Music History

Moreover, my ideal music history would insist on providing an illustration for every assertion–no empty generalizations, please–and would draw all the musical examples for each composer from a single work, so that the repertoire for the history would be limited to twenty-four works, preferably music easily available on iTunes or YouTube. And for medieval music, generally based on plainsong, let the selections, so far as possible, be based on the same piece of plainsong.

Medieval

  • Plainsong, Kyrie Cunctipotens
  • Tuotilo of St. Gall, Kyrie Cunctipotens trope (ca. 900)
  • Cunctipotens genitor (St. Martial School, ca. 1125)
  • Anonymous, En non Diu-Quant voi-Eius in Oriente (13th century)
  • Machaut, Missa Nostre Dame (Kyrie, ca.1364)

Renaissance

  • Dufay, Ave regina coelorum (ca. 1464)
  • Josquin des Pres, Missa Pange Lingua (Agnus Dei; ca.1515)
  • Victoria, Missa O Magnum Mysterium (motet; Kyrie; 2nd half, 16th century)
  • Weelkes, As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending (1601)

Baroque

  • Purcell, Dido and Aeneas (1689), “Dido’s Lament”
  • Buxtehude, Ein feste Burg (2nd half, 17th century)
  • Vivaldi, Concerto Grosso in A Minor, Op.3, No. 8 (1st movement, 1712)
  • Bach, Cantata 140, Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme (1731) (1st movement)

Classic [46:00]

  • Haydn, String Quartet in C Major, Op. 73, No. 3 (1797) (1st movement)
  • Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro (1786) (Act II Finale)
  • Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 (1st movement, 1803)

Romantic [30:00]

  • Schubert, Erlkönig (1815)
  • Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique (Dream of a Witches Sabbath, 1830)
  • Wagner, Prelude to Tristan und Isolde (1865)
  • Verdi, Otello (Act I, Drinking Song, 1887)

Modern [23:30]

  • Debussy, La Mer (Jeux de Vagues, 1905)
  • Schoenberg, Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16 (Colors, 1909)
  • Stravinsky, Le Sacre du Printemps (First 4 movements, 1913)
  • Reich, Music for 18 Musicians (I. Pulses, 1976)

Finally, my ideal music history would describe the style of an individual composer or historical period in musical terms. At this point I run into an obstacle. The general public has embraced the vocabulary of art criticism and literary criticism so that one can analyze a painting or a poem without losing the reader. Music criticism enjoys no such common vocabulary, so that university students are often required to take courses in music theory before being permitted to take a music history course.