Music 2115

Study Guide for Chapter 17

"Preeminent Composers of the Early Eighteenth Century"

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741; Italian)

Born in Venice, received musical training, ordained as a priest

His entire career was spent at the Pio Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, an orphanage for girls and young women, from 1703-1741

Was violin teacher, later Maestro of all music

Virtually all his instrumental and choral works were written for performances at the Ospedale

Also wrote for the opera houses; but fewer than half his operas survive

Wrote over 500 concertos, 350 for one solo instrument with string orchestra

Most famous areThe Seasons (Op. 8, Nos. 1-4)

Most are in 3 movements & show their concerto grosso origin

1st movement fast, with ritornelli alternating with solo episodes

2nd movement slow, lyrical, expressive, with a reduced ripieno

3rd movement similar to the 1st, but faster and shorter

His vocal & choral music remains mostly unpublished--could equal instrumental in numbers

Best-known piece is his Gloria

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)

Considered the leading German composer in his own time; then forgotten; only recently revived

Wrote in every style and form of his time--over 4,000 compositions known!

Throughout his life, wherever he went he became involved with sacred, concert, chamber, and opera music

Note that jobs as Kapelmeister (Chapel Master) in German towns was a civic position, since there was a state religion and appointments were made by the town council

Life & Works

1701 entered Leipzig University--was a friend of Handel there
Founded a collegium musicum in 1702--public concerts, both sacred & secular

Music director of Leipzig Opera, 1702

Music director of the University Church 1704

1705 appointed Kapellmeister at Sorau where he met the poet & librettist Neumeister

1708 appointed Kapellmeister at Eisenach--was a friend of J.S. Bach there

1712 appointed City Music Director & Kapellmeister in Frankfurt

Wrote 5 cycles of cantatas for the church year, and music for civic events

Directed collegium musicum, organized weekly public concerts

1721 appointed Kantor & music director for 5 churches in Hamburg

Wrote 2 new cantatas for each Sunday & a new Passion annually

Music for special events

Director of Hamburg Opera, collegium musicum, founded public concerts

Wrote both music for virtuosos and Hausmusik for amateurs

Broke down the stereotypes between sacred & secular, employment & activities

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)

Most important and influential 18th-century French musician

Held a number of positions as organist

Became a protegé of La Pouplinière (Alexandre-Jean-Joseph Le Riche del la Pouplinière), a wealthy patron of the arts, who employed Rameau as a player, composer, and teacher for 22 years

Organist & Harpsichordist

Premier livre de pièces de clavecin ("First Book of Harpsichord Pieces"), 1706; other books in 1724, 1728

Music Theorist

Traité de l'harmonie reduite à ses principes naturels ("Treatise on Harmony Reduced to its Natural Principles"), 1722, was the first theoretical explanation of the system of major/minor tonality

Nouveau système de musique théorique ("New System of Music Theory"), 1726

Opera composer

Composed about 30 stage works

Followed Lully's general plan--used long divertissements in each act

Wrote recitatives more melodic than Lully's, and arias in AB, ABA, ABACA forms

Involved in the Querelle des bouffons ("War of the Buffoons") between Ramistes and Lullistes

Chamber music

53 harpsichord pieces

Pièces de clavecin en concerts ("Pieces of Chamber Music with Harpsichord," 1741)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


Oratorios & Passions
Special Late Works


Masses & Magnificats
Orchestra Music


Chamber Music

Cantatas & Motets

Keyboard Music

Employment History
Weimar 1703--violinist (age 18)

Arnstadt 1703-1707--organist--trip to hear Buxtehude (age 18-22)

Mülhausen 1707-1708--organist (age 22-23)

Weimar again 1708-1717--court organist, concertmaster--friend of Telemann (age 23-32)

Cöthen 1717-1724--Kapellmeister (age 32-39)

All secular music, keyboard & instrumental

Leipzig 1723-1750--Kantor at theThomasschule & city Music Director

Organ music--Chorale preludes etc.

Cantatas for every Sunday & special feasts--2 cycles & part of a 3rd finished

Passion music for Good Fridays; Magnificats for Vespers

Influences on his life:

1. Knowledge of Renaissance & Baroque counterpoint

2. Awareness of all contemporary styles and forms and ability to adapt them

3. Thorough understanding of voices and instruments

4. Family pride in craftsmanship and perseverance, plus his own talent, and personal genius

5. The existing patronage system and its requirements

6. Strong religious conviction that his primary purpose was to glorify God

Use of symbolism

Numerology: the number alphabet, and representation of numbers by bars of music

Figurenlehre (musical figures denoting moods, emotions, affections)

Chiastic (balanced) construction of multimovement works

Symbolic use of specific instruments to denote heaven, etc., and use of Text painting

Vocal Music

All are multi-movement; most alternate choir with solos, duets, etc.

Use operatic elements: recitative, aria, arioso, duet, concertists and ripienists, chorus, orchestra

Filled with imitative counterpoint, canon, fugue, fugal counterpoint

Motets: Only 6 known, all written for funerals or other special occasions

Oratorios & Passions

Bach's oratorios (Christmas, Easter, Ascension) were elaborated cantatas

Possibly 5 Passions; only St. John and St. Matthew survive complete

Masses & Magnificats

1 Magnificat, but written twice (once with trumpets, which required transposing the original key)

4 Missae breves (the Latin Lutheran Mass)

The B Minor Mass composed as separate movements over a 20-year period and compiled during the last years of his life; it was never performed in his lifetime


About 375 settings of Lutheran Chorales, all taken from larger works, all arrangements of pre-existing music, collected by his sons after his death

Instrumental Music

Keyboard music
Clavier-Übungen (keyboard exercises)-- 4 published sets
Vol. I: 6 Partitas (suites) for harpsichord (1731)

Vol. II: Italian Concerto & French Overture (suite) for harpsichord (1735)

Vol. III: Prelude, 21 chorale arrangements, 4 duets, 1 fugue for organ (1739)

Vol IV: Aria & 30 Variations (the "Goldberg Variations") for harpsichord (1742)

Teaching music

Clavier-Büchlein ("Little Keyboard Book," 1720, ms.) with the 15 2-part & 15 3-part Inventions

Das wohltemperirte Clavier ("The Well Tuned Keyboard," Book I, 1722), Prelude & Fugue in every major & minor key

Clavier-Büchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach ("Little Keyboard Book" for his 2nd wife, 1725, ms.)

Das wohltemperirte Clavier (Book II, before 1742, compiled but not published)

Orgel-Büchlein ("Little Organ Book," incomplete ms.), 46 chorale preludes of a projected 164

Additional keyboard music

12 additional suites for harpsichord
English Suites (c. 1715, ms.)

French Suites (after 1725, ms.), 6 suites

Misc. Fantasias & Fugues, Toccatas & Fugues, other organ music

Special late works
Musikalisches Opfer (the "Musical Offering," 1747): on a theme given to him by King Frederich the Great, on which he improvised for the King, later engraving the pieces and presenting them to the King

Die Kunst der Fuge (the "Art of Fugue," 1740s): examples from simple to very complex of every kind of fugal device and variation


Orchestral music

All written for the ensemble at Cöthen or for the Colegium musicum at Leipzig

The 6 "Brandenburg Concertos" represent other, presumably lost concertos

Perhaps written at Cöthen

In concerto grosso form

A different concertino group in each concerto

The 4 Ouvertures (orchestral suites)

The Concertos for one to four harpsichords, violin, 2 violins (concerti grossi)


Chamber music (always written for specific players)

Sonatas with harpsichord
6 for violin, 6 for flute, 3 for viola da gamba

Unaccompanied sonatas & suites

1 for flute, 7 for lute, 6 for violin, 6 for cello


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Employment History

1702 organist at Halle (age 17)

1703 violinist (later harpsichordist) with the Hamburg Opera (age 18)

1706-1710 (age 21-25) lived in Italy & learned Italian style from the best composers, Corelli in Rome and Scarlatti in Naples

1710 appointed Kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover (age 27)

1712 visited London and remained there for the rest of his life (age 29)

Wrote operas and commissioned works (including anthems for the Duke of Chandos)

Became Music Director of the Royal Academy of Music (opera organization)

Appointed composer to the Chapel Royal (1721)

Invented English Oratorio when operas were banned during Lent

Including Esther 1732; Messiah 1741; Jephtha 1759

Vocal Music

Wrote almost 40, 1705-1741

Historical, mythological, or romantic stories

All in the Italian style and in Italian

Arias very simple on paper; Italian soloists would have improvised a lot


Started writing them when the Bishop of London forbade theatrical productions during Lent, reducing Handel's cash flow

In English, intended for the concert hall, not the church

Appealed to the English middle class, who were getting a little tired of Italian opera

Used less expensive and less demanding English singers, and did not expect them to improvise

Superb composer for chorus


In the Italian style, mostly for solo voice--nothing at all like Bach's elaborate Lutheran cantatas

Orchestral music

Water Music (3 suites)

Royal Fireworks Music (for winds & timpani)

Six Concerti Grossi, Op. 3, and Twelve Grand Concertos, Op. 6 (for strings)

20 Concertos for organ with orchestra & bc


Chamber music

4 sets of 12 sonatas for 1 or 2 melody instruments and bc


Keyboard music

16 harpsichord suites & other works

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