The art of music, Vol. 03 (of 14), A narrative history of music
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“The Art of Music” is a fourteen-volume work by British musicologist William Mason, originally published in 1901. This comprehensive series covers the history of music from ancient times to the turn of the 20th century. Volume three of the series focuses on the Modern period, from the 18th century to the end of the 19th century.
The Modern period was a time of great innovation and change in the world of music. The development of new musical forms and styles, such as the symphony, the concerto, and the sonata, transformed the way that music was composed and performed. The rise of the piano as a popular instrument led to the creation of new genres such as the piano sonata and the piano concerto. The Romantic movement, with its emphasis on individual expression and emotion, brought a new sensibility to music, leading to works of great beauty and power.
Mason’s approach to writing about music is both informative and accessible. He provides a detailed account of the major composers and works of the period, including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, and Brahms, as well as many lesser-known figures. He also explores the cultural and social context in which music was created and performed, from the rise of the concert hall to the role of music in the French Revolution.
One of the strengths of Mason’s work is his ability to convey the essence of each musical work in language that is both clear and evocative. He describes the emotional impact of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, for example, as “an experience which seems to raise us above the limitations of our mortal nature, and to give us a glimpse of the eternal and the divine.” His discussion of Chopin’s music captures the delicate beauty and poetic sensibility of the composer’s works.
Mason also provides insightful commentary on the technical aspects of music, such as harmony, melody, and form, and how they were used by composers to create their works. He explains the role of counterpoint in the music of Bach, the use of chromaticism in the works of Wagner, and the influence of folk music on the compositions of Dvořák.
Overall, “The Art of Music” is an important contribution to the field of musicology, and Volume three provides a valuable overview of the Modern period. Mason’s clear and engaging writing style makes this volume accessible to both scholars and general readers alike, and his comprehensive coverage of the period makes it an essential reference work for anyone interested in the history of music.