to the late Baroque, but there are three important mid-century writers who between them summarize many aspects of performance: C. P. E. Bach on the keyboard, Leopold Mozart on the violin and Johann Joachim Quantz on the flute. A little later comes D. G. Türk’s book on the keyboard. The growing world of amateur music-making was well served.

In France, musical lexicography flourished from the beginning of the century, and the rationalist spirit found its greatest outlet in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D’Alembert, which gave extensive coverage to music. Several French aestheticians wrote on music as an imitation of nature. Rameau’s writings take rationalist music theory to its ultimate. The polemical pamphlet also flourished, especially in the numerous operatic disputes.

Inside the Music | Sonata Form | Classical Era | Classical


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