Music 502: Baroque Music
The topic will be a single work, to be chosen by the student with the
advice and consent of the instructor, from the period 1600 to 1750 generally
regarded as "baroque." You are encouraged to write about a work that you
are preparing for performance, or are otherwise intimately familiar with.
It should also be a work for which basic information is available. Your
task is to establish for this work as wide and varied a context as possible.
The following questions may serve as a guide:
- What basic facts are known about the composer? Dates, nationality,
important relationships and influences, stylistic identification.
- What is known about the individual work? Date of composition,
publication, first performance, critical reception, later performances,
sketches, revisions or arrangements by the composer.
- How does this individual work fit into the composer's oeuvre? Is it
typical of the composer's style or medium? If the piece is an excerpt from
a larger work (for example, a masque or incidental music), how does it fit
musically and dramatically into the whole? To what works (by this composer
and others) would it have been compared or linked? Does it represent any
departures from previous works? Under what circumstances, and for what
purpose, was it written (to showcase a favorite performer, a performance by
the composer, commission, competition, etc.)?
- What are the important melodic, harmonic and structural events in
the piece? What can you discern about the composer's use of specific
musical choices to refer to or provoke specific affects? What expectations
would the earliest audiences have had concerning the piece? How would
this piece have met those expectations?
- What place does the work occupy in today's repertory? Has it become
a standard in its original form from its first performance, or has it been
recently rediscovered, or is it played in substantially altered form
(transposed, transcribed, reorchestrated, cadenzas added)?
- What does the work mean to you personally? What attracted you to
it? Have you been influenced by a particular performance or recording of
the work? Do you expect to perform it, study it, or teach it throughout
Length: 2000 words. Due Date: written work on 27 April,
but please be prepared to give a brief oral presentation on 27 or 29 April.