Music in Context 1600-1850

This seminar will explore the primary venues for the performance of Western art music before public concerts became common. These settings, which included royal courts, churches, and private salons throughout Europe, played important roles in the music’s composition and performance and influenced the development of various music genres.

We will start with the incredible culture of the Parisian salon in the 1650s-1670s and examine how private vocal and instrumental music performed there laid the groundwork for the opera and ballet that were the mainstay at the French Court under Louis XIV.  Along the way, we will listen to cantatas by Luigi Rossi, keyboard suites by Louis Couperin, and ballet and opera scores by Lully.

We will also examine the music at the Berlin Court under Frederick the Great in the 1750s-1770s and explore its connection to the compelling salon life cultivated by the Jewish women Sara Levy and her sister Fanny von Arnstein. Featured composers will include C.P.E. Bach, J.G. Graun and others who wrote music that was played both at court and in the salon.

We will discover the sacred music emanating from St Mark's in Venice and discuss its impact on sacred music in Germany and France. We will also look at the connection between the Italian cantata cultivated in the salon, and the cantata genre that composers like Bach and Telemann wrote for the German churches in the 18th century.  Lastly, we will explore some of the earliest public concerts and the development of the ritual and etiquette associated with modern concert performance.

Note: This 6-session course will be online, but we will have one class session featuring a live in-person musical performance reenacting a 17th century salon.


Course Recordings:

Class 1 - October 6, 2023

Class 2 - October 13, 2023

Class 3 - October 20, 2023

Class 4 - October 27, 2023

Class 5 - November 10, 2023

Venue: online
Meets on: Fridays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 10/6/2023
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 25
Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion
Weekly Preparation: 1 - 2 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Andrus Madsen is the minister of music at Second Church in Newton and the founding director of Newton Baroque. He earned a doctorate in Harpsichord Performance, as well as a Masters degree in Music History at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He is an active performer on all sorts of historical keyboard instruments and eagerly explores western classical music that lies outside of the canon.