1-20 of 51 results  for:

  • Critic or Journalist x
  • Late 18th c./Classical (1750-1800) x
Clear all

Article

Robert Stevenson

[Andres, Giovanni]

(b Planes, Alicante, Feb 15, 1740; d Rome, Jan 12, 1817). Spanish literary historian and music critic. He was professed in the Society of Jesus on 24 December 1754 and studied at Tarragona, Manresa, Gerona and Valencia from 1754 until 1763, when he was ordained a priest. Four years later, while teaching rhetoric and poetry at the University of Gandía, he was exiled with the rest of the Spanish Jesuits. He went first to Corsica, then to Italy, where he taught philosophy at Ferrara until 1773. After Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits in 1773 Andrés devoted himself to letters and bibliography, living three years with the Bianchi at Mantua, and then travelling throughout Italy and in 1794 to Vienna. During his travels he maintained a correspondence with his brother Carlos, which was published from 1786 to 1794. The work contains much valuable material on music, particularly the third volume, which deals with Venetian conservatories, singers, opera and Greek-rite chant in ...

Article

Curtis Price

(fl 1770–93). Italian librettist and journalist. He was in London by 1769, when he wrote the libretto for Pugnani’s comic opera Nanetta e Lubino. Probably supplementing his income by translating and teaching Italian, Badini wrote a few librettos for the King’s Theatre during the 1770s, including Le pazzie di Orlando (set by P.A. Guglielmi in 1771), a witty, ambitious work which Nunziato Porta adapted for Haydn as Orlando paladino (1782, Eszterháza). Badini’s other works from this period include Il disertore (1770), set by Guglielmi and revived in Lisbon in 1772, and L’ali d’amore (1776), which was set by Venanzio Rauzzini.

An early sign of Badini’s individuality is found in the libretto for Bertoni’s La governante, a free translation of the English dialogue opera The Duenna by R.B. Sheridan. While Badini retained many of Sheridan’s lyrics, he reworked the drama into a typical three-act burletta whose arias, unlike Sheridan’s, advance the plot. Another example of Badini’s interest in English drama is ...

Article

Iain Fenlon

(Marc’Antonio)

(b Turin, April 25, 1719; d Marylebone, London, May 5, 1789). Italian man of letters. His Fetonte sulle rive del Po was set by G.A. Giai (1750, Turin). In January 1751 he left Italy, where he had a considerable literary reputation, for an appointment at the Italian Opera in London. Shortly after his arrival he wrote two facetious pamphlets relating to a dispute between the actors and the lessee of the Opera. He adapted selected odes of Horace as a sort of Masonic oratorio. Seeking a composer able to avoid the vocal clichés and long ritornellos of Italian opera and ‘to temper alternately the solemnity of church music with the brilliancy of the theatrical’, Baretti chose Philidor, with whom he discussed ‘every syllable … with respect to the best way of expressing musically the meaning of Horace’. Carmen saeculare was performed in London in 1779 and in Paris the year after. Baretti wrote in his copy of Johnson’s ...

Article

Jamie C. Kassler

(b London, 1727; d London, March 14, 1800). English lawyer and writer on music. The fourth son of John Shute, 1st Viscount Barrington, he was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple and held public offices between 1751 and 1785. His eldest sister, Sarah, married the amateur musician and music theorist Robert Price. Barrington’s writings on music are remarkable for their observations on two relatively new topics: child music prodigies and animal communication. The former contains valuable firsthand accounts of five ‘infant’ musicians (Mozart, Charles and Samuel Wesley, William Crotch and Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington), and the latter includes an article on birdsong that was cited by Charles Darwin some hundred years later.

‘Account of a Very Remarkable Musician [W.A. Mozart]. In a Letter from the Honourable Daines Barrington, F.R.S. to Mathew Maty, M.D. Sec. R.S.’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 60 (1770), 54–64...

Article

Rudolph Angermüller

revised by Philip E.J. Robinson

[Caron de]

(b Paris, Jan 24, 1732; d Paris, May 18, 1799). French writer. The son of a clockmaker, he defended his invention of a watch escapement mechanism against theft by the royal clockmaker Lepaute, whom he replaced at court in 1755. He subsequently became harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV and, thanks to contact with the homme d’affaires Pâris-Duverney, was ultimately able to buy himself into the nobility. In his Essai sur le genre dramatique sérieux (1767), the preface to his Eugénie, he took up the ideas of Diderot in favour of a distinct genre of drame, different from both French classical tragedy and comedy. His works in this genre outnumber his Figaro comedies, and even these show its influence: he returned to it fully in the third Figaro play, La mère coupable (1792). His racy parades, playlets written for the high-society private stage, served as an apprenticeship in comic musical theatre, particularly in the use of vaudevilles (well-known tunes sung, as part of the dramatic text, to new words). ...

Article

Linda Troost

(John)

(b ?Dublin, Sept 26, 1733; d ?1808). English playwright of Irish birth. He served in the army before moving to London and drew on his military experience in his libretto for the patriotic afterpiece Thomas and Sally (1760). His successful Covent Garden piece Love in a Village (1762) started a new fashion in opera, as The Beggar’s Opera had done decades earlier. He combined a witty, romantic plot in spoken dialogue with sophisticated music drawn from continental comic opera. The pasticcio score is derived mostly from Italian opera, from oratorio, and from the songs of Thomas Arne, but uses little traditional English music, which Bickerstaff despised. As in ballad opera, the songs help to advance the action, but they also demand well-trained singers and full orchestral accompaniment.

Bickerstaff’s innovation spread quickly in the London theatre. He continued to vary the form: The Maid of the Mill...

Article

Mary Cyr

(b Tournon, Sept 10, 1724; d Paris, 1778). French writer. He was the author of a treatise on singing entitled L'art ou les principes philosophiques du chant (Paris, 1756). He was not a musician; he referred to himself as ‘un homme de lettres amateur’. His work is largely concerned with physical aspects of singing, such as sound production and breathing, based upon the earlier work of a physician and anatomist, Antoine Ferrein (De la formation de la voix de l'homme, Paris, 1741). In a lengthy preface he accused the author of L’art du chant (Paris, 1755), Jean-Antoine Bérard, of incorporating his material, and listed corrections to Bérard's work. The two treatises include many passages which are nearly identical (particularly the first and third chapters, ‘La voix considérée par rapport au chant’ and ‘La formation de la voix’), but La Borde discounted the accusation, criticizing Blanchet's work for its ‘balourdises’....

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], Nov 15, 1735; d Berlin, Nov 10, 1799). German playwright. He fled his family business at the age of 18 and eventually joined an itinerant theatrical company. He was an indifferent actor but won considerable popularity as a playwright. In May 1772 he and his actress wife Charlotte, then both with the Seyler company in Weimar, saw the first German melodrama, Anton Schweitzer’s setting (now lost) of Rousseau’s Pygmalion, in translation. Using H. W. von Gerstenberg’s tragic cantata Ariadne auf Naxos as a model, Brandes prepared a dramatic scene in the new genre to display Charlotte’s abilities. Schweitzer temporized in setting Brandes’s text, and after the troupe moved to Gotha it was given to the court Kapellmeister there, Georg Benda. The première of Ariadne auf Naxos on 27 January 1775 was a resounding success, mainly because of Benda’s music and Charlotte’s acting. Brandes wrote a second melodrama for his wife while he was theatrical director at Dresden in ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Feb 4, 1723; d London, Aug 4, 1792). English dramatist . ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne, the English general forced to surrender to the Americans at Saratoga (1777), was the librettist of William Jackson’s only successful opera, The Lord of the Manor (1780), in the preface to which he advocated English ‘musical comedy’. Garrick’s staging of his first dramatic piece, ...

Article

Richard Taruskin

[née Sophie Auguste Fredericke von Anhalt-Zerbst]

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], 21 April/May 2, 1729; d Tsarskoye Selo, 6/Nov 17, 1796). Empress of Russia. She acceded in 1762 following a palace coup against her husband Peter III, and became known as ‘Catherine the Great’. Continuing the policy of her predecessors, the empresses Anna (reigned 1730–40) and Elizabeth (1741–61), she maintained a court opera theatre staffed by Italians, personally patronizing Cimarosa, Paisiello, Galuppi and Sarti, as well as her special favourite, the italianized Spaniard Martín y Soler. She also patronized comic opera in the vernacular and encouraged native talent to apply itself to this genre. Among the talents she nurtured was her own very modest one as a dramatist, which she exercised, as she put it to a friend, for the sake of relaxation and distraction from affairs of state. With the assistance of two literary secretaries, Ivan Yelagin and Alexander Khrapovitsky, she wrote three volumes of Russian plays and a fourth in French....

Article

(b Paris, May 5, 1734; d Paris, Oct 24, 1788). French writer on music. A soldier and administrator by profession, he consorted with artists and philosophers (he was one of the celebrated circle of Mlle de Lespinasse) and was elected to the Académie Française in 1775. In 1765 he published anonymously his Essai sur l’union de la poésie et de la musique, a vigorous polemic in favour of Metastasian opera seria with its taut, concise dialogue and rounded, periodic aria texts set to music in the international, ‘Neapolitan’ style of Hasse. However, his aim was not the wholesale importation of opera seria performed in the original Italian, but the reform of serious opera in French. He approved in principle the integration of the chorus in the French manner but was much more concerned to advocate periodic phrasing for aria music than to discuss dramaturgy. He wished to see a bel canto style properly set in relief by the restriction of the orchestral accompaniment to simple patterns with largely homogenous instrumentation. The place for contrast and volatility was in the accompanied recitatives....

Article

Jamie C. Kassler

(b Norwich, 1722/3; d Onehouse, Suffolk, April 8, 1797). English divine and writer. He was educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and held appointments as rector in East Anglia. About 1766–7 Davy studied music theory with a ‘Mr S.’, whom he hoped would set the texts Davy had written in 1769 for two oratorios, Balaam and Ruth. It is possible that ‘Mr S.’ was Christopher Smear, with whom Davy wrote An Essay upon the Principles and Powers of Vocal and Instrumental Music ( GB-Lbl ). Proposals to print were issued in 1768 and the Essay was completed in 1772, when Davy requested permission to dedicate it to Charles Burney (the request was declined); but the work never appeared. To gain ‘a just idea of the Grecian music’, Davy had compared the compass of the voice in song with the compass of the voice in speaking; this was published in his ...

Article

Daniel Heartz

revised by Elisabeth Cook

(b Langres, Oct 5, 1713; d Paris, July 31, 1784). French philosopher, critic and writer. He is best known as principal editor of the Encyclopédie but was also an influential writer on music. Born into a bourgeois family and educated by Jesuits, he was a writer of immense knowledge, energy and determination, who was imprisoned briefly (in 1749) for his philosophical views yet showed a spirit of tolerance that set him apart from most of his friends and colleagues. As chief architect of the Encyclopédie, a task that occupied him for some 20 years, he had a strong impact on the musical thought of his own and subsequent times. Musical discussion is strewn throughout his voluminous writings on all subjects and in his fiction: scientific works on acoustics, sound production and sensory perception are complemented by aesthetic writings, by critical essays on drama, art and music, and by diverse literary texts (plays, novels, dialogues), pedagogical tracts and a rich correspondence....

Article

Howard Serwer

(b Garmissen, nr Hildesheim, Nov 20, 1741; d Hamburg, June 30, 1817). German writer on music and translator. He studied theology at Göttingen and, although he was deaf, became a teacher at the Hamburg Handlungsakademie in 1769 and professor of history and Greek at the Gymnasium in 1784. With C.P.E. Bach he organized a concert in 1772 in honour of a visit by Burney, whose The Present State of Music in France and Italy he translated, with J.J.C. Bode, in the same year. He was a close friend of Klopstock, with whom he translated Jennens’s text for Handel’s Messiah in about 1782, and whose poems he edited. In 1793 he began an encyclopedic and statistical description of the USA which had reached seven volumes at his death. For the last 18 years of his life he was librarian of the Hamburg Staatsbibliothek.

As was typical in the German Enlightenment, Ebeling was strongly influenced by French thought, and he published translations of French writings on music and poetry in Hamburg and Hanover periodicals. His commentaries to these works and his other articles on music, though not always critical, reflect the breadth of his interests and activities. His most important contribution to music is the ‘Versuch einer auserlesenen musikalischen Bibliothek’ (...

Article

(b Neuchâtel, 23orNov 24, 1733; d Paris, July 15, 1815). Swiss writer on music. A journey to Italy in the early 1750s was formative in shaping his taste for Italian opera. He then moved to Paris, where he frequented literary-philosophical circles, and in 1763–5 followed Rousseau to Switzerland. Escherny’s Fragments sur la musique (Paris, 1809), which also appeared as part of a larger work, the Mélanges de littérature (Paris, 1811), contains miscellaneous criticism; much of the writing is anecdotal (albeit vivid and picturesque), but his musical acumen cannot be doubted. Like Chastellux he favoured the principles of bel canto singing; he thought that music for the theatre should set this in proper relief.

Escherny allows Gluck a prodigious gift for powerful and awe-inspiring effects of orchestration and harmony in ‘le genre sombre et terrible’, but denies him that of melody. He claimed to have met Gluck in Vienna as early as ...

Article

Michael Kassler

(b Woburn, Beds., Sept 24, 1766; d London, Jan 6, 1826). English geologist and writer on music. He was a tenor in the Surrey Chapel Society which met weekly in Southwark to practise sacred music. In 1791, when that society became part of the Choral Fund, Farey served as secretary and librarian and became acquainted ‘with numbers of the most eminent’ practitioners of music. The next year he returned to Woburn as the Duke of Bedford’s land steward and warden of Woburn parish church; from 1802 he lived in London.

Farey found the study of systems of musical temperament ‘a favourite source of amusement, while relaxing from … professional studies and practice’. His thoughts on music appeared mainly in numerous articles in the Philosophical Magazine and reappeared in contributions to David Brewster’s Edinburgh Encyclopaedia and to Abraham Rees’s Cyclopaedia: indeed Rees named only Charles Burney and Farey as ‘co-adjutors’ of the musical articles in the ...

Article

(b Casdemiro, Orense, Oct 8, 1676; d Oviedo, Sept 26, 1764). Spanish essayist. A Benedictine monk, he settled in Oviedo in 1709, teaching theology at the university and later serving as abbot in the monastery of his order. His major works are two series of essays on a wide variety of subjects: Theatro critico universal (nine books, 1726–40) and Cartas eruditas (five books, 1742–60). In his effort to combat scholasticism, authoritarianism and superstition, and his insistence on reason and verification, he was the leading Spanish representative of the Enlightenment. He was sensitive and knowledgeable about music, though a traditionalist, following the ancients in viewing music as symbolic of the harmony of the universe and capable of powerful moral influence. In his celebrated ‘Música de los templos’ (Theatro, i, no.14) he deplored current Italian fashions in church music, viewing chromaticism, fast tempos, dance and opera styles and use of violins as inimical to the majestic repose ideal for worship. He blamed Durón for first introducing the style, but singled out Literes as a praiseworthy contemporary composer. This work, like many of this others, provoked a fierce polemic. Other musical essays include ‘Maravillas de la música’ (...

Article

Philip Weller

(b Neuchâtel; fl 1770s). Swiss writer on music. Like Escherny he moved to Paris, where he frequented the literary and intellectual circles of the Encyclopedists and philosophes. In 1772 he published his long Traité du mélodrame; its immediate occasion was the rebuttal of views expressed in François-Jean Marquis de Chastellux’s Essai. The Traité is a sustained apology for the more complex orchestral style of Bohemian instrumental composers as the musical basis for an effective dramaturgy. He appreciated the obvious plastic beauty of Hasse in individual arias (for instance ‘Non ha ragione, ingrato’ in Didone abbandonata) and admired the inventiveness of motifs in Italian opera, but thought that the hedonistic regularity of a pure singing-based style allowed insufficient contrast to sustain interest and maintain dramatic power. He regarded Philidor’s orchestral invention and vivid instrumentation as a model of its kind, and the Traité is in this sense a eulogy of Philidor: Garcin made specific bar-by-bar observations on his style with a precision that inspires confidence in his judgment. The standard of criticism is remarkable, considering the early date; and throughout Garcin shows general musical literacy and a keen dramatic imagination....

Article

(b Tondern, Jan 3, 1727; d Altona, Nov 1, 1823). German poet, critic and musician. From 1757 he studied law at Jena, where inspired by such literary associates as Claudius, Münter and J.L. Schlosser he began his own poetic creations. In 1759, after the considerable success of his dramatic poem Tändeleyen (part of which was later set as a cantata by C.P.E. Bach), he abandoned law in favour of Danish military service, participating in the Russian campaign of 1762 and eventually settling in Copenhagen for about 12 years. There he became the close friend of Klopstock, studied music with J.A. Scheibe, and instituted a series of musical evenings at his home, attended equally by poets and musicians, in which he himself sometimes performed and sang. This custom was continued after he moved to Lübeck as ‘Danish Resident’ in 1775. Financial considerations forced him to sell this position in ...

Article

Edward Olleson

(b Stuttgart, Jan 8, 1769; d Vienna, April 9, 1845). German diplomat and writer. He was Haydn’s biographer and confidant. He went to Vienna in 1799 as tutor to the son of the Saxon ambassador and spent most of the rest of his life there, rising to become Saxon chargé-d’affaires to the imperial court in 1831. Through his acquaintance with G.C. Härtel, he was asked shortly after his arrival in Vienna to negotiate with Haydn on behalf of the Leipzig publishers Breitkopf & Härtel. The association was a fruitful one for both Haydn and the publishers, and what started as a business arrangement developed into a genuine friendship that lasted until Haydn’s death. Griesinger’s letters to Härtel contain valuable information on Haydn’s last years, and his conversations with the composer eventually provided him with the material for a popular biography. His Biographische Notizen über Joseph Haydn first appeared serialized (in ...